[permaculture] TESTS & EQUIPMENT required for a functional SUSTAINABLE AG LAB?

Alia Tsang alia at dietrick.org
Tue Mar 5 00:56:58 EST 2013

A spectrophotometer can be used for measuring stuff like inorganic N and P.
You would probably also be interested in a method of measuring potentially
mineralizable nitrogen, the N bound up in organic matter than can be
released by microbe activity. This quick summary of methods might be a good
starting point:
I've used the anaerobic incubation method -- after the incubation, you'd
analyze it with the spectrophotometer just like for the inorganic N. Not
sure what equipment you'd need for the other methods mentioned.

With the soil microorganisms, it depends on how precisely you want to
categorize what's there. On the one hand, you can use a microscope to look
at the broad groups of organisms (Elaine Ingham's method). This would
probably be more practical. You can also use microscopy to quantify
mycorrhizal colonization (there's a vinegar and ink method for staining I
heard about recently, cheaper and less cancer than the old standard for
staining roots). I think you might need two different types of microscopes,
though. On the other hand, genetic sequencing is getting cheaper and
cheaper and can give you a lot of interesting detailed information. But, if
you're partnered with a university, they probably have some of that
equipment. I think for identification of the substances the microorganisms
are creating, you'd use gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).


On Sun, Mar 3, 2013 at 7:14 PM, Douglas Hinds <cedecor at gmx.net> wrote:

> On 03/03/2013 03:25 PM, Chris Carnevale wrote:
> > Hi Douglas,
> >
> > I'm not sure about what kind of equipment you would need, but certainly
> > soil testing would be important.
> Particularly to quantify the presence of nutritional elements and the
> microorganisms that constitute the soil food web.
> I would also like to be able to identify the substances being created by
> those organisms, the activity of each substance and define the
> conditions required for the production of same.

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