Evaluating the usefulness and accuracy of the soil microbiometer® as a tool for extension and research in resource-constrained countries

Presley Nickens, David Ader, Forbes Walker


Resource-constrained areas are often plagued with soil degradation, resource scarcity, and weak institutional support, yet these areas lack access to the research tools needed for soil testing that would combat declining soil fertility and yields. Thus, there is a need for in-situ research and extension tools in resource-constrained communities. A potential tool to address this need is the microBIOMETER®. The soil microBIOMETER® is an inexpensive, rapid, on-site test that estimates the microbial biomass of a soil sample. The purpose of this research was to test the usefulness of the soil microBIOMETER® as a tool for research and extension in resource-constrained areas. In June 2023, a team of researchers on a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignment performed several tests and educational trainings in Cambodia using the soil microBIOMETER®. Researchers tested the replicability of the tool by using two different phones (iPhone and Android) to analyze the microbial biomass in two plots. The microBIOMETER® was also used in educational demonstrations at the high school and collegiate levels to evaluate its suitability in an educational setting. There was not a statistically significant difference between the results of the two phones being used to measure microbial biomass, despite differing data being reported by each test. Thus, we suggest the microBIOMETER® is a replicable method for research. Based on our experience using the tool in an educational setting, we propose the microBIOMETER® is best suited for an environment where a rapid, easy, hands-on tool is needed to visually demonstrate the impact of soil management on soil biological activity. The best uses of the microBIOMETER® may be in high school experiments, farmer field days, extension activities, and introductory lessons for undergraduate students.


Resource-constrained areas; microBIOMETER®; Soil health; Extension


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DOI: 10.33687/ijae.012.001.4899


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