This DNA Test Can Tell the Future of Your Soil

Read Time: 3 minutes
September 6, 2023
Natalie McCracken
Head of Marketing, Pattern Ag

There’s something in your soil that could spell trouble for next season. But there is good news, we can help. At Pattern Ag, we firmly believe we have discovered an advancement in understanding your soil. Think of this as a whole new way of managing crop protection and fertility.

If the standard soil sample is listening to a song on the radio, then soil biology is a live concert in your living room.

Deeper Than NPK

At Pattern Ag, we’re not replacing Nitrogen level soil tests. We’re going well beyond that. We take a sample of your soil and run tests to find genetic evidence of the microscopic signatures (or DNA) of potential disease or insects. This gives you a much richer and reliable understanding of potential threats hiding away in your ground.

Genes Don’t Lie

Using technical advancements in computing that have been used to analyze human DNA (think of the genealogy/ancestry services), we’re harnessing this similar technology to detect insects, disease and the fertility of your soil with 90% certainty. How do we deliver this level of precision? It’s a complicated process with a simple principle: we diagnose the problem with DNA evidence of a blight, bug or biofertility issue.

Go From Too Late to Miles Ahead

Applying fungicide to your fields can feel like a guessing game. It’s an educated guess, but a guess nonetheless. But what other option do you have? As a farmer, you know the cost of waiting until your crop exhibits signs of disease. On the other hand, it’s hard to see the results when you spray for prevention. It’s natural to wonder if you’re wasting your money.

You don’t need to manage disease in the dark. By understanding the precise biology of your soil, you can detect the presence of specific disease threats. More importantly, you’ll know exactly which pathogens are high or low risk. Then, you can take that information and decide to apply more or less, or in some cases, nothing at all. You could also use these learnings to tailor your entire program to only the diseases detected in the soil. Why fight something that’s not there or not a threat?

Move From Spray-and-Pray to Exactly Enough

Just as high-resolution imaging assists in precise medical interventions, Pattern Ag empowers farmers to scrutinize every input. By understanding the intricate biology within the soil, farmers can focus on the nutrients that are already in the ground. This means testing your soil for important fungi and other microbes that can convert nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium into more usable forms for your crops. It’s a different way of looking at fertility, but we’ve found it can be more cost-effective and yield better results when you have a deep understanding of your soil’s biology.

Get From Pretty Sure to Beyond a Doubt

Selecting seed is a balance between what has happened in the past, and what’s likely to occur. Your soil biology can confirm if a specific trait is overkill or just what you need. For example, let’s say you’ve planted hybrids with corn rootworm resistance for years. We feel it’s wise to verify that rootworm is still present in your fields. Our in-depth analysis could reveal that a certain pest or disease is either absent or at a manageable level. Make sure you’re buying a trait out of a current need, not an old habit. Either way, it’s good news. All this information ensures you invest only in the best seed for your fields.

The FieldView™ Partnership

As a FieldView Platform Partner, a current user can easily get started with Pattern Ag today. Field boundaries and historical data are readily available and already outlined in FieldView. This gives you a head start to unlock the full potential of Pattern Ag’s high-resolution soil imaging. This is yet another way that FieldView and platform partners like Pattern Ag, can take advantage of an entire ecosystem of digital farming products. This collaborative approach fosters innovation and continuous improvement throughout the world of ag tech. Together, we can promote digital tools that are connected in a way that makes them easier to use, more valuable and builds upon each other’s advancements.

If you’d like to learn more about the partnership between Pattern Ag and FieldView, watch this recent presentation from our VP of Data Science and VP of Sales.

About the Author

Natalie McCracken has been on the Pattern Ag team since 2021 and was brought on board to lead marketing and communications for the company. Before her role with Pattern Ag, Natalie was an account director at SAGE, an advertising and PR agency focused on agriculture and animal health, where she led teams for accounts including John Deere, NovaSource, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, and the Cardiac Education Group.