NM Grower wrote:
Having just completed a 2.5 day training with Elaine Ingham, I can envision quite a few ways to use a microscope for permaculture.
- direct counts from a soil sample of bacteria, protozoa, and fungi
- assessing if the soil microbiology is appropriate for the crops you are trying to grow
- testing the quality of compost
- verifying the aerated compost tea you just created is fungally dominated, bacterially dominated, or full of anaerobic pathogens
- verifying the beneficial nematodes you just bought are actually present and alive
- verifying your "microbial inoculants" such as Effective Microorganisms(tm) are actually present and alive
- assessing the trends in soil biology over time
Hope these are good ideas and could probably be its own thread. But, to do all this, you need to be able to identify what you are seeing in the slide. I haven't some across a lot of good freely available materials on the web that helps to ID all the microbes.
Dr Ingham recommended a trinocular microscope with a condenser for all the above work. Without the camera, the price is the same as LFL's choice.
And she suggested calling them and asking that they change out the 100x objective for a 40x, since the 100x is never used for the above work. And the 100x is so long that you stand a chance of smashing it into a slide accidentally anyway.
Her camera suggestion was Celestron #44421, priced about US$40.
Observing the macro flora and fauna is good, and understanding the soil microbiology certainly has its place in permaculture too.