What Farmers Need to Know About Mycorrhizae

Benefits of Mycorrhizae

One of AMF’s benefits to crops, and perhaps the most significant, is phosphorus uptake.

When Mycorrhizae Becomes Parasitic

While AMF can provide many benefits for plants, Cahill says that in some situations the relationship can be parasitic.

Testing for Mycorrhizae

Unfortunately, at this time it’s difficult for growers to determine whether their AMF is benefitting their crops or not, Cahill says, because it’s not enough to know whether the plants are infected by mycorrhizae. Instead, it’s a question of whether the plant would do better on its own.

Best Practices for Healthy Mycorrhizae

Increase Crop Diversity

The best way farmers can help AMF be beneficial for their crops is by increasing their plant diversity.

Rotate Brassicas and Maintain Weed Control

Because brassicas don’t associate with AMF, Hart recommends farmers who are growing them space them out in their rotation.

Reduce Tillage

One practice growers will want to reduce or avoid when trying to promote healthy mycorrhizal fungi and soil biology is tillage.

Be Mindful of Fungicides, Fertilizers

Farmers also need to be mindful of the products they apply if they want to promote AMF growth.

Should You Use Inoculants?

If you’re growing a perennial like alfalfa or a crop that’s going to be there for 10 years, then applying an inoculant may provide a jumpstart for AMF, says Berns.

Grow Native Species

Instead, Hart recommends growers focus on promoting the mycorrhizal fungi populations already in their fields by trying to grow plants that are native to the land — whether it be through cash crops, intercropping or cover crops — so the mycorrhizal fungi and all of the soil microbes become more diverse, sustainable, and ultimately, more functional.

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