Getting To The Root Of Improved Fruit And Vegetable Production

By: Lauren María Alexander (Excerpt from Growing Produce, September 2016)

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Taking a holistic approach to soil health is a key to increasing plant vigor and yields. High yields begin with healthy soil, and maintaining a proper balance between nutrients, microorganisms, and other compounds is an essential part of the soil health equation.

Mycorrhiza, which describes the symbiotic association between plants and a specialized root fungus, plays an important role in enhancing plant performance and growth.

Through this mutually beneficial relationship, mycorrhizal fungi colonize plants roots, enabling the roots to access nutrients and water that may otherwise be unavailable to plants.

Mike Amaranthus, founder of Mycorrhizal Applications, which focuses on the research and development of mycorrhizal inoculum for commercial use, explains exactly how these beneficial fungi work, and how you can use them to help improve overall plant health and increase yields.

What Are Mycorrhizae And How Do They Work?
According to Amaranthus, the relationship between mycorrhizae and plant roots has been active for approximately 460 million years, and between 85% to 90% of plants form this relationship in their natural habitat.

“It’s one of those relationships where both the plant and the fungus benefit,” Amaranthus says. “The mycorrhizae benefit the plant in allowing it to access nutrients and water that are essential for the plant’s performance and growth. In turn, the fungus depends on the plant for sugars from the plant roots, which give it the energy it needs to grow into the soil.”

The fungi act as “roots of the roots” and are fine threads that grow off of the roots themselves, Amaranthus says. They are especially important in the uptake of phosphorous, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, and other key micronutrients that may be bound up organically or on soil particles.

Weed, Disease, And Drought Benefits
Not all plants form mycorrhizal associations, including crops such as kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, canola, mustard, and sugar beets. But on the plus side, some of the world’s worst weeds do not form mycorrhizal associations either, Amaranthus says.

“Weeds come in following a disturbance in the soil, and disturbances knock out the mycorrhizae. Without mycorrhizae, the weeds get a competitive advantage and are better able to access phosphorous in the soil. If mycorrhizal fungi are established, you can help starve weeds of phosphorous,” he explains.

Regarding disease resistance, Amaranthus says that like many other fungi, mycorrhizae produce antibiotics, which are capable of deterring root pathogens. They also have the capacity to selectively transport salt and toxic compounds away from plant roots.

“They depend on the roots for their energy source, so they want to keep the roots healthy, active, and growing. For this reason, the salt and the toxic compounds don’t get translocated to their cells,” he says.

Mycorrhizae’s benefits include drought protection due to roots’ improved ability to extend further into the soil to access water.

“Mycorrhizal roots are a lot spongier because they can get more water out of the soil, and they store them in specialized cells. They’re also much thinner so they can get into the small spaces in the soil where water is being held,” Amaranthus says.

A study Amaranthus conducted that was repeated by the University of California, Davis in 2013 showed almond trees inoculated with mycorrhizae experienced a 60% reduction in plant moisture stress.

“Some of the studies have demonstrated six or seven days of growth in drought situations,” he says.

Application Methods
Mycorrhizae can be applied to the soil in granular, powder, and liquid forms.

“We grow the seeds of the mycorrhizae, or what we call propagules. Mycorrhizal inoculums come in powder or granular forms. Growers can add water to the powder and add mycorrhizae in the liquid form near the seed, they can coat the seed with the powder, which puts the inoculum right where the roots come out of the seed, or they can band the granular material in furrow,” Amaranthus says.

To maintain populations, he says that any practice that fosters root growth will foster mycorrhizal development. Mycorrhizal development is most rapid when soil temperatures are between 40°F to 70°F and when soil fertility levels are moderate. Fumigation eradicates mycorrhizal development and re-inoculation should be at least two weeks following fumigants.

“With mycorrhizae, the bottom line for the end user is that they can get improved yields with less inputs. It’s a win-win situation,” Amaranthus says. “There’s an opportunity to save money, and it improves the efficiency of the plant’s ability to feed itself.”

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COPYRIGHT 2016 Growing Produce

The Dirt on Biodiversity: Mycorrhizal fungi essential to healthy vineyard soil

By Jessica Cortell (excerpt from Oregon Wine Press)

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How often do we contemplate the biodiversity of soils and what it means to healthy vineyards and for that matter, a healthy planet? The main four components of soil are water, air, minerals and organic matter. The organic component of soil is around 3 to 10 percent in Willamette Valley soils but is often overlooked in its importance.

Living soil microorganisms are less than 5 percent of the total organic component. Soils are among the most diverse ecosystem on Earth. Soil biodiversity includes all organisms living in the soil, which can be broken down into macro, mesa and micro-fauna. They can also be organized by the functions they perform in the soil. Without us paying much attention, this multitude of organisms is carrying out many important functions right under our very own feet.

The soil microorganisms can be regarded as the “biological engine of the earth.” They are involved in most of the key functions soil provides such as nutrient uptake, nutrient cycling, soil aggregate formation, degradation of pollutants, suppression of soil-borne diseases and regulation of plant communities. Also, soil microbial processes play key roles in mediating global climate change.

What about in vineyards? What roles do these organisms play and what practices are detrimental to them? About 20 years ago, many vineyards in Oregon had the “scorched earth” look where all vegetation but the vines were killed with herbicides. Luckily, the industry has come a long way since then in understanding, improving and maintaining soil biodiversity in vineyards.

When it comes to microbes, it is all about relationships. Here we will focus on a relationship between the grapevine and a specific type of fungi. The surface area that can be explored is the key to water and nutrient uptake by grapevine roots. While large roots anchor the vine and medium roots store nutrients, the fine roots are responsible for uptake. Better yet, grapevines have co-evolved for thousands of years with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi to assist with nutrient uptake. Fossil evidence suggests that this mutually beneficial relationship with plants appeared around 400 to 600 million years ago when plants were first colonizing land.

These fungi have a relationship with grapevines in which they trade carbohydrates from the vine’s roots for improvements in uptake of water and nutrients. The fungus actually lives inside the root and forms a fungal structure known as an arbuscule inside the root cells. Arbuscules are tree-shaped structures that are responsible for nutrient exchange between the plant and the fungus. The fungus has an extensive network of hyphae outside of the root to absorb water and nutrients.

This fungal relationship has many benefits for the grapevine, including the ability to explore and take up nutrients from a greater soil volume, the hyphae have a greater ability to take up phosphorus, the hyphae can explore smaller soil pores and the hyphae can help support healthy soil aggregation for aeration and movement of water in the soil pores.

Mycorrhizal fungi play an important role in the uptake of phosphorus. Phosphorus is important in phosphate groups in ATP and ADP, which is the energy currency used by plants and animals. In general, phosphorus levels are quite low in Willamette Valley soils, and the amount of phosphorus in the soil solution is extremely low. In addition, phosphorus movement in the soil is very slow. As plants need to take up inorganic phosphate from the soil solution, it is surprising grapevines are able to pull up much phosphorus at all. However, it is the fungi that make it happen.

Even more fascinating is that the fungal hyphae can create an extensive network and connect roots on multiple vines and other species of plants. In one study, it was shown that fungal hyphae could connect the grapevines to the cover crop growing in a vineyard and minerals were found to move via the hyphae highway from the cover crop to the grapevines (Baumgartner, 2006). This helps explain how phosphorus even at low levels in the soil can move into the vine.

Improvements in phosphorus uptake have added benefits of improving drought tolerance in grapevines. One way mycorrhizal uptake of phosphorus helps is in allowing the grapevine roots to grow deep in the soil profile to take up water instead of growing shallow near the surface searching for phosphorus.

As far as practical applications in the vineyard, growers can encourage AM fungi by planting cover crops of mixed legumes and grasses or other species (except mustards as they are detrimental) and doing minimal cultivation of the cover crops in order to minimize disruption of the hyphae. In one study, mycorrhizal colonization increased from 4.7 percent in conventional management to 15.9 percent under organic management. Synthetic phosphorus fertilizers were found to be detrimental to AM fungi. Most Oregon vineyards plant cover crops regardless of the production system and use minimal amounts of synthetic fertilizers.

For new plantings, using field-grown vines are preferred as they will already have associations with mycorrhizae fungi. For potted vines grown in sterile media, they could be inoculated at planting but another approach is to grow a cover crop in the soil prior to planting the vines so the AM fungi will already be present in the soil and can colonize the young vines quickly.

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COPYRIGHT 2015 Oregon Wine Press


Australian Potato Trials with MycoApply Mycorrhizal Inoculum

Attached you will find some recent potato data with MycoApply in Australia. Potato continues to be proven performer for MycoApply. Obviously there was a strong 20-30% yield increase in the MycoApply treated plots. Of special interest with Potato (we have seen this in trials from 2011-2014) is the greatly improved yield per unit of P applied.

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MycoApply Improves Zinfandel Grape Harvest in Southern Oregon

Hello Dr. Mike,Rosellas-Vineyard-Winery-Wine-Tasting-Sign

Just wanted to follow up on our conversation regarding the application of Mycorrhizal Applications Mycorrhiza on our vineyard.  If I misuse the application of the word, I do apologize.  Mycorrhiza/Mycorrhizae/Mycorrhizal, it’s confusing!

We have a vineyard in Southern Oregon on the Missouri Flat Bench.  I am aware that you have done extensive soil testing in this area.  After showing you our Zinfandel, you thought that there was a hardpan layer preventing the vines from getting their roots deeper in the soils.

Due to the rocky soil and the fact that we Dry Farm, the Zinfandel, in particular, has always struggled.   So we took your advise and applied the first Mycorrhizae to all the soils in 2012.  Placing a tablespoon at the base of each plant and letting the Fall Rains wash it in to the roots. Then we applied the 2nd Mycorrhizae to the Zinfandel in Spring of 2014 and most recently the Spring of 2015 during the rains.

The upper block of Zinfandel is now on it’s 9th leaf.  We noticed a marked change after the first application in 2012.  The subsequent Spring of 2013, the vigor of the vines and the fruit set and were much improved.  So we set out to apply again in the Spring of 2014.  The vines did so well that in a heavy wind one entire row was blown over, trellis and all because it was so heavy with fruit!

Indeed, last year was a record year for growth the Zinfandel section of the vineyard, the rest of the vineyard has definitely benefitted,  and most notably in the Zin.  The girth of the trunks almost doubled.  They went from 3″ to about 6″.  We have again applied Mycorrhizae this Spring.  We look forward to watching the vines continue to survive.

We are entering a palpable drought.  It will affect us all.  I am so amazed at the symbiosis of these tiny little creatures with the root systems of plants.  I admire your knowledge and dedication to the production of this product.  We look forward to using it through the years.

Sandi Garoutte

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Almond Study and Drought Resistance

Establishing almond seedlings on sites where water is limiting will reduce the size and vigor of an orchard plantation and subsequently lengthen the period of time to almond production. This study found that almond seedlings inoculated with mycorrhizal inoculum exhibited a greater capacity to withstand drought conditions during early plant establishment. These findings suggest that on sites where rainfall is low or irrigation is intermittent, inoculating seedlings prior to planting in a nursery or orchard site would be beneficial.

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Better wheat harvests with MycoApply

As you know I am an organic wheat farmer here in Wyoming and we had one of driest and coldest winters on record. I used your MycoApply granular on my winter wheat and I am very pleased at what I am seeing. The root systems are noticeably stronger and deeper. The crop definitely established better than my neighbors wheat. We have the best looking wheat in ten miles. The mycorrhizae are making a noticeable difference in the health and vigor of my crop. I’m sold on your MycoApply product and will be needing 5,000 pounds for my next planting.

Sincerely, Stan Mosher
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Dairy farms and MycoApply

Looks like the top field on the Stotz Dairy here in Arizona inoculated with MycoApply yielded an additional 300lbs of lint compared to the lower field. I also did not rood the upper field and had one rood module on the lower field. They were not the same varieties, but the lower field dp 1032 has been considered a better variety by our monsanto rep….Good results. We should try some more of the fungi this year.

Zach Gingg
General Agriculture
Crop Consultant

MycoApply increases shallot yields

I planted Crawford Shallots in a side by side growth trial with MycoApply Endo Granular side dressed at a rate of 2 pounds per acre at sowing The average size in the MycoApply inoculated treated area was 4 ounces compared to an average size of 2 ounces without the treatment.  The color was better for the trial on the treated shallots.  I also notice I used less water to irrigate all the produce in the field.  The area was a very low input soil so we were very surprised at the size of the shallots and the treated yields!

Loretta Sandoval- Farm Advisor
Dixon, New Mexico

Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc. takes a hands on approach to customer service

I have had dealings with a company named Mycorrhizal Applications Inc. and I can honestly say that there has always been a level of excellent customer service and helpful advice that has never wavered from the first instance I had contact with them from day one. Of course they are much bigger now and no doubt turning into another corporate big boy, but from what I still experience in dealing with them, their personal hands-on touch has never been lost. I had originally made contact with them through references from Mike Evans co-owner of one of my favourite Cal-Native Plant sources called Tree of Life Native Plants Nursery. He told me they had an excellent mycorrhizal mix that he had ever used for Manzanitas which can be touchy for many folks to grow and care for if they are unfamilar to the plants needs.  Mycorrhizal Applications Inc’s new website is very flash and sophisticated. Compare it to the simple generic original and you wouldn’t know it was the same site. The owner of the company is Mike Amaranthus and he use to have a Ask Dr Mike feature which has long since been eliminated and I can understand why. They’ve grown tremendously and have taken on a fair amount other employees as his success has required a generous amount of backup in the form of larger staff.

They also now have a great number of distrbutors for which have helped them ease the workload from the company which is based in Grant Pass, Oregon. Incredibly, I have also had great dealings with a couple distributors or affiliates of theirs and found the same personable customer service and advice offerings. So apparently they also did their homework on just who was going to represent them in the global field. One of the things that hasn’t changed and folks should see for themselves is the educational program and simple common illustrations for educating and getting the average person excited about not only a better way or approach to successful gardening, landscaping, agriculture or environmental habitat restoration, but also the ability to reach a persons heart for deep down appreciation of just how things work in nature without alot of Intellect Speak to be boring and yet just enough of the right terminology to show the amount in depth understanding of their own proprietory technologies.

Timeless Environments Article

MycoApply Endo/Ecto Improves Garden Areas

WOW! Thanks so very much. I used the last endo ecto blend last year. The property was completely run down without shrubs or trees. Every tree is more tha double the size of the same species planted at the same time throughout the neighborhood. This year salsa garden and tomatoes just got powdered. Last year they went to 12 feet and a 4″X8’ raised bed produced 60 quarts of marinara for canning.

This was year two. I had no idea that I’d get this sort of response. Typically a big boy tomato would produce 4-5’ of vine. These spilled over by another 7 feet. Leading to the building of steel cages subsequent years.

Thanks again,