I had lost all sense of direction. No longer could I tell where north was, where I parked the car, or even where my partner went. Each step forward brought me deeper into this jungle. Leaves smashing into my face, scratching up my arms, pollen flying everywhere. And how could I forget the 7 cobwebs I walked into?
I had lost all sense of direction. No longer could I tell where north was, where I parked the car, or even where my partner went. Each step forward brought me deeper into this jungle. Leaves smashing into my face, scratching up my arms, pollen flying everywhere. And how could I forget the 7 cobwebs I walked into? Ten paces more and it still looks the same. Where was this alley I was supposed to find? The map in my hand had been rendered useless. I needed a sign, something, anything that would help find what I was looking for. I fell to my knees and began to crawl on the ground, looking for any signs of human existence, hoping something would stick out amongst the various shades of green and brown. Nothing! It was at this point I began to lose hope. Suddenly I heard a soft sound in the distance. I began to hurry towards it, pushing everything aside as I was trying to get out of this maize. The sounds grew louder with my excitement. It was my partner, he had found it! OUR PLOT!
We had been searching this particular corn field for almost an hour, moving through rows, trying to find our way to this specific variety plot. It was at this plot he finally was able to collect our treasure: soil samples. Now knowing where we were, we easily made our way out of the field, back to the car, and onto the next soil sampling adventure.
Four days straight and 1,225 miles later, we made our way across the upper Midwest, passing through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota, collecting soil samples from various corn and soybean fields. Staying at the same hotel chain each night, we can give you a breakdown of which has the best breakfast, the nicest bartenders, and the cleanest rooms.
It’s sampling trips like these that help supply AgBiome with new sources of microbes to add to our collection. From each soil sample, we isolate individual bacterial strains to be sequenced and stored. These strains will eventually be screened for activity against a range of agriculturally-important pests and pathogens to produce some of the most innovative crop-protection products on the market.
Pictured: (L) Jared Jenson with colleague, Jake Trimble, navigating to the field plot for sampling (R).