Because the idea of examining soils bacteriologically owed its inception to the development of the gelatine plate method for isolating pure cultures, very naturally the first investigations of soil bacteria were by the use of plate cultures. the studies, therefore, were purely quantitative in nature. The results secured by the pioneers in this work demonstrated some facts of considerable interest, but it soon became evident that mere quantitative determinations of the bacteria in soils were inadequate to give information regarding the relation of such organisms and their activities to the fertility of the soil.
Brown, Percy Edgar
"Methods for the bacteriological examination of soils,"
Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station): Vol. 1
, Article 1.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/researchbulletin/vol1/iss11/1