Saline soils and mycorrhizal fungi: a problem and a solution

In the search for solutions to the problem of saline soils, in recent years there has been an increase in the use of microorganisms, such as mycorrhizal fungi, to boost both the production and quality of crops. 

 

The latest estimations regarding the extent of soils affected by salinization around the world, both saline or sodic, whether naturally occurring or human-induced, are 1,128 million hectares (Wicke et al. 2011). Saline soils constitute 60% of these.

Saline soils, which are found mainly in maritime areas and irrigated land, have an impact on plants. For example, hydration is hampered since they have problems in correctly absorbing water, and therefore nutrients, through their roots. Not only do plants lose productivity but soil quality is also lost. Saline soils can even put the technical and economic feasibility of irrigation at risk.

 

SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF SALINE SOILS

In recent years, the use of microorganisms to help plants counteract the difficulties they face in these soils has increased. Among these are mycorrhizae or mycorrhizal fungi, as they are also known.

What are mycorrhizae? They can be defined as the symbiotic relationships, that is, of mutual benefit, between fungi and plants to complete their life cycle. While fungi transform the minerals in the soil into forms which can be absorbed through the roots of plants, these in turn secrete sugars, amino acids, fatty acids and other substances needed by fungi.

For example, Glomus iranicum var. tenuihypharum is a mycorrhizae-forming fungus patented by Symborg, which has been defined as the super fungus for its capacity as a bio-stimulant to supply nutrients and water from the soil to the plant, among other reasons.

 

BENEFITS OF MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI

Mycorrhizal fungi improve the absorption of nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen, and water. Resistance to water scarcity also improves. In the specific case of Glomus Iranicum, a common component in Symborg products, resistance to conditions in saline crops is also improved. An increase in both the production and quality of crops has been achieved. For instance, in crops such as melon and corn, productivity has risen by more than 20%; in pepper and lettuce, more than 15%; and in tomato, 12%.

This process is 100% natural and sustainable, not only for the environment but also for the profitability of farmers.