Following on from the blog I wrote a year and a half ago:

The message within and following that blog was clearly that practitioners would find it difficult to find a specific purpose to use mychorrizal products in their usual arsenal.

Mychorrizal products entered the market predominantly as a supplement to enhance the plants performance. And many suppliers have used mychorrizal as a supplement to newer super products, without even detailing the addition of the product. As previously discussed the results, which for a client need to be relatively instant were often disappointed with no visual signs of improvement.

However it has been clear to many plant scientists that there are significant improvements - mychorrizal addition is now commonplace within large sections of the land management industry. And many big names have introduced products to assist including David Austen and as such condensed mychorrizal treatment has occurred on a large scale with little publicity.

For the UK practitioner who has to follow the lead of a client who is drip fed considerable information by way of the media it is difficult if not impossible to convince that such an introduction would be beneficial. This problem is inherent in the landscaping industry as it is basically divided into three sections. The academia at the upper strata, The media and those who follow it in the middle strata and the practitioner. Thus a connection between the top strata and the practitioner is fractured and many of the innovative solutions and necessary information is stifled. Mychorrizal is a clear illustration of this - it is effectively ignored by the media, whose job to try and explain it to potential clients would be unenviable to say the least.

But I am shocked at the fact that very little if anything has been reported on the successes of trialling mychorrizal products as a protection against diseases.

With serious threats of strains of Phytophthora and other diseases spreading across the UK and Western Europe doing damage to crops, horticultural planting and native woodland and trees, there has been huge investment and time, (it is worth bearing in mind the efforts of many who have spent their time into investigating the problems without funding), in sourcing any allies in the preventation and preferably the halting of diseases.

Mychorrizal appears to be the most apparent and safe ally we can use and many are concentrating efforts in pest and disease control using mychorrizae as the predominant ingredient.

You can find many examples of successfull trials using mychorrizal in peer reviewed academic press, including on the internet.

below is an extract copied from the US site ATTRA , National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. From which additional links can be found.

''Mycorrhizal Fungi and Disease Suppression

Among the most beneficial root-inhabiting organisms, mycorrhizal fungi can cover plant roots, forming what is known as a fungal mat. The mycorrhizal fungi protect plant roots from diseases in several ways:

  • By providing a physical barrier to the invading pathogen. A few examples of physical exclusion have been reported (4). Physical protection is more likely to exclude soil insects and nematodes than bacteria or fungi. However, some studies have shown that nematodes can penetrate the fungal mat (5).
  • By providing antagonistic chemicals. Mycorrhizal fungi can produce a variety of antibiotics and other toxins that act against pathogenic organisms.
  • By competing with the pathogen.
  • By increasing the nutrient-uptake ability of plant roots. For example, improved phosphorus uptake in the host plant has commonly been associated with mychorrhizal fungi. When plants are not deprived of nutrients, they are better able to tolerate or resist disease-causing organisms.
  • By changing the amount and type of plant root exudates. Pathogens dependent on certain exudates will be at a disadvantage as the exudates change.

In field studies with eggplant, fruit numbers went from an average of 3.5 per plant to an average of 5.8 per plant when inoculated withGigaspora margarita mycorrhizal fungi. Average fruit weight per plant went from 258 grams to 437 grams. A lower incidence of Verticillium wilt was also realized in the mycorrhizal plants (6).

Protection from the pathogen Fusarium oxysporum was shown in a field study using a cool-season annual grass and mycorrhizal fungi. In this study the disease was suppressed in mycorrhizae-colonized grass inoculated with the pathogen. In the absence of disease the benefit to the plant from the mycorrhizal fungi was negligible. Roots were twice as long where they had grown in the presence of both the pathogen and the mycorrhizal fungi as opposed to growing with the pathogen alone. Great care was taken in this study to assure that naturally-occurring mycorrhizal species were used that normally occur in the field with this grass, and that their density on the plant roots was typical (7).''

Preston Sullivan
NCAT Agriculture Specialist
© NCAT 2004
ATTRA Publication #IP173

The above article is 6 years old and many more recent studies, particularly using Potatoes, Tomatoes and Chillies are proving that Mychorrizal is a positive addition to any land management in halting to suppress diseases. In place of any product which can eradicate the onslaught of diseases is it time to seriously consider mychorrizal products to be included as standard.

Swansea University has been one of many research centres working on and discovering uses of fungal treatments to pest and disease management.

I haven't changed my mind altogether with regards Mychorrizal products in general. They have a more specific purpose than many believe and the over use of the products could be dangerous in the long term. But following from experimentation in Paris and from previous experience in poor soils I can highly recommend using the products as standard if used properly in the following scenarios for a practitioner:

1) Tired Urban Soils, for gras, plantations, beds and urban tree planting. The risk of contaminants, lack of nutrients etc., allow the perfect location to use mychorrizal additives.

2) To allow a rapid change from a 'chemical' management regime into a natural or organic management regime.

3) In large containers for long term pot plants, for a client who is unlikely to feed at the recommended intervals.

4) Initial landscaping following the new build of a house.

We now use 'Novozyme' products habitually in Urban landscaping and the results certainly give us an edge and allow for safe guarantees. The assistance offered by agronomists working for the company give them an edge over competitors as site specific solutions are often given free.



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