Benefits Of Using Mycorrhizal Fungi When Planting Plants. Mycorrhizal Preparations. Photo

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Benefits Of Using Mycorrhizal Fungi When Planting Plants. Mycorrhizal Preparations. Photo
Benefits Of Using Mycorrhizal Fungi When Planting Plants. Mycorrhizal Preparations. Photo

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Many experienced gardeners have heard about the symbiosis of the root system of plants with special fungi - mycorrhizal. Basically, mycorrhiza is mentioned in the recommendations for growing plants that love acidic soil, such as blueberries and conifers. Recently, mycorrhiza preparations have become increasingly common to me in garden stores, and I decided to study the issue in more detail. As it turned out, mycorrhiza is extremely useful not only for blueberries and all kinds of "Christmas trees". It is of interest to almost all gardeners, because it is beneficial even for fruit trees. In this article I will tell you what mycorrhizal fungi are and how they affect the root system of cultivated plants.

Benefits of using mycorrhizal fungi when planting plants
Benefits of using mycorrhizal fungi when planting plants

Content:

  • What is mycorrhiza?
  • Benefits of mycorrhizal fungi for cultivated plants
  • What are mycorrhizal drugs?
  • How to use mycorrhiza?

What is mycorrhiza?

According to scientists, mycorrhizal fungi originated at least 460 million years ago and played a key role in the evolution of plant life. However, breeders have only begun to understand the important role these fungi play in plant development in the last 20 years. At the same time, the first attempts were made to use mycorrhiza to increase the yield and increase the viability of plants.

The word "mycorrhiza" is formed by combining two words: 'myco' ("mushroom") and "riza" ("root"). Thus, the name reflects the essence of this organism - the implementation of the connection between the fungus and the root. Fungi that form these relationships, called mycorrhizal fungi and mycorrhiza-forming fungi.

The interaction of fungi and plant root systems is symbiotic. As a result of such mutually beneficial cooperation, mycorrhizal fungi receive from the plant the carbon necessary for the development and growth of the fungus, and in exchange provide moisture and nutrients from the soil to the plant root.

Experts believe that over 80% of higher plant species are able to form a symbiosis with mycorrhiza, including all fruit trees and shrubs that we grow in our gardens. There are also certain types of plants that simply cannot survive without mycorrhizal fungi.

If we consider mycorrhizal fungi among forest edibles, then it should be noted that most of them "specialize" in some specific trees. So, larch oiler forms mycorrhiza only with larch. A white mushroom in some regions can "cohabit" with oak, birch, pine and spruce (for example, in St. Petersburg and the region), and in the south - with hornbeam and beech. Boletus, camelina, boletus, chanterelle are also examples of mycorrhizal fungi.

Mycorrhizal fungi are composed of long, thin hyphae that come into contact with the cells of the plant's root system and then spread in the surrounding soil in search of nutrients and water.

Among mycorrhizal fungi, the most common:

  • Endomycorrhizal fungi - fungal hyphae of this type actually grow into the cells of the plant root system. This type of mycorrhizal fungi cannot be seen without magnification under a microscope, since their main part is located inside the root, and the presence of the fungus on the surface is weak. Endomycorrhizal fungi enter into symbiosis with almost all types of plants - from the tiniest grasses to gigantic trees, but in most cases they have a relationship with herbaceous plants.
  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi - this type of fungus grows on the outside of the roots, forming a shell that may look like a sheath or so-called “mycorrhizal tubes”. Hyphae spread along the intercellular spaces without penetrating into the cells themselves. Ectomycorrhizal fungi predominantly enter into symbiosis with certain types of trees, such as, for example, pine and birch. In this case, no root hairs are observed on the plant roots.
White mushroom in some regions can "cohabit" with oak, birch, pine and spruce, and in others - with hornbeam and beech
White mushroom in some regions can "cohabit" with oak, birch, pine and spruce, and in others - with hornbeam and beech

Benefits of mycorrhizal fungi for cultivated plants

Improving soil nutrition

First of all, the hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi spread in the soil, providing the root system with a much larger area for the absorption of moisture and essential nutrients. Although the root system of many plants can be quite powerful, but mycorrhizal hyphae can reach hundreds of meters, being like an extension of the root.

Mycorrhiza intensively decomposes coarse organic substances into simple elements, making them readily available for plant nutrition. Symbiont mushrooms provide the plant with such nutrients as potassium, nitrogen, zinc and others. This means that the gardener will need to apply much less fertilizer when growing crops that are in such a symbiosis. Such plants also have to be watered less often, because their resistance to drought is significantly increased due to mycorrhiza, which extracts moisture from great depths.

As for the question of whether it is possible to feed plants with mycorrhiza infested, fertilizing with mineral fertilizers, in principle, is not prohibited. But it is important to keep their concentration low in the soil, as this can harm both the plant and the fungi.

Mycorrhiza shows itself well when used together with granular fertilizers of prolonged action, effectively processing them into forms accessible to the plant.

Naturally, mycorrhiza is successfully used in organic farming.

Protecting plants from pests and diseases

Mycorrhizal fungi, which secrete certain enzymes, create a physical barrier around the root system of plants, thus protecting them from pathogens, insect pests and small insects that feed on the roots.

Mycorrhizal fungi have significant antimicrobial and antifungal properties, therefore they can suppress the development of root and fruit rot of cultivated plants, fungal infections (fusarium, late blight, scab) and other diseases. They significantly increase the resistance of crops to parasites and nematodes.

In addition, mycorrhizal fungi contribute to the restoration and improvement of the soil in general. This is because they produce a sticky protein called glomalin. This substance helps reduce erosion and stabilizes soil texture. It is believed that glomalin contains more than a third of the world's carbon and is completely harmless.

Root development with and without mycorrhiza (right) (left)
Root development with and without mycorrhiza (right) (left)

Higher yields and better fruit quality

Symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi promotes better plant survival. Under the influence of such mushrooms, the root system of crops is actively developing, their immunity is strengthened, the taste and aesthetic characteristics of berries and fruits are noticeably improved.

An experiment was carried out in Kent County in Britain. Artificial beds in the form of bags of soil, which are often used there for growing strawberries and raspberries, do not contain natural mycobiota. The study showed that strawberry sack beds treated with mycorrhiza fungi showed statistically significantly higher yields and larger fruits than plants grown without mycorrhiza.

Exchange of nutrients between plants

Mycorrhizal fungi have another unique ability, they form communication networks underground, because intertwining hyphae can create symbiosis with several plants at the same time. As a result, they become conductors between plants and arteries for the exchange of nutrients. However, most strains of mycorrhizal fungi do not produce fruiting bodies, which would be completely unnecessary in this context of using the fungus.

Potatoes without and with mycorrhiza
Potatoes without and with mycorrhiza

What are mycorrhizal drugs?

As mentioned above, all fruit trees and shrubs, as well as vegetables that we grow on our site, are able to form a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi occur naturally in the soil, but the regular use of chemicals (large amounts of mineral fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, etc.) depletes the mycorrhiza populations. Therefore, it is advisable to additionally introduce mycorrhiza into the soil.

Today, there are many myco-preparations of Western and domestic production based on mycorrhizal fungi on sale. Most often, mycorrhiza is marketed in the form of powder or granules, which are introduced into the soil during planting. Thanks to a special technology, when in contact with the roots, the fungi colonize the root system of the plant in just two weeks, while in the presence of mycorrhiza in the soil under natural conditions, this process can take years.

Another form of myco-preparations is liquid (ready-made solution packaged in vials). This form has its pros and cons. On the one hand, the effect of their use manifests itself faster (the powder and granules will take some time to activate the vital activity of the spores), but at the same time the shelf life of the liquid preparation is more limited, compared to dry forms.

Myco-preparations are different in composition and may contain only one strain or several different strains of mycorrhiza. Also, manufacturers often add beneficial bacteria to them (Bacillus subtilis, licheniformis, azotoformans, megaterium and others), spores of the Bacillus rhizosphere, seaweed meal and humic acids.

How to use mycorrhiza?

Planting closed-root plants

When planting seedlings with a clod of earth, for example, when transplanting and planting container plants in a permanent place, you just need to add granules to the planting hole and cover them with soil, as in the usual application of granular fertilizers. Usually, 5 grams (teaspoon) of mycorrhiza powder is required per plant, but it is better to check the instructions for a particular preparation before use.

Most often, mycorrhiza is marketed in the form of powder or granules, which are introduced into the soil during planting
Most often, mycorrhiza is marketed in the form of powder or granules, which are introduced into the soil during planting

Planting plants with an open root system

When planting trees, shrubs or strawberry seedlings with bare roots (open root system), it is better to moisten the roots well by dipping them in water, and then dip them in a container with granules just before planting.

Sometimes the so-called "professional mycorrhiza" is on sale, where a special sachet with gel is included in the set. In this case, it is necessary to mix the gel with water until a homogeneous paste is formed (like an emulsion), mix the granules with the gel and dip the roots of the plant. This option ensures maximum contact between roots and mycorrhizal fungi.

In container gardening

When growing plants in containers, mycorrhiza is mixed with the substrate. Micropreparations can be used in any substrate: soil, peat, coconut fiber, mineral wool and hydroponics. When using mycorrhiza in container gardening, it is important to observe several conditions in order to effectively colonize the substrate with fungi:

  • the substrate must be constantly moist for the first two weeks from the moment of application of the drug, that is, it must be regularly moistened; after the expiration of this period, watering should be regular, as necessary, but the main thing is to prevent the soil from completely drying out;
  • when using mycorrhiza, antifungal drugs should not be added to the substrate;
  • for accelerated and successful colonization, it is recommended to feed the mycorrhiza with carbohydrates, which will provide the mushrooms with nutrition and accelerate their growth.

Mycorrhiza for previously planted plants

To add mycorrhiza to the plants already growing on your site, you need to purchase a mycorrhiza preparation intended for preparing a working solution. After the powder is diluted in settled water, you need to water it at the root. Usually, for the best effect, the procedure is repeated once every two weeks, or once a month, it is desirable that such waterings be at least five times per season.

Mycorrhiza for seedlings

When using mycorrhiza for seedlings, the micropreparation should be diluted in settled or non-chlorinated water and abundantly water the soil in seedling containers about 2-3 days before sowing seeds. Subsequently, after picking the seedlings, the cut seedlings are watered with a working solution of mycorrhiza. If there are several picks, then the plants are spilled with a solution each time.

Important: for the preparation of emulsion or solutions with mycorrhiza, only filtered or distilled water should be used. Chlorine compounds in tap water inhibit fungal growth. If you cannot use filtered or distilled water, then you need to settle the water from the tap, at least for a day.

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