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Soil Startup

An agricultural technology startup is analyzing customers' soil to ascertain what microbes are present there, Forbes reports.

Such information can play into farmers' decisions on what to grow in different fields. "Knowing the information around the healthy, beneficial and the pathogenic microbes are critical to being able to inform those decisions," Trace Genomics cofounder Diane Wu tells Forbes.

So far, Trace Genomics says it has analyzed more than 10,000 different soil samples, including ones from the fields of large growers like the strawberry producer Driscoll. Producers, co-founder Poornima Parameswaran says, are typically interested in learning why certain fields are low producing and whether they will be receptive to treatments they are planning on using or varietals they are going to plant.

 Wu adds that they've also been able to use their approach to develop a diagnostic test for the lettuce disease Fusarium wilt, which has been affecting growers in Yuma and Salinas. "And there was no test on the market to really specifically test for that disease," she says. "This year, we were able to launch the first diagnostic for that disease to help them assess the disease's pressures on their field."