Plants for millions of years have depended on the mutually beneficial association with the mycorrhizae fungi. This symbiotic relationship has been observed for almost every plant in its natural habitat. The association has been known to aid plants in water and nutrient absorption from the soil.
As a reminder, mycorrhizae, as the name depicts, is a fungus and the root of a plant. “Myco” means fungus, and “Rhizae” means root. There are mainly two types of mycorrhizae, the endo mycorrhizae and the ectomycorrhizae. The endo mycorrhizae are also called arbuscular using mycorrhizal fungi. They are the more important of the two types since they associate with most plants, over 90%.
These fungi are usually naturally present in the soil.
But heavy agricultural practices like repeated tillage and long farrowing may have depleted them. It is then necessary to add these important of beneficial fungi to the soil; here is how.
It has been said that arbuscular mycorrhizae are the best option. How and where then do you get these lovelies?
There are commercial inoculants of these fungi on sale. These inoculants are available in diverse forms such as granules, liquids, and powder. The inoculants are mainly composed of either mycorrhizal spores, colonized root fragments, or viable hyphae. Sometimes already inhabited root system of some plants can be used to add the mycorrhizae to the soil.
There are methods through which you can make your own inoculant without having to buy the commercial ones. That is a subject for another time.
Let us now consider the ways through which you can add the commercial mycorrhizal inoculant to the soil.
Whatever the form of mycorrhizal inoculant, it is best to add it while the root is still young. The early plant roots colonization will allow the plant to benefit from the association maximally. The goal when you apply Mycorrhizal Fungi is to make direct root contact.
This is especially true for granular or water-soluble products, as the Mycorrhizae would then form a natural symbiosis with the root mass. This significantly increasing your plant’s reach and provides additional ability to access the water and essential minerals it requires to grow. Depending on the circumstances and conditions, using a granular or soluble inoculant has advantages.
Keep things straightforward and avoid complicating them. In contrast to synthetic chemicals and common fertilizers, Mycorrhizal Fungi cannot harm your plants if used excessively or frequently. Again for optimal outcomes, follow the product instructions.
This is the best method for adding mycorrhizae to the soil. The inoculant is added to the seeds before planting. This will enable colonization of the roots to begin as soon as possible, resulting in a close bond. As the seeds germinate, the spores or colonized root fragments begin the colonization at the contact of living root tissue.
The establishment of the mycorrhizal association will take a few weeks. The seed application method involves inoculating the seeds. The inoculant comes in powdered form, and it is best to use it in liquid form. You can also plant seeds using the inoculant’s granular form.
A few portions of the granules is added into the planting furrows along with the seed. This achieves similar results as the seed treatment methods with the liquid or powdered forms.
Take the following steps to do the seed treatment with the mycorrhizae inoculant.
When you have the granular form of the inoculant, it may be hard to do the seed treatment method. The fungi can be added after the seeds have been planted in several ways. The mycorrhizal inoculants can also be added when seedlings are being transplanted. For the transplant, you can rub the powdered, or a few granular inoculates on the root ball.
Before putting the seedlings, you can pour the inoculants at the base of the trenches. After the transplanting, you can aslo add it in furrows near the base of the seedlings. In this case, you can use the powdered form, granules, or liquid.
This will also allow the association to start early enough for practical benefits.
For established plants, it is also possible to add mycorrhizae to the soil around them. Applying granular mycorrhizae to established plants is also advantageous. Few granules can be dipped into the soil adjacent to the growing crop. As soon as the roots reach that region, they will inoculate and colonize. This may invariably require more volume of inoculants than the seed treatment method.
You can also use soluble inoculants in solutions. To apply them to the soil, combine them with compost tea. This method will be more effective for porous soil where the inoculant can easily percolate. The mycorrhizae will establish the association as soon as they meet with root tissues in the soil.
This works particularly well for indoor or potted plants. It is good to remember watering the soil after the spraying to enhance the percolation. Add a well-covered drip line and/or some mulch. With sunlight present, mycorrhizae cannot survive.
For an effective mycorrhizae result, it is essential to take note of some things.
Whichever form of the mycorrhizae inoculate you have chosen to use, ensure it has not expired. It is now time to sit back and see the tremendous good that will come to your garden. You are wondering how you can be sure the process is worth the try! This is why you must leave a portion of your seed or seedlings or established plant untreated.
There should a control population of the plant so that you can well appreciate the worth. Once you have added the mycorrhizae well, you may not need to worry again. Once there is mycorrhizae relationship, you are all done.