mycorrhizal fungi

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 The life in the soil is one of my favorite topics.  I think it’s importance in cropping system is grossly underestimated.  After all without the soil biology there would be no soil.  However complex the soil biology is I think that it is best left to mother nature to balance out this ecosystem. That is why we practice a no-till production system.  Lots of benefits come with preserving this soil life that you just can’t buy from the crop inputs supplier.  I strongly recommend that every person attempting to grow anything in soil find themselves as many publications about soil boilogy like this one from Univeristy of Minnesota Extension titled Soil Scientist.  The more you dig into this topic the more you appriciate the value of the soil life.  We will be posting great information on this topic.     

The Table Below was sourced from the University of Minnesota, Extension web site.  

Typical amt in ag soils
Action in soil
Usually one-celled
1 um (0.001 mm)
Organic matter, especially simple carbon compounds
100 mil. to 1 bil. in a teaspoon
Decompose organic matter. Immobilize nutrients in the rooting zone.
Rhizobium and other genera fix nitrogen from air.
Convert ammonium to nitrate, and nitrate to nitrogen gasses.
Actinomycetes, which grow as filaments, are important in decomposition at moderate-to-high pH.
Create substances that help bind soil aggregates.
Grow in long filaments calleed hyphae
A few um wie, yards or miles long
Organic matter, especially simple carbon compounds. Also, living plants
Several yards in a teaspoon
Decompose organic matter.
Immobilize nutrients in the rooting zone.
Mycorrhizal fungi form mutually beneficial associa- tions with roots. They release acids that help make phosphorus more available to plants.
Help stabilize soil aggregates.
One-celled animals
5-500 um
Bacteria, primarily
Several thousand in a teaspoon
Stimulate and control growth of bacteria.
Release ammonium.
Roundworms. Not segmented as are earthworms
50 um wide, 1 mm long
Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, other nematodes, and roots
Ten to twenty in a teaspoon
Control many disease-causing organisms.
Root-feeders may cause root diseases.
Release ammonium.
Include insects, mites, spiders, springtails, & millipedes
Microscopic to inches
All other organisms
Several hundred in a cubic foot
Shred plant residue, making it more accessible to bacteria and fungi.
Enhance soil structure by creating fecal pellets, and by burrowing.
Control populations of other organisms.
Inch or more long
Bacteria, fungi, and organic matter
Five to thirty in a cubic foot
Shred plant residue.
Enhance soil structure by burrowing, mixing, and creating fecal pellets.
Transport and stimulate growth of bacteria.