Soil is home to millions of microorganisms, most of which are very important for healthy plant growth. Most of these microorganisms influence soil fertility and plant productivity through decomposition and nutrient recycling, but some, such as mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen fixing bacteria, directly interact with plants and promote their growth. Testing the quality and quantity of these important microorganisms is a very valuable option in optimizing plant growth. 

Soil Biology Tests: Our tests can be divided into two broad categories: A) Tests for clients interested in practical advice regarding interactions between plants and beneficial microbes, and interactions between plants and potential herbicide residues; and B) Tests oriented toward research applications. Organic and traditional growers would benefit from the former group of tests, and researchers may benefit from the second group of tests.
Tests for Organic and Traditional Growers:
    Mycorrhizal Association
Percent Colonization
Spore Count
MIP (Mycorrhizal Inoculum Potential) Bioassay
    Rhizobium Association
Nodules Count
    Plant Growth Response
Using Lepidium sp as a Bioindicator Plant
    Herbicide Detection
Using Lepidium sp as a Bioindicator Plant
    Weed estimation
Count Seedling Development per volume soil
Research Applications
    Respiration Test
Measure Carbon Dioxide Production
    Biomass Test
Estimate Carbon Conversion
Phosphatase Test
2 Field Surveys: Use Mycorrhizal Inoculum Potential Bioassay to estimate activity of mycorrhizal fungi in samples. Results will be available after one month of incubation. Fee will be variable with field conditions and size.
Training: Summer short course and workshop for large or small groups of organic farmers, scientists, researchers, students, or other interests that can be organized on University of Florida campus, online, or on your field. Training will include technical procedures for mycorrhizal inoculum manipulation and spores isolation. Also, training will include teachings to estimate mycorrhizal colonization and fungal identification. Registration fee per one person is $ 500 for training on campus or online and $ 1000 for training on your field.
Mycorrhizal Inoculum: If a client’s soil is low in MIP or is dominated by a mycorrhizal fungus inefficient for a particular plant, we can supply “soil inoculum” of AM fungal isolates. We have supplied inocula for private, commercial, and research applications. Requests for inocula should be submitted three months in advance. Price for “soil inoculum” is $ 25 per one pound (454 grams) of dry soil medium.

Facts and Instructions

Situations: Useful for soils that have poor nutrient contents, particularly those subjected to disturbance activities.

Sampling Time, Location, and Replications: We will analyze samples sent at any time of the year or during any stage of the growing season. Soil Biology Tests are sensitive to field environment, time of the year, and disturbance. Sampling is highly recommended after one or two months of lime, fertilizers, compose, or manure applications. It is always recommended NOT TO sample the border of the target areas to avoid “Border Effects” and NOT TO take samples from the same location. Samples can be collected with core or shovel from the upper 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). If interested in repeating Soil Biology Tests annually, it is recommended to collect samples at the same time of the year. To control cost, minimum one soil sample is recommended for every change in soil property (brown clay or grey sandy loam), every topography (hills or flats), or land use (pasture or cropping). If the field design involves many blocks and sections, divide the field in portions and sample each portion every year until satisfaction is achieved. A representative small volume (250 ml; approximately one cup) is required for each sample. Place each sample in separate plastic bag and secure contents to avoid sample contamination. With each sample, clear information is needed such as title, date, and the required Soil Biology Test.

Interpretations: Results will be based on "Active" rather than Total Biological Populations in the soil. Applications: Achieving proper soil balance required management programs that take in the consideration the main soil function components: available plant nutrients and optimal activity of soil biological communities. These soil managements should not be applied at the same time. First management program is to balance soil pH by applying the appropriate amounts of lime recommended by Soil Chemistry Tests. Second and after six month of recalibration period, fertilizers should be applied according to Soil Chemistry Test recommendation. Third and after one to two month of maturation, “Soil Mycorrhizal Inoculum” as “phosphorus biofertilizers” or Rhizobium inoculation as “nitrogen biofertilizers” should be applied with seed before germination or with seedling before planting. Other Soil Biology Tests may act as indicators for soil contamination.

Shipping: Samples may be shipped in a cardboard box at room temperature. Ground shipment is acceptable if less than seven days. Ship samples to: Dr. Abid Al-Agely, 2169 McCarty Hall-A, Soil Microbiology, Gainesville, FL 32611

Fee: Tests can be ordered as comprehensive (10 procedures) or individual (one or more procedures). Charge per sample is $ 275 for the comprehensive or $ 35 for each individual test. 

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