Every micro organisms (and by microbes that means every micro organism both plant and animal) can fall into one of two categories, either beneficial or a Pathogen (helpful or harmful). In either case their life cycle is to feed and break down organic mater. Beneficial microbes wont harm plants, Pathogens cause disease and harm plants. But both beneficial microbes and Pathogen break down all organic mater to it’s raw elements. In the case of plants we try not to introduce pathogens to our plants so we only try and use beneficial microbes. However you will always have pathogens present, you cant avoid them.
Think of it like a war. The side with the most soldiers wins. By increasing the numbers of the beneficial microbes, you kill the enemy and keep them from taking over. There will always be survivors and more ready to take over, but as long as the beneficial microbes outnumber the pathogens they will never be able to gain a foothold and take over.
While beneficial microbes will feed on pathogens, when there isn’t enough pathogens for them to feed on so they can breed and multiply, they need an alternate food source to survive. Namely the organic mater. Compost is far richer in organic mater than most typical soils. That’s why they call it compost tea, not soil tea. Combine that with the fact that commercial synthetic fertilizers kill the microbes in the soil, over time that can even render the soils ecosystem baron of microbiology (or close to it). Depending on how heavily used the fertilizers were, the effects can last decades. It can take many years for enough of the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to leach out of the soil and start rebuilding the soils ecosystem of microbial life again.
[quote=“BioLumo, post:8, topic:703”]
To me the word organic also includes not using pesticides, though that is my personal view. Legally it is a different matter entirely and i believe pestices and herbicides can be used and something still be called “organic” so the term organic is a bit misleading and ambiguous at best. Though i dont think pesticides are really relevant for this discussion.
Your right, the term “organic” means different things to different people, But by law to get a “certified organic” certification, it requires using organic pesticides, or better yet beneficial insects to combat pests. It can take as long as three years for a grower to get a certification because the soil has to be tested for microbial life as well as traces of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer levels. so it can take years to get the soil in a condition to fall within certification levels.
However the terminology of each level of certification, and their the legal definition can be ambiguous like you said because it varies from state to state, and even county to county. I forget the actual wording used, but many states and areas even allow farms to sell their produce as organic while in the process of getting the organic certification, even though they haven’t gotten it yet. They just change the terminology of the certification slightly to make the legal distinction. However it’s very misleading and ambiguous to consumers that not only don’t understand the levels of certification, but don’t understand that it changes from area to area depending on where the produce was grown and came from.
While the legal definition of certified organic includes using both organic fertilizers as well as pesticides. I personally think of them separately for the very reason I mentioned earlier. That is plants cant absorb elements unless their in their raw chemical single molecule state. Since I grow everything hydroponically (withough’t soil) I don’t have to worry about maintaining the microbial ecosystem of the soil in my hydroponic systems. So there is no benefit to trying to use organic nutrients for hydroponically grown plants. But I do prefer to use beneficial insects or organic pesticides like neom oil to combat pests. I didn’t really mention pesticides since like you, I didn’t think it was really an issue or concern. But from a legal standpoint, both fertilizers and pesticides need to be addressed for certification.
As far as I know there is no such thing as free energy. That is being able to use and replace the amount of energy used without using more energy. In that scene nothing is sustainable. Plants consume nutrients as energy, the only way to recycle those nutrients is decomposition. Decomposition takes energy itself in the form of heat energy, microbial life, and acids. That’s what aquaponics is all about. Naturally decomposing organic mater and recycling those decomposed raw chemical elements for the plants to use. But again it’s a complicated posses to get the balance of the entire ecosystem just right.
Given the right conditions, compost is already a breading ground for microbial life, and decomposes quickly. Can you speed up the decomposition by making compost teas out of the compost and reintroducing it back into the compost? In theory yes, but how much will it really speed up the decomposition? Is it worth the effort? With enough trial and error under controlled conditions those questions may be able to be answered. .
Regardless again it’s about balance, and getting the balance right. Just because the compost has decomposed doesn’t mean the raw chemical elements are within balance for a specific plant. That’s like saying if you poured every liquid in your refrigerator into one pitcher it will make a good drink. What comes out of the compost is only as good as what goes into it. Not only do you need to control the amount of each specific material going into the compost, but you need to know the rate of decomposition of each as well to even get close to a balanced nutrient coming out of it. Essentially you would be trying to use compost tea as a complete nutrient solution, so you have to control the balance of nutrients in it. Now can you do trial and error and testing to determine those values to come up with workable recipes? In theory yes, I don’t see why not. Is it worth the effort and practicable? That’s yet to be determined, and I don’t know of anyone working on such a project. But even if so it won’t replenish itself, you’ll have to continue brewing more compost to replenish what the plants consume.
I believe many people are already doing that very thing. However as I keep mentioning, maintaining the balance of the ecosystem is important. You don’t want to just add things willy nilly to your fish ponds, doing so can kill your fish. That’s all part of what makes aquaponics complicated, maintaining a balanced ecosystem with the right amount of fish that provides all the nutrients the plants need in a balanced formula, while not harming the fish and other living plants or animals in the ecosystems either. Theoretically if you have a balanced ecosystem there isn’t a need to to add any new microbes to the ecosystem since they would be feeding and breeding in healthy numbers to begin with.
I have known one person who wanted to grow algae in hydroponic systems, but for use as medicine. That’s easily done, but again it’s all about balance in the ecosystem. Diversity is important for balance, but you have keep the balance under control or things can go very wrong. Like with everything in nature, everything is connected and affects everything else. Again, while the concept of aquaponics is simple, the practice of getting it right is far more complicated.
Compost is chocked full of fungal spores. Fungi is a major part of decomposition. you can’t avoid fungi. Fungal spores are all around you, even in the air you breath as well. But not all fungi is beneficial to plants. Soil manufactures often sanitize the final product to kill fungi before they sell it. You can inoculate compost with beneficial fungi, and many people do. I often use Trichoderma and Mycorrhizal fungi myself. Not just in soil, but I sometimes inoculate the growing medium with them before I use it, or add them to the nutrient reservoir. While these fungi are both good for killing pathogens and protecting the plants root systems from disease, they also attach themselves to the plants roots and help the plant absorb nutrients and aid root development. The use of beneficial fungi is already widely used. Some soil manufactures even add them to their potting soils and planting mixes.