Active soil life is good for plant growth and development as it makes nutrients available to the crop, produces humus and contributes to good soil structure. Additionally, when soil life is well developed, harmful fungi and bacteria multiply less rapidly. A rich and active soil life thus promotes the general disease resistance of the soil.
Soil life consists of a large number of different organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, mites, nematodes, pot worms and earthworms. You can't see micro-organisms in the soil with the naked eye so traditionally these have been measured and identified through a microscope - counting colony forming units.
Unique composition of cell walls
The Soil Life Monitor uses an internationally recognised method to identify different functional groups. The method is based on the analysis of fatty acids in the cell membranes of living micro-organisms, using gas chromatography.
This concerns phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA). Different groups of organisms have a different PLFA composition of their cell walls. In dead cells these fatty acids break down quickly, therefore, PLFAs only occur in living organisms. Knowing which PLFAs are present in a soil sample therefore provides information about both the amount of living biomass and which groups of micro-organisms are present in the soil. Worth noting, if you need to identify specific species, you would still require DNA analyses and plating methods - you can't identify specific species usign PLFA analyses.
Comparing soils and treatments
The Soil Life Monitor identifies functional groups of micro-organisms and provides a ‘fingerprint’ of the soil life that is present. The results of the analysis make it possible to compare different soils, to monitor them over time and to measure the effect of different treatments on soil life.
|Brochure Soil Life Monitor
|Soil Life Monitor example report