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Effects of GSR Calcium and Compost Tea on Forage Yield & Quality

Updated: May 12

Collaborating Producer: Grant and Audry Gaschnitz, High Prairie

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2011 Annual Report


Calcium (Ca), in various forms, has long been the go to mineral when adjusting for pH, but it also performs other functions in the soil and plants. It is the tour guide and referee to nutrients in the soil, as it can lower the conductivity of the soil, and with a lower conductivity, minerals that were previously locked up are now available for the plant’s use. Genesis Soil Rite (GSR) Ca from Sustainable Soil Solutions (http:// www.ssscinc.com/gsr.html) is a proprietary blend of lime, limestone and all natural minerals, herbs and spices for the soil. The term “Compost Tea” specifically describes the watery solution obtained by soaking compost in water in the presence of nutrients such as molasses, kelp, humic acid and fresh fish fertilizer. Compost tea (CT) is a readily available form of compost that will affect the plant more quickly than compost mixed with soil. Different types of compost can be used to create the tea depending on what factors you would like to affect in your soil, such as better fungal growth or bacterial or both. The following report highlights the results of a trial on the assessment of forage yield and quality following GSR Ca and compost tea applications.


Methods

The trial commenced in 2010 on a declining pasture located in High Prairie. The pre-inoculation of compost (compost activation) should begin 5 days before brewing and this involves measuring a predetermined amount of compost ingredients (Alaska humus, worm castings, humic acid, fish fertilizer, oat flour), mixed thoroughly and allowed to stay for 5 days. The brewing (tea making) process involves placing the active compost into a large water permeable teabag (800um) along with an aerator stone. This is placed into a 650L non-chlorinated water filled tank and some more additives such as humic acid, kelpgrow and fish fertilizer added for microbes to feed on. Another aerator stone is placed inside the water tank for ample aeration. The brew is aerated for 24 hours before application. The water to be used would have to be put in the tank 24 hours before brewing to bring the temperature of water up to air temperature. The brew time allows time for the water to become inundated with fine particulate matter, microbes and soluble chemical components of compost. Well oxygenated water at the correct temperature allows for the living organisms and nutrients in the compost to migrate to the water and become active.

In our study, we imposed three treatments and these consisted of: (1) application of GSR Ca alone, (2) application of GSR Ca + Compost Tea (CT), (3) application of CT alone, and (4) check plots. Both the GSR Ca and CT were sprayed into the desired treatment plots. Each plot measured 2 acres. The goal with the GSR Ca and CT was to create better soils, both in structure and in microbial activity, as well as healthier plants, by increasing protein and improving forage digestibility. Following 24 hours of brewing, the tea is transferred into a sprayer. The tea is then sprayed (foliar sprays) into the desired treatments (GSR Ca + CT and CT) at 50 L/ac. A boomless sprayer nozzle is used so