Making Liquid Fertilizer; Bio-Processing Organic Matter with Vortex

Silos for preserving plant nutrients



Where did all the silo’s go?

Silos used to dot the countryside of America. That was back in the day, when farmers appreciated the value of green manures as a of fodder for livestock. Animals get a tremendous amount of nutrients from green grasses and plant trimmings. This is particularly true when anaerobic bacteria work to decompose and ferment the greens. When plant matter decomposes in the presence of oxygen, as is common in open fields or untended composts, greenhouse gasses form and vital nutrients are lost. Nitrogen gas, hydrogen sulfide and CO2 are the consequence of not using silos to store these valuable by-products of the farm.

Tilapia are like cows.
They are vegetarians, herbivores. Contrary to conventional thinking, fish do not prefer manufactured foods. They like plants and bacteria that decompose those plants. Plus they eat algae. Duckweed is an exceptional plant that tilapia feed on as are the roots of water hyacinth and alligator weed. But to grow even water plants we must start by adding a nutrient loop and preferably with the green matter of crop trimmings. Abundantly available grasses and greens give us the feed stock for livestock and also fish and their diet of aquatic organisms.
So here’s how it works, harvest the grass, and put it into a silo. The barrels below are what we find to be most practical, unless of course you already own a silo. Barrels can be transported and in fact, when loaded with fish and animal fodder, are a commodity to farmers. Then store the green manure, letting it ferment.  When raising fish we take some pounds of the manure and put it into our anaerobic or aerobic digester, or within Fertilizer Tea Bags, direclty into the Bigarden.

Silage fodder for herbivore fish, like tilapia and carp.
After a few weeks of decomposing in the silo we feed the grasses to our tilapia and make fertilizer teas for the Biogarden. Chickens like grass as do other foul and livestock. This is a great way to sustainably raise fish food, plant fertilizers and simultaneously, sequester CO2 and other greenhouse gasses.

Make Compost Tea

Making Compost Tea and Fertilizer Tea

Fertilizer teas have more nutrients than compost teas

We’re doing something different to make plant fertilizers at Bioponica. It is similar to making compost tea but it’s different.  We’re making liquid fertilizer teas.

Compost teas are good for putting plant friendly microbes into solution and multiplying them through aeration and adding simple sugars. Bacteria comsumes the sugars and quickly multiplies. It provides essential elements to improve plant growth.

Worm teas are similar to compost teas, though there’s a bit of a difference with the microbe characteristics. Fungi are more prevalent in compost teas. Bacteria dominate worm teas as they are colonized in the gut of earthworms.

How to make compost teas and worm teas is pretty basic. In a suitable filtration tea bag add a ratio of worm castings. Close bag and introduce to dechlorinated water, preferably rain water or well water. Add sugar, molasses or another natural sweetener to the water and aerate. Within about 24 hours your compost tea is finished and ready to apply to the soil or to your soilless growing system.


Fertilizer Tea

Bioponica developed an easy DIY fertilizer process and inexpensive system making fertilizer teas.

Teas that have greater NPK percentages that compost teas can be considered Fertilizer Teas. We make fertilizer teas to support the Biogarden for deep water culture or for flood and drain techniques within the troughs. This doesn’t eliminate the usefulness of aerated and fermented compost teas and brewed worm teas. On the contrary, they are very compatible.

Bioponica lettuce growing fertilizer tea recipe:

  • 5 lbs blended green kitchen discards (in blender or food processor)
  • or 5 lbs of fresh green yard trimmings (weeds, leaves, grasses).
  • 3 x 2′ Bio-Fertilizer Tea Bag
  • 55 gallon barrel of water (half full)

Soak for 24-36 hours without aeration in the drum or in a 5 gallon Extraction Bucket. Put contents into 55 gallon drum and attache Vortex Aerator and Biofilter. The contents of the bag will remain partially anaerobic. The plant derived extract will quickly convert into a Fertilizer Tea. Good for lettuce or green leafy vegetable grow area of 10 sq ft and will last 1-2 weeks depending on system and plant size.

Vortex Fertilizer Tea Brewer

Operating the Vortex Fertilizer Brewer™

The Bucket Vortex Aerator™ sits upon the Bucket Biofilter™. The inline processing removes water from the drum and passes it through the aerating vortex which spills in to the biological filter.

Place the Vortex Fertilizer Kit™ above the barrel. Connect hoses and turn on the pump.

Tip: If you have access to vermiculture earthworm castings or a decomposed compost pile add 3 lbs of the compost to the 55 gallon barrel after the fertilizer extraction, aeration and filtration has been going for 24 hours. No need to add sugars, as there’s lots of carbon and sugars from the biomass that was used to make the tea.

Leave the Vortex Fertilizer Brewer™ running until the desired amount of carbon and ammonia conversion. Usually 3-4 days. You’ll know when it’s complete, when the turbidity and cloudiness disappears and when the water sweet extract aroma has peaked, carbon is removed, ammonia nitrified and the water becomes mostly odorless.

Happy gardening.