Recently, we attended a soil workshop at The Rodale Institute near Kutztown, Pennsylvania. This Institute is a 333-acre working farm with research trials to promote sustainable farming techniques. The workshop agenda covered some of our favorite subjects including soil health, soil life and cover crops. The highlight of the event was the presentation by The Rodale Institute’s chief scientist, Dr. Elaine Ingham. At the core of her discussion was understanding of the soil food web and the soil microbes (beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes). The soil food web is the community of organisms that lives in the soil. Organic matter is the primary food source for the soil microbes. She covered the benefits of compost tea including its production and application. By applying compost tea, we can boost the number and diversity of the soil microbes in our soil’s food web to the benefit of the growing crops. To summarize, the workshop lesson was that a healthy soil is teeming with life and this soil food web creates good crop health and growth.
As a result of participating in the workshop, we are beginning a compost tea program on our farm . We have decided to learn how to brew an “aerated” tea compost for use as part of our soil nutrient plan.
A good farmer is nothing more nor less than a handy man with a sense of humus.~ Elwyn Brooks White