Mycorrhizal fungi to protect your investment
There are many things growers do all year round to help optimise their crop health and yield. Yet when it comes to mother nature’s input, there are some things out of our control. Excess rain, flooding, drought, heatwaves, persistent winds – the elements!
Mycorrhizal fungi are a powerful tool in protecting your investment, giving plants resilience against extreme conditions such as flooding and drought, whilst improving productivity. A healthy living soil full of living organisms (beneficial bacterial and fungi) is the foundation of a thriving farm and this is one such organism that you should consider adding to your nutrition regime.
What are Mycorrhizal fungi?
Mycorrhizal fungi are prevalent in natural soil. However, they have been depleted in many soils due to modern farming techniques, sterilising the soil of both useful and harmful organisms.
These beneficial microbes create microscopic but far-reaching networks of long threads under the ground. They are a common component of fertile soil and can be found in the millions in the dirt under your feet. If you were to pick up a handful of soil, you would have kilometres of this invisible fungal web in your hands.
Some species of Mycorrhizal fungi stay outside of plants, and some penetrate the plants (Ecto and Endomycorrhizal Fungi). Both types allow more water and nutrients to pass to the plant, and in return, the plant generates sugars for the fungi. Thus the symbiotic relationship of Mycorrhizal Fungi and plants exists to allow both organisms to thrive.
The microscopic fungi sheath the plant roots and effectively extend them in an underground web extending their surface area hundreds of times over.
They use this web to physically access nutrients that are out of the roots natural reach. The superfine strands are much smaller than the tiniest of roots hairs and can penetrate parts of soil and reach nutrients that the plants can’t reach alone.
They produce enzymes to break down unavailable, bound nutrients, especially phosphorus. They transport these nutrients to the root zone, where it is readily available and more absorbable for the plant.
Benefits to crops
Mycorrhizal fungi increase soil nutrient uptake in 90% of plant species, and in fact, plants suffer in their absence. This enhanced nutrient uptake provides a full scope of benefits to your crops, including:
- Positively impacts yield.
- Improved use of applied fertiliser and native minerals, creates the possibility of reducing rates of fertiliser applied (notably phosphorous), saving resources and costs.
- Drought and heat resistance – helps plants cope with extreme weather conditions or irregular precipitation.
- Forms soil Aggregates – helps the soil stay together, reducing the loss of valuable topsoil.
- Resilience – the more robust the plants, the more resistant they are to pest and pathogens.
- Glomalin produced by Mycorrhizal fungi is a vital link in carbon sequestration; plants move carbon CO2 from the environment and store in Glomalin earth sinks.
Here are some typical examples of plants grown with plentiful Mycorrhizal networks around the root systems, against ones without. These images are from our own product trial database (independent trials completed with the products we stock). View our trial archives here.
Mycorrhizal fungi a key tool in the fight against global warming
We know trees and plants ‘breathe in’ C02 and remove it from the air. But where does it go? Biological sequestration involves the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by plants and microorganism storing it in the soil.
Enter Mycorrhizal fungi. Plants and trees take CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. CO2 enters the plant down into the roots and into the millions of miles of mycorrhizal fungal extensions in the ground. These organisms regulate carbon storage and are effectively conduits for carbon assimilated into the soil. The vast reach of the fungal web has the capacity to store huge amounts of carbon in the ground, enough to make a sizable impact on our ability to fight global warming. So soils teeming with healthy populations of Mycorrhizal fungi are an effective tool to help climate change.
The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental studies takes a closer look at this phenomenon and says… “The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought.”
What is Glomalin?
The glomalin produced from mycorrhizal fungi stores carbon from the atmosphere, locking it up in the soil. When plants ( such as trees and grasses) pull in co2 from the air through photosynthesis, the healthy microbial connections enables the movement of the carbon into long term storage in the soil carbon pool.
Essentially, the healthier and microbe-rich our soils are, the more carbon can be taken out of the atmosphere and stored underground, where it came from. This will positively impact global warming. Mycorrhizal fungi really are a superhero in the growing world and are a valuable part of the environmental eco-system. Farmers and growers are not only providing food for the world but by keeping their land healthy they are also ensuring a healthy world for us all to live in.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) AgResearch Division has commissioned research on this magic ingredient that show the positive impact that farm soil quality can have on climate change. “Until its discovery in 1996 by ARS soil scientist Sara F. Wright, this soil “super glue” was mistaken for an unidentifiable constituent of soil organic matter. Rather, it permeates organic matter, binding it to silt, sand, and clay particles. Not only does glomalin contain 30 to 40 percent carbon, but it also forms clumps of soil granules called aggregates. These add structure to soil and keep other stored soil carbon from escaping.”
Available for pre-order now. Coming soon.
Roots, Shoots & Fruits has been supplying Mycorrhizal fungi to growers for two decades. The newest range of Mycorrhizal fungi, Rootella, contains more formulations to suit different types of applications, including a granular and a fine powder, with high concentrations of live organisms. Rootella is Biogro certified, and applicable to most crops especially at planting. It is important that you speak to your ag-retail rep or call Roots, Shoots & Fruits to identify the best formulation for your crop.