As we learned in the post: Do you know what lives in your soil? | Soil Food Web, microbes in your soil are incredibly important for plant and soil ecosystem health. The soil food web is responsible for helping plants get the nutrients they need. But how can the average gardener know that the steps they are taking to nurture healthy populations of microbes in their soil? Prolific Earth Sciences, a scientific instrument and analysis company, has come up with the ideal tool for home gardeners and small-scale commercial growers: The Microbiometer!
What is a Microbiometer? Utilizing a smart phone or tablet camera and the exclusive app, The Microbiometer accurately measures the populations of microbes less than 100 μm in size. This tool is an effective measure of microbial activity in soil, compost, compost teas, microbial inoculants, and more. Research shows that microbial biomass is a leading indicator of soil health. Microbiometer is a low cost, 20 minutes, on site soil test for microbial biomass and fungal to bacterial ratio. The Microbiometer is a stand-alone testing tool, it requires only a smartphone or tablet (IOS or android) with the Microbiometer app installed. It allows any grower to quickly determine the health of their soil. Regular retesting will provide the necessary data to make intelligent soil management decisions.
The Microbiometer is incredibly easy to use in three easy steps: Mix, drop, scan. First, mix soil sifted with the included sifter and the proprietary reagent solution, then let it settle for 30 seconds. Next, place three (3) drops of the resulting solution on one of the provided test cards. The cards are an integral part of the testing process, the layout and colors on the card enable the algorithm to process the test. Lastly, scan the card with your smart phone using the Microbiometer app. Results are archived into secure cloud storage and saved for later reference. The user can access results from the app anywhere!
It really is that easy. The Microbiometer includes materials for ten (10) tests. Ten tests are enough for the average home gardener in a season. Larger market farms may use more tests in a season. Refills are available and are sold in kits of 10, and there is no limit on how many test results can be associated with one account. There are even educational sets designed to be used in science and agriculture classrooms! The low cost of the initial kit, and refills make the Microbiometer the most cost-efficient option available on the market for testing soil microbial populations.
Once a gardener has the test results, there are a variety of ways to increase microbial populations, which we will discuss thoroughly in another article. Building physically well-structured soil is important for microbe populations. Proper drainage, aeration, and nutrient levels are key. There are a variety of amendments that can help build healthy physical structure in soils, including microbial inoculants. Quantum Organic Total is, perhaps, the best tool a gardener can use to increase soil microbial populations. By inoculating with first trophic level soil microbiota like Rhodopseudomonas palustris, Quantum Organic Total provides a solid base to nurture populations of native fungus, bacteria, and other microbe populations.
Are you a home gardener, market farmer, or commercial grower? Do you want to start building and monitoring the microbial populations and bacteria to fungus ratios in your soil? Grab yourself a Microbiometer and get started today!