Ecothrive Biosys: Q & A with Gareth

Ecothrive Biosys: Q & A with Gareth

Gareth Hopcroft
Gareth Hopcroft
31 Aug 2016

If you like Ecothrive Charge you’ll love Biosys. It’s only just been launched and is already flying off the shelves. 

But what is it? How does it work? Find out now – Gareth from Ecothrive has given us the lowdown with a Q & A session.

Ecothrive Biosys Ecothrive Biosys


What is Ecothrive Biosys?


Biosys is a concentrated powder that you add to water or a nutrient solution to make what we call a ‘microbe tea’.


Interesting. What does it do?


In a nutshell, Biosys increases root mass, improves plant growth, wards off pathogens and builds plants defences. 


Sounds great! So how does Biosys promote plant & root growth? 


The microbes in Biosys are activated by the catalysts when applied to the root zone. Root growth is stimulated, nutrient uptake is increased, water availability is improved and the breakdown of organic matter occurs at a faster rate.

This has a noticeable effect on plant growth and root growth. 

roots grown in coco with Charge and mycorriza roots grown in coco with Charge and mycorriza


Good stuff. Can you tell us a bit more about that?


Firstly, Biosys contains 8 species of endomycorrhizal fungi, a beneficial fungus for the roots that improves water availability and nutrient uptake, most importantly phosphorus.  

To do this, the mycorrhizal fungi establish exchange sites in plant root cells. Through these sites, your plant feeds the fungi sugars.

In return, the fungi gathers water and nutrients through its fungal network and transports them directly to the plant. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

Some bacillus species and a nitrogen fixing bacteria called Azospirillum in Biosys are ‘mycorrhizae helper bacteria’ – they help the mycorrhizae establish and function.

Pretty cool, right? 

Roots Roots

Biosys also contains 8 species of Bacillus, these perform many roles in the root zone, one of which is assisting mycorrhizae. Another, is making locked up minerals soluble and available to your plants.

The Bacillus, along with 2 species of Pseudomonas and Trichoderma, also help degrade complex organic matter so it can be converted to nutrition.

Then there’s the Azotobacter and Azosiprillium – nitrogen fixing bacteria that live close to the root surface. They take nitrogen from air and turn it into a form plants can use.

Some of the Bacillus, Pseudomonas and nitrogen fixers are also classed as plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR’s). 

These clever organisms produce hormone substances, such as cytokinins and auxins, that help promote root development and other kinds of growth!


Awesome. And what about disease prevention? 


So, Biosys contains 2 species of Trichoderma - beneficial fungi that are great at degrading other fungi and pathogens. Specifically, they’re known to help fight Pythium!  

The Bacillus and 2 species of Pseudomonas in Biosys also help with pathogen control. 


Fascinating stuff! Can you tell us about microbial catalysts in Biosys? 


The microbial food sources in Biosys are carbohydrates, humic acid, seaweed extract, amino acids and proteins.

They help the microorganisms in Biosys grow steadily, into a balanced community in the root zone.

There are lots of microbial products you can buy for your gardens, but very few supply food sources with them, like Biosys does.

Healthy plant established with Charge and mycorrhizae fungi Healthy plant established with Charge and mycorrhizae fungi

It’s worth noting that some of these catalysts also improve plant growth and growing media conditions. The seaweed extract and amino acids aid plant growth. The humic acids improve nutrient exchange in the growing media.

Mixing up Ecothrive Biosys Mixing up Ecothrive Biosys


So you call it a ‘microbe tea’. Is this because it’s like a compost tea? 


Biosys does not contain any compost at all, so it’s certainly not a compost tea, but it does have some similarities.  

With compost tea, you take very high quality compost (or worm castings) and add them to aerated water with microbial food sources (like molasses and seaweed) to multiply the naturally occurring community of microbes found in the compost.  

The liquid you make from this process is referred to as a ‘tea’, mainly because of the brewing process in the water. Our ‘microbe tea’ contains microbial food sources and a range of cultured microorganisms instead of compost, but does not need brewing like aerated compost tea. 


How is it that no brewing is needed?


Our approach with Biosys is similar to making and using a compost extract rather than brewing a compost tea.

If you do your research into compost tea, you will soon find out that many experienced makers and users of compost teas now have two general approaches; brewing for foliar spraying and extracting for soil or growing media application.

Brewing aerated compost tea in water with microbial foods is typically done for 24-48 hours with the intention of multiplying the microbes in the solution. Making a compost extract involves adding the compost to water, aerating or simply stirring and agitating the compost for around 15-30 minutes, then add some microbial food sources and apply immediately to the soil.

When making an extract, the goal is to knock the microbes off the compost and put them into a solution so they can then be dispersed onto the soil and become active in the root zone.

Aerated compost tea brewing at GroWell Hydroponics Sheffield Aerated compost tea brewing at GroWell Hydroponics Sheffield

The general consensus for these two approaches has come to light after compost tea experts like Elaine Ingham have found better results through extracting compost for soil application and brewing compost for foliar applications.

The current understanding for why this is: when microbes are actively growing during brewing, they produce a sticky substance around themselves; this helps them stick to the leaves when spraying.

However, during the brewing cycle of aerated compost tea you get a proliferation of microorganisms from the compost, but these microbes that flourish in the bubbly water are often not very well suited to life in soil. 

You also tend to get less diverse communities of microorganisms due to competition between microbial species in the water.

So with Biosys, we have formulated a unique mix of microorganisms together with food sources for them to do their work where we need them to: in the root zone. 


Your first product Charge is a firm favourite with our Soil and Coco growers! How does Biosys fit in with Charge?


The two actually work really well together.  

Charge contains organic nutrients that are released slowly to plants… the microorganisms in Biosys improve this nutrient release.  

Ecothrive BiosysGareth from Ecothrive with first prize winnning grower, and the giant onion she grew using Charge and Biosys Ecothrive BiosysGareth from Ecothrive with first prize winnning grower, and the giant onion she grew using Charge and Biosys

On top of this, the food sources in Biosys activate the growth of microorganisms found in both Charge and Biosys.

Soon after the initial trials with Charge, we noticed that mycorrhizal fungi work really well in ‘Charged-up’ growing media.

This has been backed up by lots of growers over the years who have found they got better growth when using Charge with mycorrhizal fungi together than they did when using either one alone.

Root Riot Cube Soak Root Riot Cube Soak


When is best to start using Biosys?


During propagation, to get the mycorrhizae spores onto the roots as early as possible.  

Plants treated with Biosys during propagation also establish better onto hydroponic systems. 


Do you just mix it with your water and nutrients as normal?


Good question. It’s best to go easy with Biosys.

You can use it with water and low strength feeds (no more than EC 1.5 / CF 15, excluding your tap water EC). Use Biosys with high strength feeds and some of the microorganisms won’t become active. I always recommend using it with just water when growing in soil and coco.


Do you need to filter the water before mixing Biosys?


Because Biosys is all about allowing the microbes to flourish in the root zone it is important to use dechlorinated water. Chlorine will kill micro-life.  

Let tap stand for 12-24 hours, or aerate vigorously for an hour to allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Biosys Biosys

If your tap water has a more persistent form of chlorine (called chloramine), leave it to aerate for around 7 days, or use a Reverse Osmosis water filter.


So can it be left in a static nutrient reservoir or does it need aeration?


It’s best to mix Biosys and use straight away.  

When mixing it at 5g-10g per 10 L for propagation or watering coco and soil, use it within 24-48 hours if aerated. If you have a static reservoir with no aeration, use it within 8 hours.  

If adding it to an actively aerated hydro system at 2.5g per 10L, you can allow the nutrient solution to recirculate for 7-14 days.  

I always recommend using it with just water when growing in soil and coco. 


What are the benefits in hydro systems like RDWC and NFT?


Biosys will inoculate your system with bacteria and fungi that help defend against pathogens while improving root growth and function.

Healthy roots growing in DWC system with biological prevention Healthy roots growing in DWC system with biological prevention


Give us some tips on how to use it when hand feeding soil and coco.


If you’ve used Biosys during propagation, you can use it for watering soil and coco at a rate of 5g per 10L every 1 to 2 weeks. When using Biosys in Soil or Coco, preferably use water only, particularly during mid to late flower, as this will also help to balance the conductivity around the roots, kind of like a mini ‘flush’ while providing a kick of biology.

If your growing media is very dry, water it first with a half strength feed as per your program, then once the media is rehydrated use Biosys; this will allow you to use less product, more effectively.


Can growers use it in run-to-waste drip systems?


You can deliver it through a drip system but its best to follow up with a system flush.

The best way to use Biosys through a drip system is to wait until the reservoir is low, add Biosys and irrigate through the system.

Once the reservoir is empty, top up with water, add nutrients to half strength and allow the next irrigation. This will flush the remaining Biosys through the lines and drippers.

You can then top your reservoir up to the desired nutrient strength and continue as normal. 

Thanks for all the info Gareth, I’m sure this product will go down really well with our growers! It’s a bit of a no-brainer!

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Gareth Hopcroft
Gareth Hopcroft
About the author

Meet the maker of Ecothrive. When he's not getting messy with insect frass, Gareth likes to blog! Well, his hints are welcome here.