The Soil Food Web refers to complex and highly organized sets of interactions and processes among plants, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and other soil microbes.
Compost teas aid and encourage the Soil Food Web.
Actively Aerated Compost Tea Recipe:
For 5 gallons of tea: Use approximately 1 lb of compost(either from your own compost or a ready to go store bought)
Put compost into a mesh bag and aerate mixture for 24-36 hours. Aerating compost tea will make it many times stronger as the air encourages microbial growth. Use full strength or dilute with equal parts water. Use as a soil drench or as a foliar spray.
Soil Food Web Rules
Some plants prefer soils dominated by fungi; others prefers soil dominated by bacteria.
Most vegetables, annuals, and grasses prefer their nitrogen in nitrate form, and do best in bacterially dominated soils.
Most trees, shrubs, and perennials prefer their nitrogen in ammonium for and do best in fungally dominated soils.
Compost can be used to inoculate beneficial microbes and life into soils around your yard and introduce, maintain, or alter the soil food web in a particular area.
Adding compost and it’s soil food web to the surface of the soil will inoculate the soil with the same soil food web.
Aged, brown organic materials support fungi; fresh green organic materials support bacteria.
Mulch laid on the surface tends to support fungi; mulch worked into the soil tends to support bacteria.
If you wet and grind mulch thoroughly, it speeds up bacterial colonization.
Coarse dryer mulches support fungal activity.
Sugars help bacteria multiply and grow; kelp, humic and fulvic acids and phosphate rock dust help fungi grow.
By choosing the compost you begin with and what nutrients you add to it, you can make teas that are heavily fungal, bacterially dominated, or balanced.
Compost teas are very sensitive to chlorine and preservatives in the brewing water and ingredients.
Applications of synthetic fertilizers kill off most or all of the soil food web microbes.
Stay away from additives that have high NPK numbers.
Follow any chemical spraying or soil drenching with an application of compost tea.
Most conifers and hardwood trees (birch, oak, beech, hickory) form mycorrhizae with ectomycorrhizal fungi.
Most vegetables, annuals, grasses, shrubs, softwood trees, and perennials form mycorrhizae with endomycorrhizal fungi.
Rototilling and excessive soil disturbance destroy or severely damage the soil food web.
Always mix endomycorrhizal fungi with the seeds of annuals and vegetables at planting time or apply them to roots at transplanting time.