Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Counting on compost tea to get the job done at CU-Boulder
Boulder, CO, with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, is a beautiful city and home to the University of Colorado. Those leaning to the right on the political scale sometimes refer to Boulder as “The Republic of Boulder” for its progressive attitude on environmental and social issues. (Image courtesy UC-Boulder)
Therefore, we weren’t surprised to read that CU-Boulder will begin using compost tea rather than synthetic fertilizers and conventional pesticides to keep its common areas healthy and weed free.
The first phase of the program will cut the use of herbicides on turf areas this season by 45% compared to the 2009 season, and by 93% by the end of 2012, said an article on dailycamera.com. Student leaders think it’s a grand idea.
Switching from traditional products to compost tea (aided by some hand weeding) is going to be costly. Frank Bruno, vice chancellor for planning and administration at CU-Boulder, says the switchover could cost $90,000 extra a year. (Ouch!).
We’re not pooh-poohing compost teas, which have intrigued some of the industry’s more adventuresome professionals for decades. We’ve interviewed more than a few landscape/lawn service professionals who swear by their brews in improving plant performance and suppressing diseases. Almost to the person, they say their biggest challenges are manufacturing consistent product from batch to batch and producing teas in sufficient quantities for commercial purposes.
A good place to start if you're curious about compost teas is a fact sheet “Compost Tea: Miracle or Marketing Gimmick,” by Linda Chalker-Scott, associate professor and extension horticulturist, at Washington State University.