When to use mycorrhizae and trichodermas?

Mycorrhizae and trichodermas are beneficial fungi for plants

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

It is possible that you are a little curious to know a little more about mycorrhizae and trichodermas. In this case, I recommend that you continue 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 for?

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

Before explaining when to use mycorrhizae and trichodermas, let's first clarify what they are, starting with mycorrhizae. It's basically about a symbiotic association between a fungus mycelium and the root of a vegetable. In this way, both will grow in symbiosis providing certain benefits to each other.

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

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

Type

When we talk about mycorrhizae, We can distinguish two types 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 the following:

  1. Endomycorrhizae: In this case, the fungus settles on the root of the vegetable. First it does so intercellularly and then it ends up penetrating inside the cells of the roots.
  2. Ectomycorrhizae: Unlike the endomycorrhizae, the hyphae of the ectomycorrhizae do not penetrate inside the roots of the plant, but instead invade the root system from the outside and create a type of mantle around the less thick roots.

How and when to use mycorrhizae?

Mycorrhizae should be applied shortly after post-transplantation

Partially answering the question of when to use mycorrhizae and trichodermas, let's first talk about mycorrhizae. The most advisable thing is to use them as soon as possible in what is the cycle of the plant, shortly after post-transplant for the mushrooms to establish themselves properly. We must allow the mycelium to establish itself in the roots between two and four weeks before applying other products, such as trichodermas.

Contrary to the latter, mycorrhizae are not applied in irrigation, but rather in nursery and transplants manually or automatically. Of course, we must take into account that the level of organic matter of the soil in question greatly determines the installation of the mycelium, the more there is, the better. Let's see the amounts:
  • horticultural crops (Hydroponics, greenhouses or outdoors): 3kg/ha from the seventh day after transplanting.
  • Strawberries and other berries: 3kg/ha from the twentieth day after the transplant.
  • woody crops (vine, olive grove, subtropical and tropical, stone and pip fruit trees, citrus, etc.) youths: 2kg/ha.
  • Woody crops in production: 3kg/ha.
For woody crops, it is important to apply mycorrhizae at the beginning of budding, if they are deciduous crops, or at the end of winter, if they are perennial crops.

Benefits in cultivation

As we have already mentioned before, both fungus and plant benefit from each other through a symbiotic relationship. While the mycelia obtain the sugars they need, the plants will see increased nutrient reserves to be able to grow and develop correctly. Nevertheless, These are not the only benefits that vegetables obtain. We will list them below:

  • Better absorption of nutrients and water.
  • Greater tolerance to saline soils and periods of drought.
  • Increased resistance against attacks by other pathogenic fungi that cause diseases.
  • Soil enrichment.
  • Better plant growth thanks to optimal root development.

What are trichodermas and what are they for?

Trichodermas bring many benefits to plants

Now that we know something more about mycorrhizae, it is the turn of trichodermas. What are they? What are they for? Well, they are a type of anaerobic fungus belonging to the genus Trichoderma spp.. Like mycelia, trichodermas are also very common in agricultural soils around the world. In addition, we can also find these fungi in manure and on fallen logs. They are very versatile, versatile and beneficial for the plant kingdom. They provide many advantages at the agricultural level, which we will discuss later.

Although it is true that they are very beneficial for plants, we should not confuse trichodermas with mycorrhizae. The only thing they have in common is that they are part of the kingdom of fungi. The main difference that distinguishes both species that trichodermas do not depend on the roots of vegetables to live, but they do feed on other fungi found in the rhizosphere. Remember that mycorrhizae survive thanks to the symbiotic association they make with plant roots.

We can also differentiate both types of fungi 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 nourish themselves.

How and when is trichoderma used?

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

But when should we do it? We can apply these mushrooms once the transplant has been carried out or on the vegetables transplanted into a container. The most advisable thing 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 products that are commonly used recommend subsequent applications at specific times.

Before using trichodermas, it is important that we bear in mind that the soil should contain at least 1% organic matter, but ideally it should be greater than 2%. Otherwise, trichodermas will have a very difficult time colonizing the soil due to lack of food. When soils lack organic matter, they tend to be highly mineralized, so there are hardly any fungi on which trichodermas can feed.

Benefits in cultivation

Trichodermas feed on other fungi

Like mycorrhizae, trichodermas also bring many benefits to plants and consequently 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 quickly and that it generates many inducible enzymes in the presence of other fungi that are pathogenic for plants.

As trichoderma is also able to grow on many different substrates under various conditions, it is very easy to mass produce it for agricultural use. This fungus has a great tolerance to extreme environmental conditions. For this reason, it is an excellent control agent, since it lives in the same places as the fungi that cause diseases 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 recovery or bioremediation.

Apart from all these advantages that trichoderma brings, there is more. Next we will list all the benefits that this fungus brings to crops:

  • Stimulates the growth of vegetables.
  • Protects the seeds against other pathogenic fungi.
  • It provides direct protection to the land and the land of different crops, since it proliferates in the soil.
  • It has antibiotic powers.
  • It serves as an agent for the biodegradation of agrochemicals.
  • It is a viable alternative to save pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
  • It can be used in substrates that are used under zeoponic and hydroponic conditions.
  • It is a zero waste biological system, respectful for the environment and harmless to humans.
 All these advantages of mycorrhizae and trichodermas make them essential microorganisms for crops. Its value is incalculable at the agricultural level. However, it is very important that we bear 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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