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How microbiome analysis works and what impacts

Microbiome analysis makes it possible to identify factors that affect soil productivity.

On a farm in the Brazilian countryside, the owners and their technicians were intrigued by the behavior of the soil. The data collected in the traditional studies indicated the availability of a lot of phosphorus in the field. Despite this, the evaluation pointed to symptoms of deficiency in the plants. A truly unexpected result and contrary to all the evaluations carried out.

The microbiome analysis.

The answer to the problem that worried agricultural producers was found by microbiome analysis. It's a type of biological soil assessment in which the microbiota, the set of microorganisms that live in the ground, especially bacteria and fungi, is evaluated. The use of the innovative technique makes it possible to determine both the species present and the functions they perform.

The analysis made it possible to understand the problem that affected productivity.

It wasn't a matter of putting more or less matches. Responsible for analyzing the microbiome, Marcus Adonai, a partner at Biome4All Agriculture, found that the phosphorus in the evaluated soil was in a form that plants cannot absorb.

Lack of microorganisms

The soil did not have the microorganisms responsible for making phosphorus available to plants. Therefore, the biological component was unknown, its impact was not known. “We realized what was missing in the soil: a biological attribute to complete the process of making phosphorus available”, says Marcus.

In the absence of this information, people might think that phosphorus was missing, which was actually present. It was possible to make the appropriate correction. Another practical action to solve the deficiency problem observed in the plant.

What are the impacts on agriculture?

Microbiome analysis helps with several important processes. For example, in fertility, which depends on microorganisms. Another example, several microorganisms can be harmful to a particular culture. So, the analysis of what is present makes it possible to identify the bad microorganisms. Another example, there are many beneficial organisms that fight pests.

The microbiome analysis reveals bad components, but also those that are beneficial and that could fight the pests that cause damage to the plants.

Information to increase productivity

If not, the producer will no longer have information about one of the three pillars that support the soil:

  • the physical environment

  • the chemistry and

  • the biology

Without attention to the biology of the soil, the producer will not understand a part of the process, which influences, for example, the productivity of a crop, the suppressiveness of that place for diseases, etc.

The microbiome process

Microbiome analysis starts with collecting a soil sample, a very simple process, similar to other types of collections. This sample is sent to a laboratory for DNA sequencing. Once sequenced, it is decoded to identify the species present, genera and taxonomic groups.

From this identification, it is possible to know the benefits or harms present in the soil. Finally, artificial intelligence comes in to interpret the information collected. And relate the various taxonomic functional databases that underlie the analysis.

How are the reports

The report makes it possible to be more assertive in practical actions. When we don't look at a type of information, it becomes a black box, decisions are made without adequate knowledge. Attention to soil biology allows for increased accuracy. Thinking about pesticide applications, as a traditional example. If we don't know exactly what the soil problems are, then we make generic applications and often spend much more. Now, if you know exactly what the threats are, you can be more specific, sustainable, efficient and better target management actions.

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