Growth Products, Ltd: Horticulture

Putting Nature to Work with Mycorrhizal Technology

December 2017

Mycorrhizal fungi are naturally occurring, soil-dwelling fungi. These fungi form a mutualistic relationship with the roots of almost all plants. In combination with beneficial bacteria, you can give your plants the one-two-punch toward more healthy and beautiful landscapes.

How They Work

Mycorrhizal fungi have been on earth for millions of years, but only recently have soil scientists been able to understand the myriad ways these tiny organisms benefit plants. – and how these microorganisms can be successfully added to soils to make landscapes healthier and more beautiful, and agricultural properties more productive.

When applied to soils, mycorrhizal fungi attach to plant roots in a symbiotic fashion that benefits both the fungi and the plants they associate with. The fungi feed off the sugars of the plant and send out long, thread-like filaments called hyphae. Being extremely thin, the filaments easily penetrate into thousands of tiny cracks or crevices in the soil, where they find otherwise inaccessible plant nutrients and create a larger surface area for nutrient absorption. These nutrients are then recycled back to the host plant for uptake.

Plants that have the advantage of a mycorrhizal “secondary root system” absorb more water and nutrients than similar plants growing in soils devoid of mycorrhizae. In fact, nutrient uptake can increase as much as 700% in soils where mycorrhizae populations are prevalent. Uptake of phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, in particularly, are increased, and mineral and water uptake are improved as well.

Mopping Up the Benefits

Mycorrhizal fungi are found, in abundance, in almost all undisturbed soils across the world. But urban soils, extensively plowed soils, and soils that have been subject to harsh chemical fungicides eventually lose all or most of these beneficial fungi. Plants growing in those depleted soils tend to have root systems that can be compared to the hard tines of a fork, but plants growing in soils rich with mycorrhizae have root systems with a thick, healthy, mop-like struct

Age-old advice of adding a shovel-full dirt from a forest floor, when planting trees or shrubs in an urban area, was meant to ensure that the soil was inoculated with beneficial microorganisms, including mutualistic mycorrhizal fungi, for the new planting– even though the term mycorrhizal was not commonly recognized at the time. Although mycorrhizae are as “old as dirt,’ the term “mycorrhiza” wasn’t coined until 1885, and did not come into popular usage until the 1980s. Most of what we know about mycorrhizae was discovered in the last 30 years, proving the saying that “everything old is new again.”

Recent scientific advances have allowed much fine-tuning to the old shovel-of-dirt approach when introducing beneficial fungi to improve urban soils. Agronomists now recognize two main types of mycorrhizae (endo and ecto), and know that to be effective, the mycorrhizae need to compatible with the type and species of trees, shrubs or crops being grown. Today, green industry professionals can take an easy, direct road to soil inoculation, for all soil, with Growth Products’ Landscaper’s BioNutrition™ 3-0-3 Granular or BioNutrients™ Total-Pak Injectable, and BioNutrients 8-0-9.

Landscaper’s BioNutrition Granular 3-0-3 and BioNutrients Total-Pak

are both 100% organic and contain a mix of endo and ectomycorrhizae that can successfully colonize themselves in a broad range of temperatures and soil conditions. In addition, these products contain kelp extracts, humic acids, a natural wetting agent, key carbohydrates, and a host of rhizosphere bacteria such as B. subtilis and B. licheniformis. BioNutrients 8-0-9 provides an exclusive combination of beneficial soil bacteria and fortified natural carriers and can be used in concert with our mycorrhizae products.

With their extensive benefits, these organically rich products have become favorite “go-to” tools for landscapers, arborists, and turf managers, both at initial planting and as part of a regular maintenance plan.