The Importance of Mycorrhizal Fungi
Mycorrhizal fungi form relationships with over 95% of plant species. They surround and even enter the roots of these plants, and provide nutrients such as phosphorus (and even nitrogen) and water to plants in exchange for carbohydrates, usually sugars. In fact, some plants may trade more than 50% of their carbohydrates with these fungi and other microbes in exchange for the vital role soil microorganisms’ play in the soil including:
- Making nutrients plant ready
- Producing optimised growing conditions
- Significantly improve soil characteristics and quality
- Increasing water availability
In soil that has recently been tilled/worked, compacted, water logged, or treated with chemicals, mycorrhizae will be lacking, unfortunately in this day and age these types of soils are very common. They are not present in imported topsoil or potting soil mix, either, and they cannot be multiplied in compost. In any of these situations, they need to be added back to the soil because they are essential to optimum plant growth and health and should always be used whenever planting or seeding.
There are two main categories of Mycorrhizae relationships: Endomycorrhizal fungi (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) form relationships with over 90% of plants (including turf grasses). Ectomycorrhizal fungi form relationships with only about 2% of plants, but some of them are quite common.
How to Enhance Mycorrhizae Activity
It is important to make sure that you have a good balance of Bacteria and Fungi in your soil and Mycorrhiae forms part of this. Through using an inoculant or bio-stimulant like EM you can kick start the natural process in the soil and stimulate michorryzae activity. This will allow the plant to get the benefit that this fungi generate while also ensuring a good balance between Fungi and bacteria due to the strains of bacteria present in EM.
Other options include coating you seeds in mycorrizae prior to drilling or inoculating post drilling.