Forwarded from the compost tea discussion group (sub info at the 
bottom of the page) -Allan
>I asked Dr. Elaine to respond with regard to EM. Her remarks are on target.
>So far not one on this list has mentioned, say, protozoa. We can have all
>the bacteria we want. Without something to eat them, and on up the soil or
>foliar foodweb, there would be little reason for compost teas......
>Anyhow, here is the response:
>With respect to EM, when the group first came to the US, their cultures of
>bacteria weren't appropriate for the US.  They then cultured indigenous
>species, and the EM trials I have seen are very good for developing the
>FIRST STEP in getting the life  back into the soil.
>But, remember, the FOODWEB is more than just bacteria!!!!!
>Please, remember that.  You start with getting the bacteria back into the
>soil in the proper numbers for the plant you want to grow, because you have
>to build the microaggregates, begin to build nutrient retention, start to
>suppress the disease organisms.
>But that's JOB ONE.  You have many more jobs to go!
>Job TWO is to get the fungi back into the soil.  Fungi take the
>microaggregates built by the bacteria and turn them into macroaggregates
>that you can see with your eyes.  This is the foundation of your soil house.
>Earthworms do the same thing, by inoculating fungi and setting up the
>environment to help the fungi grow.  So, we get the foundations for good
>soil structure started.
>EM has no fungi.  Just bacteria and actinobacteria (used to be called
>actinomycetes, but they ARE NOT fungi).  There are No Fungi in EM.
>The actinobacteria are really hard on the beneficial fungi.  Very
>inhibitory.  There are some pretty clear negative effects of Streptomyces,
>the actinobacterium in EM, on VAM and ecto colonization.
>There are no foods to maintain fungi in the EM amendment.  And JOB THREE is
>to maintain the bacteria and fungi, by adding the correct foods.  EM doesn't
>have fungal foods.
>No protozoa, no beneficial nematodes, no mycorrhizal inoculum in EM.
>So, EM is a great first step.  But only the first step.
>But, being the, hum, how do I put this?  Ok, let's be blunt, cheap person
>that I am, I would rather buy a little bit of a bacterial inoculum and
>multiply it in the tea brewer.  Now, EM will not guarantee their product if
>you do that, because they don't know which species you increased, or did not
>increase.  Were the foods in your tea brewer the ones to grow the whole
>diversity of bacteria in the EM product.  Questionable.
>There are about 120 species of bacteria in EM.  How many species in compost?
>Minimum number, 5,000.  Maximum number, in a good compost?  25,000 to maybe
>30,000.  So, in terms of diversity, which do you want?  Hands down, compost.
>But in terms of convenience?  EM.
>Please realize that the EM product is most appropriate for the southwest.
>If I lived in Illinois, I'd get the Agri-Energy bacterial inoculum.  Much
>more appropriate for that part of the world.  And hands down the best, if
>you are growing corn or wheat in the eastern part of the Mid-west.  Please
>mention that I recommended their product, if you call them for info, OK?
>Sometimes when I'm not glowing about someone's product in all situations,
>all over the country, they get ticked at me.  I think that happened here.
>In the western part of the mid-west, I think (ok, look out, think is fairly
>different from I know, all right?  When I think something, it means maybe
>there isn't a whole lot of  data to back the statement up.  When something
>"is", then there's data to back up the statement).
>Sorry for the tangent.  Western part of the mid-West, Mid-West Biological
>Systems are the folks to talk to.
>Bruce Tainio has a great inoculum for the areas in the mountain west.  He's
>in Spokane.  New Era Farm Service has a great inoculum for the California
>Valleys.  There are some many others.  Helena Chemical Company has a GREAT
>inoculum -- a herd of beneficial bacteria, especially for those places where
>chemicals have been really hard on the soil.  They recognize that they only
>have some 15 to 18 species, but they are the species that quickly start to
>form soil structure and suppress diseases.
>So, which inoculum to choose?  The one most local.  They are more likely to
>have the beneficial bacterial species adapted for your climate.
>So, which is "better"?  This is rather nonsensical actually.  Which is
>better?  Just breakfast, or all three meals?
>Something like EM is like feeding yourself just breakfast.  You need lunch
>and dinner too.  Maybe the midnight snack.
>Compost tea is all the meals in one.  CT adds all those other beneficial
>organisms, not just the bacteria.
>With any bacterial inoculum, you then have to move on to find a fungal
>inoculum.  A protozoan inoculum.  A nematode inoculum.  A mycorrhizal
>You decide for yourself what you want to do.  Use the bacterial inoculum
>because it's convenient, while you learn how to do compost tea correctly?
>Sounds logical to me!
>Elaine Ingham
>President, Soil Foodweb Inc.
>Affiliate Faculty, Southern Cross University, NSW
>PLANT A ROW FOR THE HUNGRY: Through PAR, over 3 million pounds of food have
>been donated by home gardeners like you to feed the hungry. Ask me how you
>can join the effort.
>Compostteas mailing list

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