California startup releases pathogen testing kit for soil


Trace Genomics, a startup company based in San Francisco, has released a soil testing kit that will help to diagnose pathogens that may be found in soil. For it’s debut, the pathogen panel can only identify diseases that affect strawberries and lettuce, but in the coming months, the company hopes to expand the testing to new crops.

“We’ve been hard at work for the past year, working with our pilot customers to validate our test and instill quality control measures to provide the most reliable, consistent, and quantitative microbiome test on the market, surfacing actionable insights in an easily interpretable report,” the company said when it announced the new test. “We are using cloud computing and scalable infrastructure to ensure that we can interpret each sample in under three weeks.”

Healthy soils, made up of a complex ecosystem of microbes, yield healthy crops. The company said it spoke to hundreds of growers of fruits, vegetables and orchards to pin-point the struggles they have in combating soil-borne diseases. The hope is that by helping to identify problem aspects of soil, Trace Genomics will be giving farmers the tools to make more informed decisions about tilling methods, pesticide and fertilizer treatments, cover-cropping, and rotational techniques.

The website Tech Crunch reported that Trace Genomics will charge $199 per test, with bulk discounts available for customers.


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