On Fri, 31 Mar 2000 05:54:16 -0600, Douglas Hinds wrote:
>My reason for answering this is based my desire to clear up what I
>think was a general misunderstanding of Bart Hall's reference to foo
>foo dust etc. I understood him to mean that appropriate beneficial
>microbial organisms will come in, colonize and proliferate better on
>their own, if you feed them, and that this is more effective than
>seeding your whole field with them; that the context, the basic
>conditions that support building soil, the humus that's conducive to
>the proliferation of the appropriate microbial populations, is the
>more important factor. Beneficial microbials are foo foo dust when
>they're out of context, when sold as commercial soil amendments that
>are either unnecessary or not enough or both. The idea being that if
>you provide the context, your microbials will be there.
With very rare exceptions (former methyl bromide ground *might* be one
of them) it is the IDEA of applying microbes to the soil that makes
them foo-foo dust. As they would say in the software/networking
business, there's no "proof of concept." I would say that almost
universally if you have the right conditions for microbes, you already
have the microbes. If you don't have the right conditions, salting the
system with a few extra microbes just isn't effective.
For my nickel, the best way to make soil suitable for healthy microbes
is to a) stop harming it with stuff like anhydrous ammonia b) add 5
tons per acre of moderately composted bovine manure for each of three
years. Other ruminant type manures--- donkeys, water buffalo, horses,
etc--- would be just as good, but not hog, poultry or othr monogastric
manures. c) in year 2, start tucking in green manure crops d) in
years 4 & 5, grow a legume *sod* crop. e) continue thereafter with a
sound rotation. Follow this program, and I'll almost guarantee you'll
have an excellent microbial population, especially if you live in areas
where the compost can include substantial quantites of hardwood bark as
a raw material.
A substantial percentage of the time, foo-foo dust promotes heavily
that it contains free-living nitrogen fixers. What's wrong with
alfalfa, sweet clover, or even red clover? Well, a good question is
already half-answered. By emphasising free-living nitrogen fixers,
foo-foo dust peddlars make it abundantly clear that their target market
is grower who *don't* want to worry about compost or crop rotation. In
my experience as an organic inspector, an overwhelming percentage of
the growers using foo-foo dust are cash croppers trying to maintain
their old corn-beans-corn-beans "rotation" and still call themselves
"organic" or "sustainable."
When materials are used as a substitute for good management, instead of
as an adjunct *to* good management, I believe there is a problem. When
materials (such as foo-foo dust, greensand, granite dust, and (often)
humates) simply don't do what their promoters say, I believe there is a
problem. When those two situations overlap --- as in using foo-foo dust
instead of legumes in the rotation --- I *know* there's a problem.
>However, I see nothing wrong with inoculating compost or seed (or
>other propagative tissues), if the strain is effective for the
>location and the material to be composted or the crop. But any
>commercially available inoculant should clearly identify the strains
>contained in it. (That accounts for the difference between Kefir and
>yoghurt, for instance). Also, the cost should be commensurate with the
>results achieved, as well as the costs of production and distribution.
>In short, the efficacy of microbials used as inoculants are one thing,
>and broadcasting them directly in the field is another matter.
>HL> They were so charged up with life energies that they drew in more
>HL> life energy very strongly.
>That's a little hard to define. I sincerely think BD would do best to
>ground their claims in measurable units. Otherwise, we're just talking
>about preferences, and anyone can be emphatic. Defining the results as
>well as possible would be more likely to induce anyone interested to
>try it on his or her own.
>HL> He developed a compost starter from these cultures called
>HL> Petrik Laboratories has since done considerable work in Southeast
>HL> Asia and may be marketing such a compost starter somewhere in your
>HL> region. The last contact I had with Dr. Petrik was at 1506 Baylor
>HL> Drive, Woodland, California 95695. Phones: 916 666-5746, 916
>HL> 666-1157 or 916 666-6040. I hope this helps.
>If you can yahoo you can find Petrik Laboratories:
>It refers to "Petrik Dealerships around the world".
>The following on Sal's website also turned up:
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