Dr Prafull Gadge develops Soilometer, an innovative tool for testing and monitoring soil health

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Pune, 26th May 2023: Biome Technologies founder and innovator Dr Prafull Gadge has developed ‘Soilometer’, a device for testing and monitoring soil health within just three hours, at a cost of only Rs 310 and at the farm itself. This device is helping save time and money for farmers who otherwise would have to send soil samples to testing laboratories and wait at least three days for the results. Soilometer was launched at the hands of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in February 2023 at the Chaudhary Charan Singh National Institute of Agricultural Marketing.

Dr Prafull Gadge has been developing products and services for farmers, and serving as a consultant to various state governments, national and international companies. Dr Gadge said, “Having started my research career in 2007, I have worked in esteemed research institutions such as the Agharkar Research Institute, Savitribai Phule Pune University, and Department of Biochemistry at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Aurangabad. I had started working with Dr Manvendra Kachole, who was in the thinktank of and technology advisor to Sharad Joshi, founder of Shetkari Sanghatna, since 2010.”

Dr. Gadge emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to address the complex challenges faced by farmers, stating, “We realized that merely providing solutions would not be sufficient. Therefore, we conducted surveys to identify the underlying issues. The results revealed a lack of knowledge and an exploitative cycle that entrapped farmers in an endless spiral of debt. As farmers borrowed money from private lenders, they found themselves caught in a vicious cycle of increasing interest rates and mounting debts. Furthermore, most farmers lacked knowledge about the chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides they were using, leading to excessive costs and reduced profitability.”

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we aimed to establish connections with farmers, facilitating their access to agricultural kits available in the market. Our goal was to bridge the gap between farmers and the latest advancements in the agricultural industry, empowering them to overcome the evolving challenges of the post-pandemic era. We soon realized that farmers were unwittingly compelled to use excessive amounts of fertilizers and pesticides. It became evident to me that the work I aspired to do could not be confined within four walls. Consequently, I decided to set up a laboratory in my ancestral home in Kedgaon, Nagar district, to conduct extensive research. Leveraging my Ph.D. in Biochemistry, specializing in proteomics of plant-pest interaction, my objective was to develop innovative, eco-friendly solutions that would empower farmers and break the cycle of debt and despair,” explained Dr. Gadge.

“We offer farmers advisory services and guidance for assessing soil health. Our kit enables independent evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides, and other inputs. It is crucial to assess the quality and suitability of microbial fertilizers, organic pesticides, or any other inputs before utilizing or purchasing them. This assessment assists farmers in determining future timing and cost-effectiveness, which is vital for their operations. Our aim is to establish dedicated laboratories on farms for soil quality assessment. Through these kits, farmers can conduct their own tests on soil fertility and vitality. It is only after understanding the effectiveness of these inputs that farmers can make informed decisions about adopting them in the future,” emphasized Dr. Gadge.

“Biome Technologies is incubated at the National Institute of Agricultural Marketing. Our concept was selected among the top ten agricultural innovation ideas in the country during an event organised by NABARD. There are some companies that manufacture biofertilizers and biopesticides, and we are reviewing them. They can showcase the effectiveness of their products through our kit to farmers. We have sold more than 4500 kits and delivered some kits to Gujarat, while discussions have started with the authorities in Meghalaya state. Training is being conducted for residue-free farming and our kit will promote soil testing for organic farming as a mechanism. Our patent applications are also in progress, said Dr Gadge.