microBIOMETER® began with Dr. Judith Fitzpatrick’s National Science Foundation Quality Assurance grant. Dr. Fitzpatrick’s background in microbiology, medical diagnostic test development, and manufacturing was combined with her new understanding and respect for the role microbes play in soil health. She realized that existing tests for soil quality were based on chemistry and physical properties not the critical role that microbes play in soil and plant health.
As she worked to develop the test she partnered with James Sotillo – an early adopter of regenerative landscaping practices. James was frustrated with the lack of an on-site test for microbial biomass that growers could use to quickly evaluate soil health measures. The lab tests he was currently using cost over $100 per sample and required waiting weeks for results.
As test development progressed, it became apparent to Judith and James that the dream of a low- cost, on-site microbial biomass test would require analysis and data processing by cell phone. As luck would have it, Dr. Fitzpatrick was working with Dr. Brady Trexler, a neurophysiologist, who had just these skills. The team worked for 3 years to develop a test and platform device that could be manufactured inexpensively, had few steps, was highly accurate, could be analyzed by an app with computer grade accuracy and contained the ability for additional soil tests to be added.
It took effort, passion and determination and microBIOMETER® was released for sale in January 2018. Although 2 million articles report that microbial biomass (MB) is the single best indicator of soil health, growers were unfamiliar with this data since lab tests for MB were costly and out of reach for most. It was left to Prolific Earth Sciences (PES), the makers of microBIOMETER®, to educate soil stewards on the importance of MB.
Together with Jeff Lowenfels and others in the regenerative agriculture space, PES mounted an educational campaign that has resulted in steadily increasing sales in 18 countries and growing. In April 2020, the microBIOMETER® platform was enhanced to include the much requested fungal to bacterial ratio test. PES has plans to add more soil health tests to their suite of offerings in the future.