Create Healthy Soil Microbes With a Johnson-Su Bioreactor

Would you like to use your leaves to create a fungal rich compost that rebalances soils and holds more carbon and water? Try a Johnson-Su Bioreactor. It is easy to create, requires little space and maintenance. Johnson-Su Bioreactors compost can hold a vast amount of carbon.

Most of our soils have been damaged by pesticides, herbicides and even artificial fertilizers. We have been talked into agriculture practices that are killing the life in our soils. At Heartland All Species Project we build and explain Johnson-Su Bioreactors in our communities in the hope of healing the soils of the Kansas City area. We promote knowledge that healthy soils require biology not chemistry. The organisms of the soil know how to control and deliver the minerals that plants need. In most cases all the minerals needed are in the soil, but the microbes are not. Johnson-Su Bioreactors create natural microbial communities that we can infuse in soils. If we mimic nature we can help the plants and their allies heal the soil.

In contrast to the traditional compost pile, “the static pile Johnson-Su bioreactor never needs turning, never has smells, and does not attract flies. This reactor design allows the material to be composted aerobically, allowing complete biological breakdown of compost materials and resulting in a microbially diverse, fungal dominant compost product. The compost end product has the consistency of clay when mature (you can squeeze the end-product between your fingers and it oozes out like clay.”(from:

The mature compost can be applied as an extract, mixed as a slurry to coat seeds that you intend to plant in large farming operations, or be applied directly as a soil amendment. The compost from Johnson-Su composting bioreactors improves seed germination rates when used to coat seeds, improves soil water infiltration and water retention by helping to increase soil carbon content, and increases plant health, plant growth rates, and crop production.

The Johnson-Su Bioreactor takes a year to reach maturity. It is home to about 100 species of microbes, which create a great diversity of tiny workers. Each species has unique capacities to address varying soil needs. David Johnson, co-creator of the Johnson-Su Bioreactor, compares using this inoculant on seeds to mother’s first milk containing colostrum for digestive health of babies. Plants starting with healthy microbes create more nutritious food and draw down more carbon.

Take the opportunity this Fall to use fallen leaves to build a Johnson-Su Bioreactor. Information can be found at Marty Kraft, our director, has a Facebook page. Tracy Garden is a Facebook group where we post information. Marty can also be contacted at [email protected] or 816-400-2277