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SOIL SECRETS. Pattern Ag sequences DNA from the soil biology in its clients’ fields to understand what pathogens exist in the soil and predict what diseases and pests will cause problems for farmers in the coming year. Image: Julia Gerlach/No -Till Farmer 

Deep-Dive Microbe Soil Testing Improves Farm Returns

Consultant-based testing facility enables no-tillers growing corn & soybeans to make informed choices in combatting soil-borne pathogens by sequencing DNA of entire microbial population of topsoil.

If you’ve ever wished for a crystal ball as you penciled in plans for soil-borne pathogens in corn and soybeans for the coming season, a relatively new California-based company supporting crop consultants in the Corn Belt and Mississippi Delta can take some of the guesswork out of that process — and likely save you some money.

Pattern Ag, based in Emeryville, Calif., specializes in cataloging and identifying soil-dwelling organisms in more than half a million acres of farm fields from the Dakotas south to Kansas and across the Corn Belt to Ohio. The company just released its free, public 2023 Predictive Ag Report that highlights areas of concern for various corn and soybean pests for the coming year. 

Pattern Ag has published similar pathogen-related outlooks for the area since 2019, but the 2022 and 2023 editions are the first publications released after company researchers and statisticians were convinced their testing and predictive protocols were reliable and took their services commercial.

While the public report outlooks are based on grower samples, individual farm records and recommendations remain confidential and are available only to the farmers and their crop consultants, says Mike Tweedy, Pattern Ag’s vice president of sales. 

“I like to call the report the Farmer’s Almanac of what to expect after planting this season,” he says, noting the data behind the report is provably more scientific than that of the highly popular rural publication. “We look inside the soil biology of our farmer-clients’ fields using sophisticated DNA sequencing techniques to…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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