Soil Microbiome Profiling Promotes Better Crop Decisions

Fifteen grams of soil can profile a microbiome profile using DNA sequencing for better crop decisions.
Fifteen grams of soil can profile a microbiome profile using DNA sequencing for better crop decisions. Think of it as a genetic test just like the check swab of 23 and Me and other DNA kits but for your soil.

Launched 3.5 years ago and with most of their experience in high value specialty crops, Trace Genomics is pioneering a soil test technology to accurately assess agronomic potential and risks before the growing season begins.

“Our product is a combination of genomics, microbiology, and machine learning,” explains Poornima Parameswaran, president and co-founder of Trace Genomics, which is a scalable soil microbiome testing tech company.

The company uses those three technologies to take a soil sample and then deliver a report showing soil health characteristics and potential agronomic risks. As described by its leaders, the company is digitizing the soil’s bacteria and fungi populations to then better inform planting, scouting, fertilizer, and crop protection decisions.

“We started in strawberry and lettuce production,” Parameswaran says. “And for example, in lettuce we can identify more than 10 leaf pathogens and diseases to help inform farmers what variety to plant. This also can help the farmer budget, before the season begins, for crop protection applications based on the risk level.”

The company also has experience in potatoes, apples, and other specialty crops. By 2020, the company aims to expand with experience in row crops. In soybeans, the company aims to better assess the risks and improve management for sudden death syndrome in soybeans.

For retailers, she says the report can help them position products.  

“Our soil health profile gives retailers the ability to better show value for products to their growers, and one particular example is biologicals,” Parameswaran says.

The sample procedure is compatible with grid or zone management. Each sample is 15 grams of soil, which is collected in a barcoded tube.

“Genomic technology is powerful because every test looks at everything in the soil,” Parameswaran says. “And emerging pathogens can be added to the panel easily.”

Right now, the company has a two-tiered pricing structure based on per acre tested and type of crop.

Watch a video overview of Trace Genomics here:

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