Microbial Analysis for Growers-PreLaunch
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Microbial Analysis for Growers-PreLaunch

How to Monitor Soil and Compost Microbes to Ensure Robust Plant Production
4.0 (3 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
10 students enrolled
Created by Dr. Mary Lucero
Last updated 9/2017
Current price: $99 Original price: $140 Discount: 29% off
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Assignments
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • -why microbial interactions are fundamental to plant health and nutrition.
  • -how to select and use an appropriate microscope and other lab equipment.
  • -how to collect and prepare informative soil samples.
  • -how to classify microbes into appropriate taxonomic kingdoms based on morphology.
  • -how to analyze the microbial diversity, density (abundance) and respiration rate of soil, compost, and compost tea samples.
  • -how to measure soil respiration
  • -how to use testing results to guide crop management decisions.
View Curriculum
  • Basic biology.
  • Experience growing plants.
  • Note: A basic lab setup that includes a compound microscope (up to 400X magnification) and other basic tools will be necessary for carrying out the analysis. One course module will provide the information you need to choose suitable equipment. You do not need the equipment to complete the class. However, you will not become proficient in microbial analysis without hands on experience.

Growers, is your soil or compost part of a healthy microbial food web?  Is it supporting plant nutrition, storing water, building resistance to pests and disease, and producing high crop yields with minimal inputs?

Soils that support complex microbial food webs also house the air, water, and nutrients plants need to grow well.  Microbial Analysis for Growers teaches participants why healthy microbial communities are critical for plant production at any scale. Learn:

  1. When and why it makes sense to analyze their own soil biology.
  2. How to select and use necessary equipment.
  3. How to classify and identify key microbial types.
  4. How to keep records that can guide crop management decisions.  
  5. How to measure soil respiration rates. 

Note:  All the equipment needed to conduct routine soil biodiversity analysis will be described within. It is not necessary to have the equipment on hand to take the course.  

This prelaunch version of the course will begin with the units that are completed and uploaded as of August 10, 2017.  7 other units have been recorded, and they will be uploaded as soon as editing is complete.  Participants that purchase the Pre-launch course will have full access to the final version.  The benefits of joining during pre-launch include:

  • Early access to content.
  • More personal interaction with the instructor and with members of a smaller class.
Who is the target audience?
  • Growers (farmers, nursery growers, greenhouse growers, gardeners, turfgrass managers).
  • Grower educators (master gardeners, extension agents, crop consultants, teachers...).
Curriculum For This Course
12 Lectures
1 Lecture 04:35

Here is a brief introduction to what we will cover in the units ahead.

Preview 04:35
Video Units 1-8
10 Lectures 01:52:21

How did we do?  Answer these five questions to see how clearly my message is getting across!  Don't know the answer?  Replay the video as often as you like.

Unit 1 Quiz
3 questions

Unit 1-Why Microbes Matter, part B

Quiz for Unit 1, Part B

Unit 1-Why Microbes Matter, part B
1 question

After completing this section, you will be able to discuss both the benefits and the limitations of a Microbial Density and Diversity Analysis.

Unit 2-Why Perform a Microbial Density and Diversity (MDD) Analysis?

Unit 2 Quiz

Unit 2-Why Perform a Microbial Density and Diversity (MDD) Analysis?
3 questions

Unit 3-Choosing Microscopes and Other Equipment

Unit 3-Choosing Microscopes and Other Equipment, Part A
3 questions

Unit 3 Part B-Choosing your Microscope.

Unit 3 Part B Quiz-Microscope Features You Need to Succeed
2 questions

In Unit 4 you will learn how to collect soil, compost, and compost tea samples that provide meaningful insights into the structure and function of associated microbial communities.  Sample storage will also be discussed. 

Unit 4-Taking Informative Samples

Unit 4 Quiz-Taking Informative Samples
3 questions

In Unit 5 you will learn how to extract microbes from your soil sample, prepare a wet mount for analysis, and examine your slide under the microscope.

Unit 5-Sample Preparation Protocol

Unit 5 Quiz-Sample Preparation Protocol
4 questions

In the previous five units, we have discussed how microbes can influence plant production, why microbial analysis can help guide management, the what tools you need to analyze microbes at home, how to collect and prepare your soil samples, and how to examine them under the microscope.   

In unit six, we step back for a moment to look more deeply at the functions of microbial communities within various niches (plant surface, soil crust, rhizosphere, etc.) of the plant ecosystem.  While this particular unit is more theoretical than applied, it is important to appreciate microbial community interactions before the value of having diverse representatives from the kingdoms we will examine in unit 7 become clear. 

Unit 6-Classification of Microbial Communities

Unit 6 Quiz-Classification of Microbial Communities
3 questions

Unit 7-Microbial Kingdoms You Want In Your Soil, Part A.

Taxonomists are scientists that strive to classify living things based on similarities and differences.  Because life and science are both constantly evolving, taxonomy has been changing ever since Carl Linnaeus proposed the binomial nomenclature system.  

In recent decades, the hierarchy of Domain has been placed above Kingdoms, and we have seen three Kingdoms divide into six.  These changes are driven by new technologies that permit classification based on DNA sequence differences. 

In Unit 7A, you reviewed contemporary Domain and Kingdom classifications.   We also discussed differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells.  Please answer the questions below to evaluate your understanding of the characteristics that define these categories.

Unit 7 Subunit A-An Overview of Biotic Kingdoms and Domains
4 questions

One feature that helps you distinguish a deer from an elk, or a wolf from a fox, is the size.  In the same manner, size is one of many characteristics you can use to distinguish among different kinds of microbes.  

An optical reticle is strongly recommended, for ensuring more accurate measurements. Before you can use your reticle, you must calibrate each your objectives using an optical micrometer. In this unit, we will show you how that is done. 

As you determine the distance represented by each unit in your reticle write this value on a label you can attach to your microscope. This will help you remember the value as you begin analyzing soil samples.  

Because your reticle remains the same even as you switch objectives, you will need to calculate a unique value for each objective on your microscope. 

Many microscope dealers offer excellent training on how to calibrate your objectives.  Links to some of these additional resources are included.   

Unit 7 Subunit B-Measuring Microbes

     The questions below will assess your understanding of how to calibrate your eyepiece reticle against your objective micrometer so that use your reticle to measure the microbes you observe under the microscope.

Unit 7B Quiz-Measuring Microbes
3 questions
Section 4-Measuring Soil Respiration
1 Lecture 11:19

Did you know soil breathes?  Okay, it doesn't exactly inhale and exhale like you and I do.  But the cellular respiration processes that convert sugars to carbon dioxide (CO2) are as essential to soil creatures as they are to you and I.  This means soil microbes are constantly releasing CO2, kind of like you release CO2 when we breath. The amount of CO2 the soil releases can  be used as a vital sign of sorts.  If you stopped exhaling and releasing CO2, that would not be a good sign.  The same is true for your soil.  High levels of CO2 production suggest more healthy microbial cells are thriving in your soil. 

In this unit, you will learn how to measure the amount of CO2 your soil produces with a do it yourself kit. 

Unit 9-Measuring Soil Respiration

Unit 9-Measuring Soil Respiration
4 questions
About the Instructor
Dr. Mary Lucero
4.0 Average rating
3 Reviews
10 Students
1 Course
Systems Biologist at End-O-Fite Enterprises LLC

    Dr. Mary Lucero spent thirty years in research, examining plant and microbial interactions in complex agricultural ecosystems.  Her conclusions that microbial communities drive all living systems offer transformational insights growers can use to accelerate crop production, reduce the need for agrochemicals, and develop cultural practices that restore soil, conserve water, and repair damaged ecosystems.