New soil test looks at microbial populations

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A&L Canada Laboratories Inc. recently launched VitTellus Bio, a new soil health test that quantifies soil microbial populations.

VitTellus Bio complements the VitTellus Soil Health test, which is used to help farmers make informed decisions on application of nutrient and managing and improving soil health.

It does more than measure the chemical properties of soil, aiming to provide deeper information about physical and biological interaction in the soil.

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The VitTellus Bio test looks more closely at soil microbial populations.

The test uses selective carbon sources to measure the concentration of specific functional microbial groups within a soil sample. Research has shown that certain carbon sources have known beneficial functionality, such as for nitrogen fixation. Optimal ranges of these functional microbes are provided and, along with the soil chemistry metrics, will allow the user to implement farm management strategies to increase favourable soil microbe populations.

“This analysis allows clients to understand their current soil microbial populations and take concrete actions to cultivate microbes which support healthier soils, stronger plants and greater returns for the farmer, and society,” says Greg Patterson, CCA, Founder and CEO of A&L. “This is a worthwhile, long-view endeavour. We strongly encourage farmers to truly get to know their soils for their longstanding success.”

Farmers involved in ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) projects will have greater funding from a new investment in the program.

Silk, the plant-based drink company, has committed $100,00 to ALUS’s New Acre Project.

The funds will help farmers in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec to use their land in a way that qualifies as ecosystem services under ALUS.

Farmers who work with ALUS are funded to maintain and create zones on their farm that grow plants other than crops and encourage biodiversity by providing new habitat.

“As supply chains face unprecedented pressures, it is more important than ever that Canada’s farmers have the necessary tools to provide healthy food to feed our families,” said Geneviève Bolduc, director Plant-Based Category at Danone.

“At the same time, Silk’s involvement in the New Acre Project advances our ongoing mission to support local communities and promote sustainable local practices, such as water conservation and helping pollinators, through our existing drought-resistant plants project.”

The funding will help manage and restore 90 acres of farmland in seven communities over seven years.

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