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[SANET-MG] Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and organic farming
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Article in Press
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and organic farming
P. Goslinga, , , A. Hodgeb, G. Goodlassc and G.D. Bendinga
Symbiotic associations between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and plant
roots are widespread in the natural environment and can provide a range
of benefits to the host plant. These include improved nutrition,
enhanced resistance to soil-borne pests and disease, improved resistance
to drought, tolerance of heavy metals and better soil structure. Many
agricultural crops are mycorrhizal and there is widespread if equivocal
evidence that crop plants benefit from the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM)
association in the same way. However, many agricultural practices
including use of fertilisers and biocides, tillage, monocultures and the
growing of non-mycorrhizal crops are detrimental to arbuscular
mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). As a result, agroecosystems are impoverished in
AMF and may not provide the full range of benefits to the crop. Organic
farming systems may be less detrimental to AMF because they exclude the
use of water-soluble fertilisers and most biocides and generally have
diverse rotations. The evidence available suggests that this leads to
increased AMF inoculum in soils, greater crop colonisation and enhanced
nutrient uptake. AMF might therefore be able to substitute for reduced
fertiliser and biocide inputs in organic systems, though there is little
evidence for increased yield resulting from high rates of AMF
colonisation in organic systems. This review examines the benefits that
the AM association can have for agroecosystems and how farm management
practices influence the AM association. Management options that may be
employed to increase the benefits that AMF can bring to this type of
farming system, such as changes to the rotation and careful use of
tillage, are discussed.
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