One of the most important components of a forest biome is the soil. Soil sustains life above the surface and is very much alive within itself. It is rich and flourishing with millions of organisms that are consuming, digesting and cycling nutrients. Soil organisms contribute to soil structure, porosity, and nutrient availability. And they have an interesting interdependence, many of which form symbiotic relationships with plants and trees. One of these organisms is the beneficial fungi, Mycorrhizae, which is widely known to colonize plant roots to increase the surface area of root systems and assist in the uptake of nutrients and water. In return, the fungi feed on the sugars from the plant. The benefits of this relationship add up quickly, with a possibility to be replicated in horticulture.
Seven Reasons to Consider Utilizing Mycorrhizae as a Plant Biostimulant
1. Mycorrhizae can make the plant’s root system better at what it already does. By increasing the surface area of roots, Mycorrhizae can often make the root system more efficient.
2. Mycorrhizae can extend the plant’s reach to nutrients and water, allowing them to use more of the resources in the soil.
3. With extended reach and more uptake efficiency, the need for chemical fertilizers may be reduced, resulting in cost savings and a positive environmental impact.
4. Mycorrhizae may help reduce the vulnerability of plants to environmental stressors, like drought, metals, and hardened soil. A stronger plant is better able to withstand the ups and downs of its surroundings.
5. Mycorrhizae doesn’t just benefit the plant above the ground, it also improves soil structure, working in harmony with other microbes and soil amendments.
6. Mycorrhizae has been shown to support increased flower and fruit yield.
7. Mycorrhizae is often used to help minimize transplant shock, improve seedling and transplant survival, and accelerate plant establishment . This is an important commercial use to combat costly plant failure.
Introducing Mycorrhizae to the root zone at planting may help replicate the vibrance of microbial activity we see in forest floors. The Mycorrhizae will take on a life of their own, and the benefits to the plant will last its lifetime. As we witness the expanding use of biostimulants in horticulture, it will be interesting to see how the use of Mycorrhizae evolves.