Mycorrhizae fungi have been in existence for more that 400-million years, since the first plant life appeared on dry land. These fungi are a vital component of soil’s chemistry, and help to boost the development of the root system in the early period of plant growth. This is critical to establishing the root system in the upper layer of soil.
Forming a close symbiotic relationship with plant roots, Mycorrhizae fungi help to expand the surface area of roots and thus to increase their capacity to absorb water, nutrients and minerals, as well as their ability to resist soil pathogens. In fact, the word ‘Mycorrhizae’ quite literally means ‘fungus root’, and is derived from two Greek words: ‘mykes’ meaning fungus, and ‘rhiza’ meaning root.
Thanks to Mycorrhizae, plants are able to better withstand the effects of drought, fight diseases and yield greater crops.
Apart from increasing the surface area of roots, which leads to greater nutrient and water uptake, Mycorrhizae also releases powerful enzymes into the soil that dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients. These nutrients, such as phosphorus, iron and organic nitrogen among others, are greatly beneficial to the health of your plants, and once “unbound”, can be taken up by the roots and absorbed into the plant.
Without Mycorrhizae, these nutrients are captured and dissolved by other types of fungi, and are incorporated back into the soil so that the soil may remain nutrient-rich. This prevents roots from absorbing them and deprives your plants of important natural compound required for their growth.
The relationship between Mycorrhizae and its host is a symbiotic one. Thus, while the Mycorrhizae carries on its activities, the plant provides it with various nutrients and carbohydrates that facilitate growth and encourage the excretion of glomalin into the soil – a substance that improves the structure of the soil, as well as its concentration of beneficial organic matter. Both organisms are thus benefitted through the presence of Mycorrhizae in the soil.
Mycorrhizae microbes are usually present in all untouched types of soil. However, most modern farming practices disturb the soil, and thus degrade the properties of the Mycorrhizae present in it.
Many types of agricultural activities can reduce or eliminate Mycorrhizae microbes in the soil, including fertilization, erosion, tillage, site preparation, topsoil removal, construction, fumigation, alien plant invasion and leaving soils bare, among other things. Thus, to enjoy the benefits of Mycorrhizae on your crops, it’s wise to reintroduce it into areas that have undergone these kinds of activities.
Applying Mycorrhizae to soil is simple, and no special equipment or skills are required. The aim is to facilitate contact between the Mycorrhizae and the root of the plant, and therefore Mycorrhizae is available in various forms, including granules, liquid and powder.
Mycorrhizae can be sprinkled onto roots during transplanting, applied via sprinklers or irrigation systems, or worked into the root zone of existing crops.