Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2014
Publication Date: 1/17/2014
Citation: Douds, D.D. 2014. Take advantage of mycorrhizal fungi for improved soil fertility and plant health. Meeting Abstract. pp. 4-5.
Technical Abstract: Arbuscular mycorrhizal [AM] fungi are naturally-occurring soil fungi that form a beneficial symbiosis with the roots of most crops. The plants benefit because the symbiosis increases mineral nutrient uptake, drought resistance, and disease resistance. These characteristics make utilization of AM fungi essential in sustainable agriculture systems which seek to reduce chemical inputs. There are two ways farmers can better utilize the symbiosis: 1) enhance the activity of the naturally-occurring AM fungi in their soils and 2) inoculate their crops with effective strains of AM fungi. Row crop farmers are largely limited to the first option, and should adopt over wintering cover crops, reduced tillage, and diverse crop rotations to enhance the activity of their native populations of AM fungi. Vegetable crop farmers who grow their own seedlings for outplanting to the field can inoculate with AM fungi. An option for them is to grow their own inoculum on-farm in bags with a compost and vermiculite mixture and bahiagrass as the host plant. Inoculum produced in this fashion has been shown to be effective with potatoes, peppers, leeks, strawberries, and sweet potatoes. Optimal utilization of symbioses such as arbuscular mycorrhizas can contribute to the success of sustainable agricultural systems.