Hello hello. Do we have any soil geeks coming?
I’m one of the organisers of Science Hack Day and the science hacking community in Berlin. I was once a molecular biologist but have been mainly organising and community building in recent years. However, I want to get my hands dirty again and I’m gradually working my way up to a potential new project around urban soils. I’m trying to learn about DIY soil testing, bioremediation, permaculture practices, and the politics of land-use. It’d be nice to do a bit of tinkering around soil ecology at the weekend (I’m there from Friday on) – @dusjagr said he’d be into the idea too .
Unfortunately I’m not so well prepared, but I’m going to use this thread to share a few ideas. Suggestions very welcome!
Soil respiration test: CO2 levels as a measure for microbial activity. Seems there are a bunch of different ways to measure CO2: absorption into NaOH then titration against HCl (eg p51 in this doc), various kinds of strips you can buy, arduino-compatible sensors that are either super cheap (MQ135 €6) or fairly pricey (€70). Anyone got any tips?
Culturing soil bacteria: seems you really only culture less than 1% of the diversity of what’s there, but it’d still be interesting to get some pretty plates.
I can bring some nice lactobacillus culture for bokashi composting with me if anyone would like some, and also share how you do it – perfect for guerilla composting