Mycorrhiza Proves Valuable in Qatar’s Saline Soils

Is the fungus Micorrhiza a panacea?

It seems to make possible what might seem impossible, like growing vegetables in the inhospitable saline soils of Qatar. Calling it cheap with huge potential, scientists in Qatar used this naturally occurring soil fungus by mass producing it in labs and then adding it to soil to grow healthy, nutrient rich vegetables like corn, radishes, tomatoes, and also wheat. The crops grown were nutrient rich, like those grown on much better arable land. These plants were grown where salinity was greater than the sea one meter beneath the soil surface.

Micorrhiza, or root-fungus, increases the fruit and flowering of plants while improving soil quality and reducing the need for water and fertilizer. It is organic, natural, and chemical free.

When the right type of Micorrhiza is added to soils, it is capable of reducing water needs by 25 percent. It reduces the need for fertilizer, enables plants to be grown in salty or contaminated soils, and increases the temperature stress tolerance of plants. It does so by working symbiotically with plants. It attaches to the roots and forms root exudates or arbuscules, with finely branched hyphae which allow for an amplified exchange of nutrients between the soil and the plant. It greatly enhances the uptake of phosphorus and it protects the plant roots from disease pathogens. It is possible for a plant with the fungus present on its roots to uptake 100 times as many nutrients as a plant without the fungus. Certain types of Mycorrhiza are also key to storing carbon in the soil.

If you are a gardener and want to promote the growth of your own garden soil network of Mycorrhiza, add compost, don’t use synthetic chemicals, do minimum tillage, rotate your crops, and grow cover crops. By cold composting, or mulching your garden with shredded leaves each fall, you can promote optimal Mycorrhizal fungi growth.

The benefits provided by Mycorrhiza appear to be just what we need as we search for farming methods which enhance heat and drought stress resistance in plants to grow crops which are more resilient in a world with a changing climate. Food security experts today are advocating regional food independence as the ultimate solution to food insecurity. But many food insecure regions lack quality soils in which to grow crops. This fungus could allow for bringing poorer quality land back into cultivation.

Perhaps it is not a panacea, but utilizing Mycorrhiza more fully could be a big help in feeding the world this coming century.

To see the Qatar Mycorrhiza story from Al Jazeera, watch the 2.5-minute video, below.

9 thoughts on “Mycorrhiza Proves Valuable in Qatar’s Saline Soils

  1. Nilgun

    What a great article! We should be trying this in Nebraska.
    I’ve been teaching composting classes as a Master Gardener, and while I’ve mentioned soil bacteria and fungi, I think this film would be even more convincing. Is it available to use?

    Reply
  2. K. McDonald Post author

    Thanks for all of the comments, everyone! This is an important subject so I plan to do some more posts on it. I want to interview those in the know about its application to conventional farming, as I understand it is or has been tried. There are sources online for the fungus if you look. Also, I have one reader here who is devoting his life’s work to getting something out there and available soon utilizing this fungus, hopefully with the help of a high level investor & I’d like to think my site played a part in facilitating the connection.

    I first found out about using this fungus in gardening several years ago, from a couple of the top gardeners in my county who believe in it. Another one of them, who I hope to post about soon, believes strongly in the cold mulching mentioned above. I’d assume she’d be wasting her money to additionally inoculate her soil.

    This fungus is probably one of the reasons that it takes about four or five years to convert a conventional farm to an organic one in waiting for yields to catch up after the conversion.

    Nilgun, can you just stream the video online for your class?

    Reply
  3. Mikeb

    Yes, fine stuff, that fungus. But:

    “It is organic, natural, and chemical free.”

    What’s “natural” about growing a fungus in a lab and then putting it into “inhospitable” soils to grow plants that don’t occur there naturally?

    This is just one issue I have with “organic” ideology: Selective thinking.

    No soil is “chemical free.” All soils are composed of chemicals.

    So what if something is “natural?” Mycotoxins are also natural.

    This piece just feeds the false dichotomy between “organic” and “conventional” that is ruining farming.

    Reply
    1. Nazmul

      Use resident mycorrhiza not commercial inoculant, this has huge difference of efficacyy our study in Canada telling this. Thanks

      Reply
  4. Richard Self

    Very interesting – Mike Hedley is a New Zealand Soil scientist who has done a lot of research on use of mycorrhizal associations with pasture plants and ability to access phosphate and other nutrients.

    Reply

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