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Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea

Posted by Brandt Schisler 
Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 29, 2021 12:22AM
I am about to make a brew of Silica Tea and I was reading an article about the Pro's and Con's of different rock dusts when I noticed that Diatomaceous Earth is about 85% amorphous silica, a much higher percentage than Basalt dust. My thought would be to use it in place of Basalt dust for the silica tea but wanted to hear the opinion of others before I do. Is there something other than silica in the Basalt dust that we are seeking for our Silica tea? Or will the Diatomaceous Earth suffice in that brew? Disclaimer: I have everything for the silica tea BUT the Basalt dust.

Thank you,
Brandt Schisler
Hickory Ridge Orchard
Zone 6b in Missouri
Re: Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 29, 2021 09:01AM
I've only brewed plant extracts to get a silica rich tea, eg horsetail, nettle, but this early in the season, no plants available.So your post was interesting to me as way around that. i always thought plant available mineral could not be derived from a solid form like basalt dust or DE. Have you established that this is indeed possible? And will the solids based source go through your sprayer or stay in suspension with agitation?

Old 99 Farm and permaculture site
Dundas ON 5b
Re: Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 29, 2021 01:07PM
Buying dried horsetail from biodynamic outfitters like JPI is a way to go early in the season. Brewed as a fresh tea or a allowed to ferment and then used and diluted through the season is a great way to go. DE is another way to go as well and probably more direct (ground, 85% SiO2) than horsetail, but less so than rock. Silica from rock can be tricky. While basalt is ~50% SiO2, in can dangerous when applied foliarly at high doses and esp at the wrong time of day. IN biodynamics, the use of 501 (ground silica transformed in a cow's horn) is applied at the rate of 1/2 tsp per 3 gal water (stirred properly) early in the morning. Applied later than that or at high doses can burn the plants. the silica provides some diseases protection, but can also boost Pn rates in the plant. Ground applied 501, silica or salt at higher doses is not theoretically dangerous, but can induce drying effects on the soils and plants. Lastly, there are silica based products you can buy like Sil-Matrix, but that's whole different way of getting silica onto and into the plants than naturally using crushed rocks or horsetail. The real point is that - from a bd perspective - you are trying to create silicic acid from the silica source and not just apply pure silica. There's a whole cosmological reason for that, but just getting silica on the farm and plants is important in and of it self.

Mike Biltonen, Know Your Roots
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 29, 2021 04:14PM
Ian - Mike, to be clear, I am fermenting a Silica Tea using Michael's recipe as follows:

Silica Tea Ingredients: horsetail, seeded nettle, EM, Azomite clay, soft rock phosphate, basalt dust, humic & fulvic acids.

What I am attempting to do is just replace the basalt dust with DE in equal amounts as suggested and brew it for 14 days in a 55 gallon barrel, strain multiple times, and then apply it to our orchard using our air blast sprayer at a rate of 6-8 gallons per 100 gallons of water/acre. My thoughts are that the fermenting process is creating silicic acid from all the products in that brew and with it being diluted down to a 6-8% rate in the tank during application I should be safe from burning the plants. I was hesitant on using the DE due to the higher silica but from what I understand from Mike's response is just getting the silica on the plants is what is important.

This brew will be combined with the calcium brew and Core Holistic Recipe (w/seacrop) along with Manganese chelate to balance everything out.

Thanks,
Brandt Schisler
Hickory Ridge Orchard
Zone 6b in Missouri
Re: Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 29, 2021 08:46PM
I'm glad this came up for several reasons... one of which has a direct correlation to arboreal microbes. Otherwise, I consider fermented plant extracts to have far more to do with tree nutrition from the sap perspective.

The recipe Brandt refers to was published in Mycorrhizal Planet in 2017. I shared an earlier version of that information in our Portal Library along with a nutrient analysis of the "teas" made in 2015. I currently add about 2–4# of amendments (depending on what I have on hand) out of concern where those high levels of soluble salts could have even come from. Herbs? Milk? I don't think so but of course repeating those tests for both the calcium and silica brews would cost like $250 and so we extrapolate going forward.

Experimentation is welcome. Folks without access to horsetail can try swamp grasses as a silica source. Diatomaceous earth might prove perfectly amenable. I do agree with Mike that minerals found in any soil amendment either need to be soluble (dissolve readily in water) or else consumed by microbes through fermentation. Azomite, calcium sulfate (gypsum), and colloidal phosphate probably contribute more than harder rock dusts. Still, any residues go to the compost pile so nothing ever gets lost.

Drying horsetail for a spring ferment is on my to-do list. Sap results (by others) appear to indicate that monosilicic acid goes down best in the Spring2, Spring3, and Spring4 apps... and the best source is Equisetum arvense! I've been provided product (CropSIL, essentially a stabilized ferment of horsetail, made by Nuvia Technologies in Ontario) to test in one of my trials this season. I'll continue with the calcium and silica brews in the Comp apps once fresh plant materials have reached the appropriate growth stage, not long after petal fall on the apple trees.

Finally, the basalt angle. A German company called Multikraft has touted the use of micronized basalt as providing a haven for arboreal microbes. This use of an earth element to shelter what are often soil-derived organisms is just brilliant, I think. Those of us using Surround (refined kaolin) gain a similar benefit from the clay coating. I will presoak Basalt Microfines to allow larger particles to settle out, then add fulvic acid (ala Rock Duct Local recommendations) to help better capture the basalt principles, then add approximately 2–4# basalt dust (duly prepped as described) per 100 to the holistic spray tank starting in the fruit sizing window. All's good even if every paramagnetic speck of basalt washes off the tree (to eventually be utilized by soil life) if competitive colonization lasts longer on the leaf surface.

And that's about everything from me on this season's silica front.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2021 03:45PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 29, 2021 11:34PM
two sentences not clear to me, maybe others

I currently add about 2–4# of amendments (depending on what I have on hand) out of concern where those high levels of soluble salts could have even come from."
= you add rock flour amendments to provide a source for soluble salts?

I will presoak Basalt Microfines to allow larger particles to settle out, then add fulvic acid to help better capture the basalt principles, then add approximately 2–4# basalt dust (duly processed as described) per 100 to the holistic spray tank"
= presoak and settle basalt, add fulvic then add more or non-microfine basalt to the tank?
Is the due process the soaking? How to discard the larger particles or at least separate from the fines?

Old 99 Farm and permaculture site
Dundas ON 5b
Re: Using Diatomaceous Earth instead of Basalt in Silica Tea
April 30, 2021 02:55AM
Essentially this is a post about bioavailable silica. There's illuminating information waiting in that linked nutrient analysis concerning certain excesses when I was using higher rates of rock dusts. That said, we should all realize it's the plants we're fermenting that provide the real oomph in these brews. The mineral amendments are merely an extra not an essential. No one tries to up levels of soluble salts ever.

I shared about the basalt microfines cause I find the construct of creating a microbe refuge on the leaf exciting. And if some sort of silica absorption comes into play – which is not my raison directe by any means – then all the better. This particular basalt dust (from Rock Dust Local) has passed through a 200 micron screen so is like 90% soluble. I try to remove any and all sediments before adding "whatever" to the spray tank... which is all I was trying to say.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/30/2021 04:05AM by Michael Phillips.
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