Compost Utilization - Compost Tea
WSU Cooperative Extension is glad to see growers try new techniques to encourage better, more disease free growth and would like to see more rigourous research to find out what are the benefits of compost tea!
To read about scientific research on disease suppression and compost tea, here is a link to some Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) publications: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/comptea.html
The Compost Connection, a WSU newsletter, explores other trials being conducted with compost tea. http://csanr.wsu.edu/compost/newsletter/Cc8.PDF.
In Whatcom County, a Local Nursery Tries "Compost Tea" with interesting results
Cascade Cuts recently bought a machine to make compost tea to use in their greenhouse operation. Although they were not doing scientifically controlled field studies, Alison Kutz-Troutman has found some very interesting results in plants where they used compost tea on some, and did not on others. The tea is made in a highly oxygenated vat, designed to stimulate the proliferation of aerobic microorganisms. The compost they use for their tea comes from Pacific Garden Company. They are worm castings made from worms fed local dairy manure. (From a local dairy farm.)
Crop- Cyclamen - Alison shares: "we have seen a clear suppression of fusarium (crown rot) in the crop. The control group was treated with 2 conventional applications of fungicide, and there was some incidence of fusarium. We found no fusarium in the tea group (which was not treated with fungicide.)"
Crop- Pansys- Alison found them "noticably free and clear of any sign of Downy Mildew, a recent arrival in the Pacific Northwest in the last few years." Downy Mildew is especially dangerous in this crop. "We have not treated for it - nor have we seen any yet this spring. The group treated with Tea show dark green foliage color- much darker than the control, as well as large leaf size and great lateral breaks in comparison to the non-treated group."
Crop- French Lace Scented Geranium-The women pictured are Angel Entwistle and Autumn Duenow. Autumn is the current grower in the House- Angel is production manager. They have seen suppression of Botrytis (gray mold) throughout the crop. Angel Entwistle mentioned "This is the best crop of scented geraniums I've ever seen!"
Employees have also noticed a suppression if both botrytis and fusarium in seedlings of basil this spring. By now they usually see a damping off on the first sowing - a loss of upwards to 20% in the first 2 sowings. The employees think they look perfect!
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