Dr Elaine Inghams ‘Soil Food Web’ Lectures

Take a look at this amazing resource I’ve just discovered, it’s Dr Elaine Inghams lessons on the soil food web, as well as creating your own composts and compost teas/extracts. The information contained hereinafter is often behind a paywall.

“Elaine Ingham, Chief Scientist at Rhodale Institute came to Hawi, Hawai’i in July 2012 to deliver a 5 day seminar dedicated to studying, understanding, and improving our soil biology to assist in ecologically sound agricultural practices. This is where I got my introduction to the microscope and learned much of it’s importance. This was some of the best 30 hours of class ever, and I often re-watch this epic series to refresh myself and discover more as I tune my own magnification of understanding this microscopic wonderland.” – Drake of Natural Farming Hawaii.

This presentation consists of 18 videos containing a total of 26 hours of footage. For information purposes the audio quality is a little poor and the presentation slides are slightly out of focus.

LINK: http://naturalfarminghawaii.net/learn-natural-farming/elaine-ingham-seminar/
PLAYLIST: https://youtu.be/a5Lbag-4Dew?list=PLEF3AC2CFE07692A4

Biochar Helps Combat Nematodes And Increases Yields

Carbongoldtom

A biochar-based soil improver, enriched with species of mycorrhizal fungi, actinomyces bacteria and trace elements is helping to combat the root-knot nematode – significantly increasing yields for organic tomato growers in Portugal.
Biochar is a highly porous, high carbon form of charcoal used to improve soil nutrition, growing conditions and soil structure. It is made from any waste woody biomass that has been charred at a low temperature with a restricted supply of oxygen, a process called pyrolysis. This process results in a stable form of carbon that is removed from the atmospheric carbon cycle when added as a soil amendment.

“Where we have incorporated Carbon Gold Soil Improver in the very sandy soil at our Portuguese nursery we have seen a 7% yield increase and a lower level of nematode infestation than areas that were not treated.” – Paul Howlett, Head of Agronomy at Vitacress Tomatoes

Vitacress Tomatoes (formerly Wight Salads) trialled Soil Association and SKAL approved enriched biochar from UK biochar company, Carbon Gold, from June 2013 to April 2014 in order to improve the sandy soils at their Portuguese nursery. They applied 2kg per square meter to a 5 hectare trial plot taken to a depth of 30cm, analysing the outcomes against a 5 hectare control area with the same crop.

The increase in crop yield was significant. By week 24 they realised a 7% higher yield, (an additional 0.9kg per m2) compared to the 5ha control plot. This equated to an additional 2,600kg Piccolo Cherry on the Vine tomatoes.

In the Vitacress trial plots it became evident that the colonies of mycorrhizal fungi, using biochar as a refuge in the soil, were able strike out at parasitic Meloidogyne nematodes, enticing and devouring the microscopic pests and protecting the plant roots from attack.
Continue reading “Biochar Helps Combat Nematodes And Increases Yields”

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.

Continue reading “Benifical Fungi Reduces Need For Plant Irrigation By 40%”

Symbiosis: Enforced Surrender?

Symbiosis Enforced Surrender

Scientists from INRA and Lorraine University in France unraveled a key mechanism in the symbiosis between fungi and trees. During this mutually beneficial interaction, the fungus takes control of its host plant by injecting a small protein that neutralizes its immune defenses thereby allowing the fungus to colonize the plant. This finding is a major advance in our understanding of the evolution and functioning of symbiotic interactions between fungi and plants – relationships that play a significant role in supporting the health and sustainability of our natural ecosystems.

In the complex world of the rhizosphere – the soil surrounding plant roots – thousands of species of bacteria and fungi compete for resources released by plants. Some fungi, such as truffles and boletus, are able to live in symbiosis with plants through their roots, by-passing their competitors to obtain sugars directly from their host.  In return, symbiotic fungi allow plant roots to absorb mineral nutrients; this improves the plant’s health, vigor and productivity. Mycorrhizal fungi are one class of symbiotic fungi that make their way to plant roots where they negotiate for housing and all-you-can-eat sugar services. But how does this negotiation play out?  Is the host plant able to distinguish between beneficial and parasitic fungi? How does the fungus avoid the plant’s immune defenses during the interaction?

Continue reading “Symbiosis: Enforced Surrender?”

Mycorrhizal Fungi Overview

Relatively short video talking all about Mycorrhizal fungi, from what it is to what it does. Interesting for those of you who want to get a good overview of what the processes are that these fungi utilise and how they form a symbiotic relationship with the plant.

My advice would be to inoculate the roots of your potted plants with these beneficial fungi/bacteria to give them a good protection for the period before they and transplanted into the ground/soil. Give them the best start in life they can get I say, get that good fungi in before the bad can get its foot in the door.