microBIOMETER® began with Dr. Judith Fitzpatrick’s background in microbiology, medical diagnostic test development, and manufacturing 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.
Dr. Judith Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.
Dr. Judith Fitzpatrick is a microbiologist and a recognized leader in the development of on-site diagnostic tests. She was the founder and CEO of Serex from 1985 until its sale to a Canadian Pharmaceutical Company in 2002. At Serex, she developed more than 15 medical diagnostic tests with unique reagents and methods of testing. Under FDA supervision, Serex manufactured about 3 million tests a year for insurance laboratories.
Judy transitioned to teaching as a Professor at Bergen Community College and as a result of a $600,000 NSF grant, she developed a quality assurance training program. She presented a test for microbial biomass to NSF as a quality control test and was authorized to work with students to initiate an investigation. Bergen Community College released IP rights to the test to Prolific Earth Sciences and they are now a minority shareholder. Judy combined her expertise in diagnostic testing and manufacturing with her profound belief in the mission to help improve farming practices. She has over 15 published papers and holds 13 patents. Judy loves playing tennis, visiting with her children, grandchildren & friends, reading, tinkering in the lab and ending each day having dinner with her husband. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Judith_Fitzpatrick.
Dr. Brady Trexler, Ph.D.
Dr. Brady Trexler is a neuroscientist who has headed and worked in several medical school research labs. He brings a unique combination of rigorous academic research and real-world app development skills to Prolific Earth Sciences. He is an expert in the neuroscience of mammalian vision, software engineering, and biomedical device development. Dr. Trexler pioneered the cell phone reader for microBIOMETER® providing precise, fast, and easy to access data to soil stewards without the need for labs or expensive equipment. In his spare time, Brady likes to read, play guitar, ride his motorcycle, and smoke ribs and briskets. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brady_Trexler
James Sottilo, founder of Ecological Landscape Management, is a nationally recognized lecturer, arborist and consultant. James has built his career around his passion for the natural rhythms of nature and has continued to pioneer the industry through his design of innovative landscape ecology practices, research and technology. James has served as a key speaker at conferences such as the ASLA’s Annual Meeting and Expo, Atlanta’s Organic Land Care Symposium, and New York’s Botanical Garden presentations; his ideas and experiences have been highlighted in publications such as the Boston Society of Landscape Architects Field book and Landscape Architecture Magazine.