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Re: [SANET-MG] Microbe management: application of mycorrhyzal fungi in sustainable agriculture

Joel Gruver wrote:

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: Vol. 3, No. 10, pp. 533–539.
Microbe management: application of mycorrhyzal fungi in sustainable agriculture
Miranda M Hart,a and Jack T Trevorsa
aDepartment of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1 (mhart@uoguelph.ca)

There is an increasing need to find alternatives to high-intensity agriculture. Intensively managed agrosystems are inefficient and lead to reduced ecosystem functioning and environmental degradation. These effects are predicted to magnify under the warmer, drier climate of the future. Plant growth-promoting microbes promise to replace or supplement many destructive, high-intensity practices. Symbiotic fungi, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in particular, may be useful in agrosystems, but their use has languished for decades. The benefits of using AMF are undeniable, so why haven't they been incorporated into cropping systems? Research shows that AMF functioning may be much more complex than previously thought. Until we can elucidate their functional variation, and classify it on a useful taxonomic level, practical applications of AMF cannot move forward.

Once this is done wouldn't it be worthwhile developing strategies for reducing water loss from evaporation and runoff. A system that includes biomass production for mulching crop acreage plus notill drill into living mulch would be as radical as using symbiotic fungi as a standardized farming method. Setting aside acreage, in rotation, for growing hay crops for mulch or plowdown for augmenting soil organic matter would make a huge difference in controlling moisture loss while providing a more favorable environment for beneficial soil fungi. Mulching large crop acreage can be accomplished by growing hay crops on land newly fertilized with manures. The hay can be cut and round baled for application in strips on rows or beds or between rows or beds, or both, with a tractor-mounted bale unroller. Accompanying this, altering tillage and seedbed formation techniques might allow innovative, intensive production methods to be used. Large raised beds with furrows between them cut below grade, heavily mulched, would provide an ideal environment for beneficial soil microorganisms. Beds like this could be semi permanent, tilled only when mulch has broken down, maybe every few years, or never - only re-mulched, and drill planted. New harvesting machinery could be developed to handle raised bed cropping.


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