These days, everyone’s talking about the ‘wood wide web’ and the benefits of mycorrhizal fungi.

But have you found a useful resource summing up all the benefits? I haven’t.

The information is scattered in scientific papers, books and articles. For example, one article will explain how these fungi dramatically increase water and nutrient availability for their host plants. Another how they release sugars from the tips of their hyphae to feed phosphate – solubilizing bacteria.

The information is so discombobulated. It’s frustrating.

So I thought the mind map I put together to help me organise the information for the Eco-logical Farming Handbook, would be a good resource to share with you.

It shows all the benefits I have found so far.

There are likely to be others. If you have come across any please help improve this resource by leaving a comment below.

When I was studying for my degree in ecology, way back in… Maybe I won’t say exactly! Scientists were just starting to talk about mycorrhizal fungi. I remember that they had discovered a couple of plantation grown conifer species had symbiotic relationships with these fungi.

NOW we know that these fungi are indispensable. That over 90% of plants species, including most crop plants, form associations with these specialised soil fungi.

Take a look at the diagram below to see why we can work with these fungi to:

  • Reduce irrigation, fertiliser and pest control costs
  • Grow stronger plants
  • Improve our soil

 

(Right-click on image to view enlarged version)

How to grow more fungi in your soil

  1. Grow a continuous cover of plants to maintain food supplies – root exudates
  2. Use minimum or preferably zero tillage and digging!
  3. Avoid using broad-spectrum fungicides – they are toxic to mycorrhizal fungi
  4. Reducing nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser applications – plants reduce exudate supplies when these nutrients are readily available in soil

Here’s a couple of questions for you

  1. How did plants get nutrients and water for the first 75 million years after colonising dry land?
  2. What’s the main function of roots?

Answer – (1) Mycorrhizal fungi.

Answer – (2) Anchoring your plants in the soil. Roots function mainly as backups for when plants can’t form beneficial associations with mycorrhizal fungi.

Wow! That’s a different perspective.