What? Do fungi benefit your trees?
Not just any fungus, though. We are discussing mycorrhizal fungi.
To find out more about mycorrhizal fungi, check this post out.
A fascinating class of microscopic organisms known as mycorrhizal fungus has been helping plants for at least 500 million years. They develop a symbiotic connection with trees and other plants, acting as an extension of the feeder roots to allow the plants to absorb 100–1,000 times more water and nutrients.
These fungus are actual live things. They coexist with the plant and supply it with nutrients continuously throughout its whole life, making them a fully sustainable plant nutrition solution.
It should come as no surprise that 90% of all terrestrial plants, including your trees, use this relationship to increase the nutrient-delivery capacity of their own root systems.
How Mycorrhizal Fungi Help
Only the soil within the tree’s rhizosphere can provide nutrients to the tree (the area surrounding their roots). Only a tenth of an inch of this region is visible from the roots.
Beyond that 1/10 inch, all fertilizer, compost, water, and other soil amendments are useless since the tree cannot absorb them.
This is where mycorrhizae are useful. They spread out from the tree roots in the form of hypha, which are protracted, root-like stringy webs that return to the rhizosphere any nutrients or water the tree needs. The tree gives the fungi its carbon and sugars in return.
A secondary “root system” that is significantly more effective and widespread than the tree’s original root system is effectively provided by the fungus, enabling the tree to obtain more nutrients. Numerous kilometres of mycorrhizal filaments can be found in only one tablespoon of excellent soil!
Healthy Soil Encourages Mycorrhizal Fungi
Few mycorrhizae are likely to be present in soil that has been heavily tilled, heavily compacted, treated with high quantities of synthetic pesticides, repeatedly tilled, or heavily weeded. As a result, trees and other plants growing there will struggle to acquire the nutrients they need to keep healthy.
To create a robust colony of mycorrhizal fungus around the roots of your trees, use compost tea treatments, deep root fertilization, composting on top of the soil, and inoculation with mycorrhizal spores (yes, you can buy them!).
Consider placing mycorrhizae in the planting hole while transplanting a tree.