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Microbial life in Soil, Compost and Compost Teas

Anthony Saber
Posts: 45
Location: Noosa Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Hi There,
Can you show or tell me what constitutes a Good Soil, Compost, Compost tea sample under the microscope?

What's confusing is that when I look at a sample from a  bed that is growing very well it can show very little microbial life.
Some bacteria and that’s about it. I would have thought for a good growing crop you would see a lot more.

For compost its shows more of what you should see – Bacteria, Nematodes, Fungi, and Protozoa as it goes anaerobic.

On the subject of Protozoa, my understanding is in good soil or compost you should not really find many as it's aerobic.
Protozoa will only appear when it starts turning anaerobic?

For compost teas, if you started with good compost and feed and aerate you should end up with an abundance of all the
microbes but again as it’s very aerobic no protozoa.

My last question is – When applying a compost tea to soil should you see more microbial life a week later?

Thanks in advance.
Susan Wakeman
Posts: 159
Location: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Europe
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Good questions. Following.
Anne Pratt
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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I confess I have not read all of it, so I'm not certain if your questions are thoroughly covered.  But a very good place to start is [url=Dr. Bryant RedHawk%27s Soil Thread]https://permies.com/wiki/redhawk-soil[/url].  Dr. RedHawk is an incredible resource, and there are posts on using a microscope to evaluate your soil.  

He also kindly answers questions!  But the large compendium of knowledge he has already laid out (in language we can understand) is the perfect place to start, continue, and study.
Eric Hanson
Posts: 3069
Location: Southern Illinois
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I will attempt to answer a very narrow part of this important question.  But for starters, I am wishing that we could get a soil test that instead of giving NPK readings gave soil microbe readings.

One extremely important form of soil life to consider is fungi, especially mycorrhizal fungi.  These fungi attach themselves to plant roots and act like root extensions, but better.  The mycorrhizal fungi will actually scavenge soil for nutrients and provide them to plants in exchange for carbohydrates.  It is a true symbiotic relationship.  

These fungi can form vast webs.  In fact, they can be so large that I hesitate to even call them microbes, but nonetheless they are extremely important to truly healthy soil and are debatably the most important of healthy soil biota.  Other microbes obviously are important as well, but the mycorrhizal fungi are my suggestion to take the top spot.

I hope this helps,

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