Benifical Fungi Reduces Need For Plant Irrigation By 40%

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Strawberry growers could reduce irrigation inputs by up to 40 per cent while still maintaining yields, by inoculating their plants with naturally-occurring beneficial soil-dwelling fungi, researchers at Kent’s East Malling Research (EMR) have found.

Two different species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, or the two in combination, gave similar beneficial results over the control plants in trials by a team that was led by University of Kent PhD student Louisa Robinson-Boyer.

“While it has been long-known that these beneficial fungi can have positive effects on plant nutrient uptake, protect plants from infection by pathogens and buffer them against adverse environmental stresses, this work provides an opportunity to reduce irrigation by 40 per cent and still retain required growth and yield outputs,” she said.

“Working with these fascinating fungi has great potential to address some of the future food security challenges being raised by climate change. This work will greatly assist with future sustainable food production – maintaining yields while reducing inputs.”

The results are published in the Mycorrhiza journal. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi occur in most ecosystems, but their levels are much decreased across intensive agricultural systems, mainly due to soil tillage and the use of fertilisers.

ARTICLE LINK: http://www.hortweek.com/fungi-reduce-need-irrigation-inputs/edibles/article/1312311

STUDY LINK: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00572-014-0603-6

Author: Andrew

My name's Andrew Towell, I’m 32 years of age and I was born and live in a coastal town called Hartlepool located in the North East of England. The idea behind starting the blog is for me to research sustainable living practices, I enjoy growing plants so their will be an emphasis on organic food production.

2 thoughts on “Benifical Fungi Reduces Need For Plant Irrigation By 40%”

  1. Actually water retention has dropped so much and fertilizer leakage as well as top-soil erosion increased in the samer proportion world-wide, because fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides tend to totally destroy the usually very biodiverse soil life. Normal smapling and laboratory methods do not measure diversity but general amounts of living matter in a volume of soil, be it made up of just an ounce of one species alone or of millions of species. And people cannot see microscopic organisms, so they take “soil health” at face value. But reintroducing the original biodiversity, maybe even enhancing it, might also have prevented or mitigated such things as the current California drought!

    1. Thanks for the comment, I completely agree with you. Most people are unaware of how much is actually going on in the “soil food web” beneath their feet.

      I think for starters incorporating organic matter (any form of it) back into the soil would play a major part in increasing moisture retention. Things like Biochar could also play a part in moisture retention too (on the right soils). Working with mulches on the soils surface also helps keep that moisture locked in. Watering with compost teas would massively increase these beneficial organisms as well, helping us through periods of drought, I can imagine they would work excellent to introduce just as your first planting out. All of these products are also multifunctional and help with things like reducing nutrient leeching/run off.

      As far as I can tell organic farms with high levels of organic matter don’t really suffer the ill effects of drought as others might. Also small amounts of drip irrigation (if feasible) help massively and use so much less water than conventional methods. Obviously these bacterias likely play just as much as a role as the actual matter its self.

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