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Registered: 08/15/08
Posts: 230
Last seen: 10 years, 2 months
Surfactant which promotes fungals: Yucca (to replace Jet Dry??)
    #8809420 - 08/22/08 05:10 AM (10 years, 3 months ago)

Hi all!

I hope everyone is good today :smile:

I am going to use peat as base of my casing mix and I'm also going to make LC and my own syringes.  For these two reasons I want an OMRI, or at least natural 'non-ionic sticker/spreader surfactant' without any preservatives.  I read that here many people use "Jet Dry" and I have a very big suspicion that Jet Dry is not good for spores/LC/sub/etc, or at least not ideal by any stretch.

Yucca is a great natural non-inonic sticker/spreader surfactant and even better is it can also be a good fungal/mushroom food!  But a concern I have is the idea of adding yucca to a syringe, is that wise as it is essentially adding food to a syringe (which may not be a great idea depending upon if it's spores or LC I guess?)

When adding Jet Dry we are really adding it for it's spreader/sticker surfactant properties.  So everything that calls for Jet Dry can be (and IMO should be) replaced with yucca extract.  When making syringes I will use yucca in place of Jet Dry.  And for soaking grain or WBS the addition of yucca should be very beneficial, not only will it increase the effectiveness of the soak, it will feed the future fungals.  The same goes for bulk sub and amendments like vermiculite, it should be beneficial to add yucca surfactant to the initial soaking of most any substance.

I am  going to use Canadian peat moss (most environmentally sound peat) as a main part of my casing mix.  Mainly because it's a GREAT home for microbes, fungals, etc. Canadian peat ("Premiere" has been tested) naturally contains large quantities of dormant microbes and protozoa which have evolved over millenia to use it.  Coir does not have this long term relationship with microbes and fungals...

But the big problem with peat is that it's very hydrophobic, that is, once dry it doesn't absorb water well at all.  Once peat reaches about 35% dryness it starts to become hydrophobic and then can hurt fungals and other microbes.  So we need a surfactant to reduce the surface tension of the water to allow it to more easily penetrate the peat, this has the great advantage of making the 're-moistening' of the casing very easy, even with a spray bottle of water.

Yucca extract contains "saponins" which act as the surfactant and a high brix (50% usually) sugar content which is a fungal food as carbohydrates.  And yucca is a great surfactant that meets my criteria above.  But, I didn't want to use it unless it was proven and tested to at least not inhibit fungal growth, but ideally promote fungal growth.  However, as long as the yucca product is OMRI and free of preservatives it should work very well (depending upon brix and saponin content) and I'd feel safe using it without assays (tests) before hand...

One important point is not all yucca products are equal, some contain preservatives which can inhibit or reduce fungal growth...So I started looking into it and found two great solutions: "Saponyn" and "Ag-Aid 50"...read on!

I've been working in the field of microbes for a while now and have a good bit of experince with extracting fungals into ACT (Aerated Compost Tea) from compost; which is done via coxing them out with some or all of these amendments: yucca, hydrolyzed fish, kelp, humic acid, etc, and a bit of agitation.  Though I realize they are different fungals from p.cube but, p.cube type mushrooms should also utilize these items.  And there is a nice scientist named Dr. Laura Ingham who is a famous microbiologist who focused on soil life (aka microherds, AM, "soil food web", etc).  She runs a series of world-renown labs which run assays on ACT, etc.  For more info see the site:  "Soil Foodweb International" (SFI)

SFI can run comparative assays on ACT brewed with and with out amendments to see what effect they actually have upon bacteria, fungals and protozoa.  SFI has researched and tested many different yucca products for their effect upon fungals.

The only yucca surfactant proven (by SFI, Dr. Ingham) to promote fungals is "Saponyn" by 'American Extracts'[1]. But, I also found a great option that I'll be using called "Yucca Ag-Aide 50" by 'Desert King'[2].

The only down side to Saponyn is that it's expensive!  The up side is Ag-Aide 50 is inexpensive! lol.  And one product you don't want to use is "Therm-X70", it inhibits fungal growth possibly due to preservatives[3].

  1. "Saponyn" on the web: LINK
    It used to be certified OMRI and still could be but the manufacturers let the license lapse[4].  Saponyn is about $115.00 a gallon, but that gallon should last you year or more...low application rates.  I have some Saponyn on the way next week and if anyone is interested in testing with it I could send you an a 1/2 ounce or more for free :smile: .  That should be more than enough to do many tests!  Let me know if anyone is interested.


    Saponyn is a concentrated natural extract from Yucca schidigera. It contains 20% Sapponin, a natural wetting agent that can be used to improve soil penetration. It can be an excellent tool to manage excess salt in the soil and provides a food source for soil microbial populations. Saponyn is used to reduce the surface tension and improve the wetting of agricultural sprays. It improves water penetration and can be used to move spray solutions into the soil solution. Saponyn is National Organics Program compliant.

  2. "Yucca Ag-Aide 50" on the web: LINK
    It is certified OMRI.  Ag-Aide 50 is a very good option that I will use when I have to purchase a yucca product, it's $13.50 a pint so  a good deal less expensive :smile:  It has 50% brix and 10-12% saponin.  This product is also noted by Dr. Ingham as being a good possibility, thought it's untested.  But, it does not contain any preservatives so it should work very well and is much less expensive!!! :smile:

Here's some test results and notes :smile:

Dr. Ingahm:

Saponin - Helena Chemical Co has exclusive rights to the best saponin product we've tested yet - no preservatives.  And sorry, I haven't seen a better one.  Anything else we have worked with has negative effects, because of the preservative in the material, low concentration, doesn't get the organisms to grow.  If someone knows of something else, let me know, and let's test it!  But, track down the saponyn product from Helena because it works.


> First, what has worked to increase fungi in your teas?
> Second, what have people tested?

Good question Jeff,.  Bacteria is easy for me also BUT I want fungi for soil drench.  Helena Saponyn has given me the highest measured fungal - 5.5 which is still just so-so.  As Elaine has said it foams wildly (as I found out!!) so I add at the end of brewing for soil application which might not help tea fungal growth that much but it does get into soil and help soil fungal growth (I hope).  Certain oils are said to reduce foaming but didn't much for me.

Applicatoin Rates:
A little yucca goes a long way and if you use too much it can become "phytotoxic" so I assume it can also be "fungitoxic".  Yucca (from saponins) can also become phytotoxic and fungitoxic in media if it's used too often.  If your using Saponyn then  less is better because it has higher saponin %  and Ag-Aide has lower saponin %.

Saponyn: (I think this is Therm-X70 without preservatives and better quality)
A rate of 0.0005 to 0.001 is probably best, but I'm gonna contact the manufacture just to make sure.  That would mean 2.5-5 ml (or .5-1 tsp) per gallon. 

  • 50% brix ('food')

  • 20% saponin (surfactant)

  • 2.5:1 ratio of brix to saponin [e.g. food to surfactant]

Ag-Aide 50: (without preservative, non-food grade)
A rate of 0.001 to a max of 0.002 is probably wise, but I'm gonna contact the manufacture just to make sure.  That would mean 5-10 ml (or 1-2 tsp) per gallon.  One thing I like about Ag-Aide 50 is it has a 5:1 ratio of brix:saponin so it should be even a more safe fungal 'food' source as it's has less saponins :smile:

  • 50% brix ('food')

  • 10-12% saponin (surfactant)

  • 5:1 ratio of brix to saponin [e.g. food to surfactant]

[1] American Extracts (producers of Saponyn)

[2] Desert King (producers of Ag-Aide 50)

[3] http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/compostteas/Week-of-Mon-20020520/000047.html

[4] http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/compostteas/Week-of-Mon-20020610/000195.html


P.S. I'm also going to do a thread on other proven amendments which promote fungals, especially baby oatmeal flour, ala "activating" compost or vermicompost, etc.  Should be a great addition to poo bulk sub :smile:

Edited by quickpick (08/31/08 05:44 AM)

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