by Marisa Flannery
Soil Scientist at Prolific Earth Sciences, Inc.
One up-and-coming method of monitoring soil biology is with the microBIOMETER®. The microBIOMETER® uses a two-part patented technology to determine the microbial biomass carbon and the fungal to bacterial ratio of soil, compost, and compost tea and extract. As soil microbes secrete a substance which binds them to non-living soil particles, microBIOMETER® has found a way to separate the microbes from these non-living soil particles, allowing users to extract and sample the separated, soil-colored microbes. The next part occurs in the smartphone application, which measures the size and color intensity of the microbes and outputs the percentage of fungi and bacteria in your soil and how much carbon is contained within those fungi and bacteria.
At Prolific Earth Sciences, our goal is to help farmers and growers understand and monitor their soil health better with a rapid, cost-effective test. The microBIOMETER® will help determine which practices are increasing the carbon in your soil and helping build a healthier soil. It allows anyone to test living soil on-site with results available in 20 minutes. The test is very easy to perform – regardless of your soil testing knowledge – and each individual test is about $13, with prices decreasing with bulk orders. In addition, once downloaded, our app is easily accessible in any part of the world, with no WiFi or internet needed to perform the test or access results. In the microBIOMETER® app, users can include additional soil property information to their samples, download all data from the Cloud Portal, and create projects and invite other members to access and contribute their test results to the project in the Project Management feature.
Our Founder, Judy Fitzpatrick, was a dedicated microbiologist working in medical diagnostic test development when she gained a new understanding and level of respect for the role microbes play in soil health. She had realized that existing tests for soil quality were focused on chemistry and physical properties, rather than biological ones; and while there was a lot of information on the benefits of testing soil for microbial biomass, many growers were largely unable to due to costly and out of reach lab tests. This prompted Judy and her partners to develop a test and platform device that would be affordable for all growers, had few steps and would produce fast results, and was highly accurate. After years of working around the clock with passion and determination, Judy and her team released the microBIOMETER® for sale in 2018. Before her passing in 2022, Judy spent the remainder of her time educating soil stewards around the world on the importance of microbial biomass and soil health.