Scientists who study soil, especially in the world of agriculture say we know more about the ocean floor than we do about dirt a foot down.

  University of Idaho project will dig deeper than anyone

An Ecotron is a device and project that allows scientists to dig and drill down deep in the soil and obtain all sorts of samples. Soil study is crucial to growing and agriculture, and now the University of Idaho will go deeper than before.

  The school's $25 million dollar Ecotron project is nearly finished, and expected to become operational by 2026. It will allow scientists to probe down as far as ten feet in several dozen locations to learn more about the type of soil. This picture from U of I and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation shows one of the drill sites.

idaho Ecotron project (U of I-idaho Fam Buerau)
idaho Ecotron project (U of I-idaho Fam Buerau)



The dirt below the surface is teeming with microbes, chemicals, minerals, and other elements that can significantly affect agriculture.  There are 13 other Ecotron projects in the world, most of them in Europe, but none of them will go as deep as the one at U of I.

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Idaho researchers say most of the soil examination is done to a depth of about a foot, but not much further. Researchers say they expect to make a lot of new discoveries and ultimately find ways to improve soil conditions and help boost farming production.

The project is expected to go online at the beginning of 2026. (information from the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation as well as this image of one of the wells)

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