Soil research in Kenya with microBIOMETER®

Janet Atandi, a nematology PhD student in Kenya, is currently working on an assessment of banana fiber paper on soil health as part of a Wrap and Plant technology study. In brief, she is testing the long-term effect of using modified banana fiber paper to manage plant-parasitic nematodes and its impact on the beneficial soil microbial communities.

The banana fiber paper is used as an organic carrier for either ultra-low dosages of nematicides (abamectin and fluopyram) or microbial antagonists (Trichoderma spp.) and is to be compared to unmodified paper.

This study is being conducted using potatoes and green peas as the test crops over five consecutive seasons. With the aid of a microBIOMETER® test kit, Janet will be able to assess the impact of the paper on the soil microbial biomass and thus will be able to determine whether the banana paper is effective or detrimental to soil health.

Wrap and Plant technology sources:
NC State explores promising pest-control strategy with high-impact potential for sub-Saharan Africa
Banana’s Waste, potatoes gain
Potato farmers conquer a devastating worm—with paper made from bananas]

Nitrogen fertilizer study at Ursinus College

University study demonstrates legumes are more efficient at improving soil MBC than grasses

Under the direction of Assistant Professor Denise Finney, Kylie Cherneskie, biology student at Ursinus College, conducted an experiment on the impacts of nitrogen fertilizer addition on soil microbial communities. Kylie measured microbial responses using microBIOMETER®.

Click here to view the finished poster presentation. If you would like to incorporate microBIOMETER® into your classroom studies/academic research, we offer a selection of Academia Classroom Kits.

microBIOMETER® assists grower in selecting best fertilization regimens

Austin Arrington of the Plant Group

Austin Arrington of Plant Group NYC performed a research study on hemp’s capacity to sequester carbon. Austin utilized microBIOMETER® in this research. We originally had the pleasure of meeting Austin through Indigo Ag’s Terraton Challenge. Plant Group is a fellow semi-finalist and alumni.

Hemp has the promise of being a twofer: a financially successful crop as well as a carbon crop that increases soil carbon for carbon credits and increased fertility. Austin used microBIOMETER® to evaluate two organic fertilizer regimens for a hemp crop; an early fertilization during the vegetative phase and a month later during the flowering phase.

Honeysuckle Hemp 2021: Research Notes

One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb up to 22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare. The fact that industrial hemp has been proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop makes it an ideal tool for carbon farming (Vosper, 2011). 

Two acres were hand seeded with Maya hemp grain on 05/23/21 in a silt clay loam soil in Council Bluffs, IA. Prior to tilling (with a rear tine tiller) and seeding with hemp the area was covered with white clover. The area was split into two zones that each received organic fertilizer at different times. The Early Fertilizer Zone was fertilized on 07/25/21. The Late Fertilizer Zone was fertilized on 08/08/21. Mega Green (2-3-2), the organic fertilizer applied for the study is derived from squid waste and was diluted with water for application across the field.

The microBIOMETER® spectroscopic tool was used to estimate microbial biomass carbon and fungal to bacterial ratio. Microbial biomass carbon is a measure of the carbon ( C ) contained within the living component of soil organic matter (i.e. bacteria and fungi). Microbes decompose soil organic matter (SOM) releasing carbon dioxide and plant available nutrients. The measurement unit of the device is ug C / g (micrograms microbial biomass carbon). Click here to read full study.

 

microBIOMETER® at Penn State University.

Left: “Intensive” section. Right: “Extensive” section

We began offering microBIOMETER® Academia Classroom Kits  last year and are excited with the interest we have received so far from universities, high schools and other academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Professors are utilizing our soil test to introduce their students to the world of microbes and soil health.

Mary Ann Bruns, Professor of Soil Microbiology at Penn State University  recently shared how students in her Soil Ecology class used microBIOMETER® to analyze microbial biomass in the 10-year-old Green Roof Medium of the Forest Resources Building on campus.

Students took composite samples from the “intensive” section (where rooting medium was originally 12 inches in depth) and the adjacent “extensive” section (depth of 4 inches). Samples were taken next to the blue fescue plants in both sections.

Having a deeper layer of growth medium provides more water and nutrients for plants, so the hypothesis was that samples from intensive (healthier) areas would have higher MBC than those from extensive (dried out) areas. Average depths were 7.1 and 3.8 inches, respectively, in intensive and extensive areas. Average MBC for the two areas were 253 and 159 micrograms per gram medium, respectively. Click here to read the full report.

A special thank you to Mary Ann and her students for sharing their research, data and photos! If you would like to share your student’s microBIOMETER® research in our newsletter or learn more about our Academia Classroom Kits, please contact us.

From left to right: Penn State students Tyler Gryskevicz, Amanda Grube and Jason Ben Legayada.

Soil research using microBIOMETER®

In the spring and early summer of 2020, the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University conducted a soil survey of yield-stability based management zones on a New York dairy farm.

Ben Lehman, research assistant in the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell University, completed a study on the Within- Field Variability of Soil Characteristics and Corn Yield Stability on a New York Dairy Farm.

Ben utilized microBIOMETER® in his research to determine the microbial biomass of the soil samples.

This study was presented at the 2020 American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting.

Source: Cornell Center for Materials Research

microBIOMETER® collaborates with university soil study

Earthworms recover from Roundup exposure

The effect of various Roundup formulations and microplastics on soil.

Dr. Sharon Pochron and her students at Stonybrook University in New York have been using microBIOMETER® for two years. Dr. Pochron studies the effect of various Roundup formulations and microplastics on soil microbes and soil invertebrates.

Her most recent publication (See Figure 2) shows microbial biomass increasing on day 7 in both the Roundup treated and untreated soils – the 0 line depicts the microbial biomass on day 0. This increase is probably due to the soil microbes responding to rewetting. By day 14 the microbial biomass in the uncontaminated soil is back to baseline, but the Roundup treated soil has dropped well below baseline. By day 21 both soils have returned to baseline. This study shows only total microbial biomass recovery, but there is evidence that Roundup can affect microbial composition.

Source: Earthworms (Eisenia fetida) recover from Roundup® exposure. Pochron et al., 2021 Applied Soil Ecology. 158: 103793.

Prolific Earth Sciences is supporting research at various universities. Feel free to contact us to discuss your project and how we can assist.