Microscope and microscope

All this talk about microbes in soil has got me thinking about getting a microscope.
Can anyone recommend

  1. A microscope, and
  2. How to access the information and techniques to analyse soil?
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Nikon or Olympus. You’ll need to reach out to Ian and ask how they collect and prep the soil samples.
It sounds like they’re using phase contrast or dark field microscopy which will add up to the cost of the microscope. There’s maintenance involved for the scope too if you are not aware of it.
There is a microscope at costco online. $199.99 I think.

Good luck!

This will get you started for selecting a microscope for soil, compost, and compost tea quality assessment.


Do a search for “sustainable studies microscope ingham” and you’ll find more videos on microscope set up and soil sampling.

Living Web Farms has a five-part series on assessing soil health using a microscope. Here’s part one.

Assessing Soil Health Part 1

Parts of it are a snooze but you’ll see what looking at samples is like.

Microbe Organics has lots of videos of compost tea. The thing to remember about his teas is that he uses molasses and that means his bacterial count is high in relation to fungal hyphae. Some of what he calls fungal hyphae look like actinobacteria to me, which are signs of being anaerobic. He has lots of naked amoeba and our samples for bonsai should have more testate amoeba, which would indicate more fungal soil, compost and tea. His interest is in growing pot rather than trees and shrubs. His site is not user friendly but has a lot of info, some of which may not be scientifically sound.

Microbe Organics

If you’re still interested in getting a microscope, I have more info on compost microscopy.

That’s brilliant @Ace
Thanks for your help

There are several used LAB supply sales websites. I have purchased things there. Buyer beware, dont over pay… probably only need a 400x scope, a light, and some staining materials. White light source, not LED. (The colors are not natural)
Glass slides and coverslips, simple bacterial stains, latex gloves @ Amazon… maybe a digital microscope compatible camera for show and tell. Safety glasses…
Warning: don’t do this in your kitchen… the stains are perminant.
Your definitly headed down that rabbit hole… Read up on microbe morphology and Identification; and, definitly read up on soil / water pathogenic bacteria. I don’t know where to begin on soil insects… just dive in! (A 10x eye loop would be sufficient here.) Soil fungii morphology. Maybe skim soil virology just for fun. (Take some classes and get a degree on the way…!)
Keep a consise diary! (Lab notebook), your findings might be publishable, even if only important to bonsai.
@AndyK …what do you do for a living?

Hi @KurtP
I run an industrial rope access company. Working at height on ropes