Mycorrhizae and trichoderma: what they are, how and when to use them, benefits

Mycorrhizae and trichoderms are beneficial fungi for plants

If you know a little about the agricultural world, you have surely heard of mycorrhizae and trichoderma at some point, but do you know what it is? Even if it looks like a lie, These are two mushrooms very popular with farmers. They bring many benefits to crops. Of course, you have to know how and when to use them.

You may be a little curious to know a little more about mycorrhizae and trichoderma. In that case, I recommend that you keep reading. We’ll explain what exactly they are, what their benefits are, and how and when to use them. This information can also be very useful for small gardeners.

What are mycorrhizae and what are they used for?

Mycorrhizae a symbiotic association that occurs between a fungus mycelium and the root of a vegetable

Before explaining when to use mycorrhizae and trichodermata, let’s first clarify what they are, starting with mycorrhizae. It is basically a symbiotic association that occurs between a mushroom mycelium and the root of a vegetable. In this way, the two will develop in symbiosis, providing certain advantages for each other.

But how is it possible for a fungus to benefit a plant? Well, this is responsible for absorbing both water and nutrients present in the soil. Besides, protects the roots from certain diseases. As for the plant, it provides the fungus mycelium with the amino acids, sugar and other substances it needs, thanks to the process of photosynthesis. Later, we’ll discuss what additional ways the two lifestyles benefit from each other.

If that still sounds like a strange combination to you, I’ll give you a fact that confirms the good relationship between vegetables and mushrooms: Today, at least 90% of all terrestrial vegetation has mycorrhizae. In other words: Almost all land plants are in symbiosis with fungi.

Types

When we talk about mycorrhizae, Two types can be distinguished according to the relationship they establish the hyphae, which are microscopic filaments of the fungus, with the cells belonging to the roots of the plant. They are:

  1. Endomycorrhizae: In this case, the fungus settles on the root of the vegetable. It does this first intercellularly, then it eventually penetrates inside the cells of the roots.
  2. Ectomycorrhizae: Unlike endomycorrhizae, the hyphae of ectomycorrhizae do not penetrate inside the roots of the plant, but rather invade the root system from the outside and create a kind of mantle around the less thick roots.

How and when to use mycorrhiza?

Mycorrhizae should be applied shortly after transplantation

Partially answering the question of when to use mycorrhiza and trichoderma, let’s first talk about mycorrhiza. The most advisable is to use them as soon as possible in what is the cycle of the plant, soon after the transplant for the fungi to establish properly. The mycelium should be allowed to establish in the roots for two to four weeks before applying other products, such as trichoderma.

Unlike the latter, mycorrhizae are not applied as irrigation, but rather in the nursery and manual or automatic transplanting. Of course, it must be taken into account that the level of organic matter in the soil in question greatly determines the establishment of the mycelium, the more the better. Let’s see the amounts:

  • horticultural crops (hydroponics, greenhouses or open air): 3 kg/ha from the seventh day after transplanting.
  • Strawberries and other berries: 3kg/ha from the twentieth day after transplanting.
  • woody crops (vineyard, olive grove, subtropical and tropical, stone and pome fruit trees, citrus fruits, etc.) youth: 2 kg/ha.
  • Woody crops in production: 3 kg/ha.

For woody crops, it is important to apply mycorrhiza at the beginning of bud burst, in the case of deciduous crops, or at the end of winter, in the case of perennial crops.

Advantages in cultivation

As we have already mentioned before, fungi and plants benefit from each other through a symbiotic relationship. As the mycelia get the sugars they need, the plants will see their nutrient reserves increase so they can grow and develop properly. However, These are not the only benefits vegetables get. Let’s list them below:

  • Better absorption of nutrients and water.
  • Better tolerance to saline soils and periods of drought.
  • Increased resistance against attack by other disease-causing pathogenic fungi.
  • Soil enrichment.
  • Better plant growth thanks to optimal root development.

What are trichoderms and what are they used for?

Trichoderms bring many benefits to plants

Now that we know a little more about mycorrhizae, it’s the turn of trichoderma. Which are? What are they for? Well, they are a type of anaerobic fungus belonging to the genus Trichoderma spp.. Like mycelia, trichoderms are also very common in agricultural soils around the world. Additionally, these fungi can also be found in manure and on fallen logs. They are very versatile, versatile and beneficial to the plant kingdom. They offer many advantages at the agricultural level, which we will discuss later.

While it is true that they are very beneficial to plants, trichoderms should not be confused with mycorrhizae. The only thing they have in common is that they are part of the mushroom kingdom. The main difference that distinguishes the two species that trichoderms do not depend on the roots of plants to live, but they feed on other fungi found in the rhizosphere. Remember that mycorrhizae survive thanks to the symbiotic association they form with the roots of plants.

We can also differentiate the two types of mushrooms by the function they perform. In the case of trichoderma, these play a more defensive role against other pathogens such as bacteria, nematode fungi, etc. Mycorrhizae, on the other hand, help plants to feed themselves.

How and when is trichoderma used?

When applying trichoderms, it is best to do it by irrigation and in a staggered manner. We can do this using hoses, manual irrigation devices or localized irrigation systems. Another form of application is mixing with organic matter, such as manure or compost. Before applying the trichoderms, we must first hydrate the product that contains them with water for a few minutes and shake.

But when should we do it? These mushrooms can be applied after transplanting or on vegetables transplanted in pots. The most advisable is to do it from the first days after the transplant, before 15 have passed. Regarding the dose, this will depend on the strain and the colony forming units (CFU). Some commonly used products recommend subsequent applications at certain times.

Before using trichoderms, it is important to keep in mind that the soil should contain at least 1% organic matter, but ideally it should be more than 2%. Otherwise, trichoderms will have great difficulty colonizing the soil due to lack of food. When soils lack organic matter, they tend to be highly mineralized, so there are virtually no fungi for trichoderms to feed on.

Advantages in cultivation

Trichoderms feed on other fungi

Like mycorrhizae, trichoderms also bring many benefits to plants and therefore also to crops. Among the most notable for the agricultural sector is its use as biological control agent. It should be noted that this type of fungus grows and develops very rapidly and generates many inducible enzymes in the presence of other plant pathogenic fungi.

Since trichoderma is also able to grow on many different substrates under various conditions, it is very easy to mass-produce it for agricultural purposes. This fungus has a high tolerance to extreme environmental conditions. For this reason, it is an excellent control agent, as it lives in the same places as fungi that cause disease in plants. Besides, trichoderma has the ability to survive high levels of pesticides and other chemicals. For this reason, it is an ideal option for intensive agricultural models that require soil reclamation or bioremediation.

Apart from all these benefits that trichoderma brings, there are more. Then we will list all the benefits that this mushroom brings to crops:

  • Stimulates the growth of vegetables.
  • Protects seeds against other pathogenic fungi.
  • It provides direct protection to soil and land from different crops, as it proliferates in the soil.
  • It has antibiotic powers.
  • It serves as a biodegradation agent for agrochemicals.
  • It is a viable alternative to save pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
  • It can be used in substrates used in zeoponic and hydroponic conditions.
  • It is a zero waste biological system, environmentally friendly and harmless to humans.

All these advantages of mycorrhizae and trichoderma make them essential microorganisms for crops. Its value is incalculable at the agricultural level. However, it is very important that we keep in mind that these two types of fungi are not enough to control and eradicate diseases long-term. The best we can do is opt for various methods to keep our crops healthy.

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