By Alan Sundermeier, CCA, Ohio State University Extension and Vinayak Shedekar, postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University
A diverse and active pool of micro and macro organisms is essential for a healthy soil. While the soil biology plays a key role in building healthy soils, it can also provide nutrients to crops and naturally control some soil-borne pests and diseases. However, it is difficult to assess the soil biological properties in a lab compared to traditional chemical soil testing.
Identifying and quantifying different soil organisms requires a range of sophisticated methods and instruments that most soil labs do not have. However, some labs offer a PLFA test that serves as a very good indicator of soil microbial communities.
PLFA are Phospholipid fatty acids found in the membranes of all active organisms. Certain fatty acids are used to indicate the bacteria, fungi, or other types of microbes, so quantifying the fatty acid content in a soil sample can indicate the size of a specific microbial group as well as the size of the entire microbial biomass.… Continue readingRead More »