Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mycorrhizae - Soil science behind organics - Q&A

Mycorrhizae (My-Co-Rise-Ah) are a type of fungi which penetrates the cells of the roots of a plant and act in harmony with plant roots. In layman's terms they plug into your vines root system and greatly increase its size. With the help of the Mycorrhizae the vines root systems are much more effective.
Small fine roots in undisturbed soil.
Mycorrhizae are even smaller than these roots!
Unfortunately the fungi are sensitive to cultivation (it breaks them up) heavy fertilizer rates and herbicide (some promote bacteria at the expense of fungi, others destroy the fungi themselves).

The simple rules for maximising mycorrhizae are to limit;
  • Cultivation (preferably none)
  • Herbicide applications
  • Fungicide applications
Not easy to do as limiting herbicide and cultivation means weed control (to prevent excessive moisture usage) is hard too manage.

High levels of Mycorrhizae are one of the key benefits of Organic/BioDynamic farming systems. High levels of Mycorrhizae mean more efficient root systems. More efficient root systems means more robust plants better able to survive stress.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are Mycorrhizae a parasite? Some would say so in a vineyard situation where nutrients are not limiting and the mycorrhizae take carbon from the vine in exchange for scavenging nutrients. Then again is the debate academic since you can't really get rid of it altogether anyway...
At the end of the day, a natural system will always win out so hug some fungi!