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craig1267

Using manure tea for a hybrid dirt growing system

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Last year I constructed a hybrid growing system based off of Gary's blog posts on what he called the Ultimate growing system.  Essentially it is a wicking bed, willed with dirt, with a gravel bottom where water flows from one end to the the other under the surface.  The beauty of it is that it combines wicking beds with horizontal wetlands.  Everything flows back to a sump.

I want to use manure tea in this system.  I have quail and I have experimented with making manure tea directly from their droppings/litter mix.  Well, at first I didn't use any air, and well..you can guess what that smelled like. Now I have a dedicated air pump and 8 inch round air stone to my barrel and I'm going to see what it smells like.  Boy does that thing keep the liquid churning up.

Has anybody actually tried this before?  I'm trying to utilize only one input (quail feed and bedding) and convert that into fertlizer.  From what I can tell, the manure tea brewer should let the solution age, hopefully gassing off some of the ammonia.  Plus the horizontal wetland portion of the growing system should further act as a bio zone to continually process the tea into component parts. At least that's what I THINK it should do.  I can't find any kind of decent information on the Internet about manure tea.  Most research articles deal with surface application to farms.  And then there are the forum posts with reports of "OMG PATHOGENS" without any kind of data to back it up.

 

Craig

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I would do it a little different.

 

The idea of making tea is to steep the solids in the water. I used to use a jute wheatbag, I am thinking a double layer of heavy shadecloth would do the same. throw a bit of everything in the mix quail poo, straw compost green weeds aquaponics sludge. tie the end and hang it in the water (you may need a brick as well for ballast)

 

you can draw a bucket of tea off, add water, dunk the bag, scrape some sludge off the bottom and refresh the bag contents and it all keeps rolling along.

 

I think your air stone will probably block up, I would jam something in the end of the hose and drill some holes in it( rifle shell?) it should only need a little bit of air to stop it going anaerobic and producing sulfurous smells. i am going to start one up again this year, I'm thinking a smallish aerator and a timer will be all I need.

 

Dilution for a soil garden is 5 parts water to 1 tea for a weaker tea up to 10:1 for the stronger brew then 1-3 weeks standard watering, Keep in mind that dirt gardens with poor organic matter levels or unbroken down mulches dug in have the nutrients dissolved and leeched away by watering or used and tied up by the mulch, the reason for the tea in the first place. I am thinking a wicking bed would burn the roots with a tea this strong.

 

Anyone got a feeling about this? 50:1? 100:1? 500:1? A Hydroponic equivalent rate?

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Thanks for the info.  I have a feeling that the air stone might clog up.... I'm with you on the dilution, just wasn't sure how much.  I could also add in some aquaponic water to the sump, or even collect some rainwater.  It fills up on its own with rain water anyway after a mega storm, which we get here

 

FYI...I will be constantly moving water from the sump through the bottom of the wicking beds.  Well, not constantly, but on a timer for maybe 15 minutes on the hour or so. I'm hoping to ramp up a biofilter in the gravel level under the dirt which I hope will continue to break down any potent nitrogen source in the tea, or even aquaponic water, which will most likely have less N.

 

Check out this post for a little more information: http://www.microponics.net.au/plant-growing-systems/the-ultimate-growing-system-2/

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It should cycle nitrogen similar to a fish system, a handful of dirt, compost and filter sludge and let the bugs fight it out between themselves, once it starts working the urea will be nitrate in no time. Its kinda like yoghurt or sourdough bread, if you lose the microbes you will have to start again. I used a 205 litre drum and always kept it over a third full always with rainwater used (I didn't have chlorinated water to use anyway).

 

One thing I forgot to mention is that it is possible to get an alleopathic effect when using weeds and tree leaves in the mix. My grandfather would make a tea specifically to inhibit the germination of certain weed seeds by placing a mature plant (roots and all) of that genus in the bag, some plants are very territorial to their own seeds.

 

Now that I think about it, there is more to it than I realised. :)

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Hi,

 

Depending on how you load up your wicking bed, it may have its own initial nutrient base.  Remember that a wicking bed should have lots of fibrous organics in it (to aid the "wicking") and this breaks down over time releasing nutrients as it goes.  Mulching the wicking bed with more organic matter introduces new nutrients.

 

What you mulch the bed with will determine if it has what it needs in the way of in-built nutrients.  Additional to that, we're using water from our aquaponics system......and that has its own store of nutrients.

 

There's scope to use compost or worm tea.....or a bit of rock dust.....to boost the fertility of the mix in the bed but this should be pretty much the same as you'd do for a regular garden bed.......acknowledging that the nutrients in the wicking bed are captive where those in a soil garden can be washed away.  The proposed crop will also impact what nutrients you require in the bed.

 

I've found with wicking beds, you can get to heavy handed with fertilisers and get the reverse of what you're trying to achieve.

 

As for aerobic digestion, it's as simple as putting what you want to mineralise into a barrel and throwing an air line in with it.  Air in combination with water will degrade everything organic.......and almost everything else.  You can put the compost or manure (or fresh garden weeds) into a bag as Yahoo suggests.....or you can just chuck it in the barrel and stir it with the air.

 

You can make this liquid fertiliser in batches......or continuously by adding smaller lots of feedstock.....and drawing smaller lots out of the barrel.

 

I don't recommend turning the air off as anaerobic bacteria will get to work and you'll have a stinking mess on your hands in no time.  

 

If you want to separate the sludge from the liquor, just turn the air off for long enough to allow the sludge to settle.  The sludge is good stuff for the compost heap and the liquor is a potent fertiliser.

 

One of the main reasons I kept the flow through the Ultimate beds separate from the recirculating aquaculture path was so that I could add compost/worm (or anything else I wanted) to the system without impacting the fish.  This is one of the principal differences between the Ultimate beds and Earthan beds.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Gary

 

Yahoo.....you're on the money with the other effects of compost tea-making.  Biodynamic farmers go to all sorts of lengths to produce their fertilisers - it almost reads like a witch's brew.

Edited by GaryD (see edit history)

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Thanks, Gary.  I have more beets and carrots that are in an adjacent, regular raised bed.  

I have plumbed everything together over the weekend.  One bed has bell pepper starts in it.  I want to see what happens to them in a week or two with this aquaponic water and diluted manure tea mix.  We'll see if they start really going, or if they get burned with too much nutrient.  The other beds are going to get some okra in them, plus I'll be adding in 1 or 2 more beds shortly. I took some aquaponics water and filled up the sump tank some, then I took mixed some manure tea that has been brewing over the winter.  I didn't put much into the sump tank water, and I can tell it's in there just by smelling it.  This stuff is potent.  Probably not going to add any more.  I have a new submersible pump and a timer on order.  I looked into index valves, but submersible pumps are cheap enough even if turning it on and off breaks it a little prematurely.  I am going to circulate everything 2 or 3 times a day for about an hour each time, and probably leave it off at night. I think that will keep the beds with new water plus provide enough oxygen in the water to keep aerobic bacteria going.  After all, I need to make sure the bottom of these beds are active biofilters since I'm using water with organics in it.

I like aquaponics, but I want to try to experiment with different growing methods where I can incorporate my own fertilizers without harming the fish: dirt, compost, and various teas. Oh, and they all need to be wicking beds because I don't want nor have time to maintain consistent manual watering. I have an abundance of materials for fertilizers just from my normal everyday activity, and none of that can be used in aquaponics, but they can be used here :)

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Hi Craig,

 

I took some aquaponics water and filled up the sump tank some, then I took mixed some manure tea that has been brewing over the winter.  I didn't put much into the sump tank water, and I can tell it's in there just by smelling it.  This stuff is potent.  Probably not going to add any more.

 

If it smells bad, it probably still contains some undigested organics.  If that's the case, what you can smell is probably hydrogen sulphide - nasty stuff.

 

After all, I need to make sure the bottom of these beds are active biofilters since I'm using water with organics in it.

I'd suggest that you do whatever is necessary to ensure that the water that flows through your beds is thoroughly digested so that all you are left with is the nitrate-rich liquor……sans organics.

 

Depending on how your beds are put together, the water may pick up some organics from the growing mix.  Keep an air stone bubbling away in your sump - because that will assist to keep your nutrient water sweet.

 

I like aquaponics, but I want to try to experiment with different growing methods where I can incorporate my own fertilizers without harming the fish: dirt, compost, and various teas.

 

Aquaponics (hydroponic) growing systems like DWC, NFT and the likes are unbeatable when it comes to growing salad/Asian greens and soft herbs.  Wicking beds are the answer for the rest.

 

Oh, and they all need to be wicking beds because I don't want nor have time to maintain consistent manual watering. I have an abundance of materials for fertilizers just from my normal everyday activity, and none of that can be used in aquaponics, but they can be used here  :)

 

 

Managing nutrient cycles is what Microponics is all about.  That's why it trumps aquaponics on its own - it's only part of the game.   Microponics provides the answer to the question of what you do with the crop residues, fish guts, solid wastes, etc.  It's aquaponics…..plus much more.

 

Gary

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I'm resurrecting this thread because I am starting to actually use this liquid fertilizer I brewed up.  It's not going into the wicking beds, but rather a hydroponics system.  I'm thinking of expanding the system into two containers, one for permanent storage and another for the addition of new manure.  Both will have air going into them.  

Edited by craig1267 (see edit history)

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So far this has actually worked.  It does not compare to commercial hydroponic fertilizer in strength, but I was getting some growth out of the plants while using it.  Pretty cool, really.

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