Researchers Are Working On Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) As An Alternative to Fertilisers and Pesticides? Is This Too Star Trek For Gardeners? This Article Explores How Fungi Could Feed & Protect Plants.

A large-scale European field trial has shown promising results for using mycorrhizal fungi as an alternative to conventional fertilisers and pesticides on farms. It sounds a bit like science fiction, but so did a lot of what we do today a century ago.

What Are Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF)?

They are beneficial fungi which form a symbiotic relationship with plants, creating an extensive network that enhances nutrient and water uptake. While AMF are readily available for home gardeners, large-scale application in agriculture has faced challenges.

21 Fungi Facts that amaze people.
21 Fungi Facts that amaze people.

I have reservations about what is currently available for gardeners. I’m not convinced all the companies selling them really understand enough about the topic. BUT I believe we are at the beginning of a plant growing revolution as big as the Green Revolution of the early 20th century.

Previous research on AMF has been mixed, with unpredictable or even negative results. However, this new study conducted across 54 maize farms in Switzerland paints a different picture.

The findings, published in Nature Microbiology, revealed:

  • In some cases, AMF inoculation led to remarkable yield increases of up to 40%.
  • The effectiveness varied, with no improvement or even slight yield reduction in some plots.
  • Interestingly, AMF performed best in fields already harboring fungal pathogens. The fungi acted as a shield, protecting plants from harmful microbes.

While these results are encouraging, researchers caution against hasty generalisations.

  • AMF may not be universally beneficial, offering limited advantages in healthy, pathogen-free soil.
  • Large-scale application presents logistical challenges, requiring further research on efficient mass production of AMF inoculum.
  • Personally I suspect there is no one inoculum that will suit all plants. It is more likely that we will need to produce a tailored one for each crop and that it will depend on analysing the existing microbes first.

Future outlook:

Despite the need for further investigation, this study sheds light on the potential of AMF as a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional agricultural practices.

Impressive Results From AMF

There’s a lot of research to be carried out and, as previously stated, sometimes the results Arte negative. But with a few more years of research I think we will recognise that ..

  • AMF can significantly boost crop yields under specific conditions.
  • They offer additional benefits beyond nutrient uptake, acting as natural plant protectors.
  • More research is needed to optimize large-scale application and assess broader effectiveness across diverse crops and environments.

Experts such as Felipe Albornoz, who has 37 research papers to his name, sees promise in AMF research. He emphasises their potential not just for yield improvement, but also for ecosystem restoration and overall soil health.

The future of sustainable agriculture and small scale growing, even at allotment level, may be rooted in harnessing the power of these remarkable fungi.

I’ve written many other articles on fungi, including 21 Fungal Facts That Fascinate People.

AMF Research Sources

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Felipe-Albornoz-2

Tag: AMF Fungi

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