Thursday Oct 20, 2022

Tractor Time Episode #68: Dr. James White, Jeff Lowenfels & Laura Decker on Soil Microbiology

On today’s episode of Acres U.S.A's Tractor Time sponsored by microBIOMETER, we’re going to live under the soil. We want to invite you too. Imagine a world where you could peek under your crops and see and hear what is going on. Where you could look into your flowerpot on your windowsill and see a whole universe of life. What you’d see would not only resemble Times Square, but Times Square Times Times Square times Times Square … or something like that. The cycle of life and the intelligence of nature is fully, and beautifully, at work.

We are joined today by Laura Decker, the owner and operator of microBIOMETER, Dr. James White, a professor of plant biology at Rutgers, and Jeff Lowenfels, the author of several books, including a new one, Teaming with Bacteria. In our conversation, you will hear us try to establish why microbiology is an important topic for all farmers and ranchers today, and then go deep into what we know. How nutrients are brought to plants. How water can be stored. How nature resists some technology we are trying to force into it today. In the end, you’ll hear Jeff Lowenfels compare mycorrhizal fungi to the free love concept, we (unofficially) nominate Dr. James White for a Nobel Peace Prize, and Laura Decker talks about the future.

Lowenfels is the author of the latest book, Teaming with Bacteria. You can find it, and all of his books, at His entire collection is 30% off right now. Shop here"

Dr. White will be speaking in December at the Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show in Covington, Kentucky. Laura Decker will be there too. So will I. We’ll see you there as well. You can register at


Improving the health of your soil is essential to increasing your output, but how can you tell if you are making progress? Research shows that microbial biomass — fungi and bacteria — is the leading indicator of soil health. Living soil fixes nutrients, improves plant immunity, stores water more efficiently and builds soil structure, therefore, a healthy level of microbes increases productivity while reducing inputs. There are more microbes in a handful of living soil than there are humans on this planet. We are just now starting to understand how vital the symbiosis is between plants and these microorganisms. 

microBIOMETER® is a low cost, fast, on-site soil test for microbial biomass and fungal to bacterial ratio that allows you to quickly determine the health of your soil.  Order direct at Frequent retesting provides you with the data necessary to assess your soil management practice.

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