Gardening
Phyto-sanitary become phyto-insane

A recommendation by a task force of the US National Organic Standards Board in the USA recently confirmed the fears of many organic growers. The recommendation was that compost tea be not permitted for use on product certified as organic under the National Organic Program (NOP). It is hoped that common sense will finally prevail, and the regulations will not be amended to prevent use of compost tea.

Section 205.203(c) of the final regulations states: The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances.

The recommendation appears to relate only to the use of tea made with animal manures and there is some indication that it will not apply to compost made of only plant material.

Compost, in addition to that described in section 205.203 (c) (2), is acceptable if:

1. It is made from only allowed feedstock materials, except for incidental residues that will not lead to contamination

2. The compost undergoes an increase in temperature to at least 131� F (55�C) and remains there for a minimum of 3 days, and

3. The compost pile is mixed or managed to ensure that all of the feedstock heats to the minimum temperature.

The monitoring of these three parameters must be documented in the Organic System Plan submitted to the certification body by the producer and verified during the site visit.

Vermicompost is acceptable if:

1. It is made from only allowed feedstock materials, except for incidental residues that will not lead to contamination

2. Aerobic conditions are maintained by regular additions of thin layers of organic matter at 1-3 day intervals

3. Moisture is maintained at 70-90%, and

4. Duration of vermicomposting is at least 12 months for outdoor windrows, 4 months for indoor systems, 4 months for angled wedge systems, or 60 days for continuous flow reactors

The actual announcement stated that compost and vermicompost teas are still under review and are, therefore, not eligible to satisfy section 205.203 (c) at this time.

Processed manure materials must be made from manure that has been heated to a temperature in excess of 150� F (65�C) for one hour or more and dried to a moisture level of 12% or less, or an equivalent heating and drying process that produces a product that is negative for pathogenic contamination by salmonella and fecal coliform material.

that molasses could enhance ecoli content by creating anaerobic conditions.

Critics of the recommendation claim that the only research presented to the NOP Board was not made with real compost, but rather with raw animal manures, and therefore it had significant E. coli. It is clear that under certain conditions the use of molasses in compost tea can encourage conditions that provide for rapid reproduction of E. coli.

The recommendation would prevent the use of the type of compost tea system promoted by Elaine Ingham.

Nutrient rich compost tea has been used beneficially for hundreds of years.

There is every reason to promote correct sanitary procedures for the manufacture of any solid or liquid compost and potting soils. The organic industry does this better than anyone else, both by presenting good information within its journals and conference etc, and by the certification and inspection system. Meanwhile non-organic agriculture is much less regulated for the safe use of animal manures.

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