Seeking Safer, Saner Agriculture Through Mycorrhizal Fungi

Gardeners and farmers can work to sustain the ancient, beneficial partnership between plants and microscopic fungi that helps boost plants’ access to nutrients and moisture.

| August/September 2014

  • Plot of Land
    To promote the beneficial fungi that boost plants’ access to nutrients, farmers and gardeners should till the soil as little as possible and use natural methods to suppress weeds. Here, stalks decompose in a no-till field in Ohio.
    Photo by Fotolia/iphoto

  • Plot of Land

We are especially proud of our story, Mycorrhizal Fungi: The Amazing Underground Secret to a Better Garden, which explains one key way we can improve our gardens: by supporting the astonishing partnership soil fungi form with plants.

New scientific understanding of this relationship has emerged over the past few decades, and we now know that invisible networks of super-thin fungal threads (hyphae) are the principal structures for nutrient uptake for plants — not plant roots alone, as we had previously thought.

Scientists have discovered that this partnership is more than 400 million years old. So far, they have identified more than 6,000 species of these fungi — called “mycorrhizae” — that support crop and tree growth.

These extensive fungal networks interconnect with roots, making plants more drought-tolerant and extending plants’ access to many nutrients by up to 2,500 times! Plus, the fungal threads help hold topsoil particles together, protecting the soil from erosion.

The fungi-plant relationship is symbiotic, meaning that both organisms benefit from it. The fungi deliver nutrients to the plant and, in return, the plant releases 10 to 20 percent of the carbohydrates it produces to the fungi. If there are no plants to feed them, these beneficial fungi die.

To promote this fungi-plant partnership, we should change several things about how we farm and garden. First, we should till the soil as little as possible. Second, we should avoid using chemical pesticides. And, third, we should never leave soil bare, even in winter. Instead, we should cultivate cover crops to keep live plants growing in our beds and fields year-round.



Learn at Home!

Register now to get access to ALL current video workshops and prerecorded webinars plus anything new that we add through the end of 2020.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters