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Mycorrhizal Fungi; Myths and Truths


 

#1
Microbeman

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I am beginning this thread in an effort to clear up some of the misconceptions which have been circulating concerning mycorrhizal fungi and to point out some facts, pertaining to its usefulness. This is done to the best of my ability and knowledge and as in all things, I can be wrong or there can be information not yet available. I am completely open to correction, input and questions.

Because this forum deals with the cultivation of Cannabis (hemp), I will refrain from spending a lot of time on mycorrhizal fungi other than endomycorrhizal. Briefly ectomycorrhizal fungi predominantly form associations with certain types of trees. An example of this is truffles which form symbiotic, mutualistic associations with trees such as Hazel Nut, Holly Oak and English Oak. In the ‘ecto’ group there is a sub-group which is referred to as ectendomycorrhizal fungi. It is merely a description for fungi which displays both ecto & endo traits. [outside & inside]

Typically ectomycorrhizal fungal hyphae surround and encapsulate the roots of the plant they are colonizing and exchange nutrients by proximity, while endomycorrhizal fungal hyphae enter the cells of the roots to exchange nutrients. Fungal hyphae are microscopic strands which grow from fungal spores, hyphal complexes and mushrooms. Many of them combine to create fungal mycelia, visible to the human eye.

Two sub-groups of endomycorrhizal fungi are Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi (the most common and what we are concerned with here) and Ericoid Endomycorrhizal fungi. In the latter there are two additional sub-groups Arbutoid Endomycorrhizal fungi and Monotropoid Endomycorrhizal fungi. There is no current research I know of indicating that these are of value in supporting the growth of cannabis/hemp.

For those interested in exploring this further here is some excellent information compiled by a student. The biology of mycorrhizas home page

There is some research indicating that there is another type of fungi which may be mycorrhizal with plants. It is labeled ‘dark septate endophyte(s)’. It is my hypothesis that some of the species of fungi imperfecti grown out of [vermi]compost into compost tea are this type of fungi but that is yet to be researched. [the term ‘fungi imperfecti’ is used in this case to describe species of fungi lacking a (so far discovered) sexual stage and typical fruiting body]

The word mycorrhiza has been tossed around willy nilly and there has been enough money ass hype spewed to choke a hundred horses. Mycorrhiza is not the fungi. It is the word used to describe the symbiosis or mutualistic association between root and fungi. Mycorrhizae is plural of this. The term to describe the type of fungi itself is mycorrhizal fungi.

We all know that there is a plethora of products on the market with super attractive labeling and names. Super Ecto Screaming Eagle Myco, is fictional but representative of the crap one is confronted with. In reality if you are serious about getting endomycorrhizal fungi to colonize the roots of your plants you should know that, according to current science of which I am aware, there are only two known endomycorrhizal fungi species which colonize the roots of cannabis/hemp.

They are Glomus Intraradices and Glomus Mosseae. If you are looking for the maximum potential to colonize roots of this species, your chances go up with the higher spore/propagule count per gram. Unless you have a mix specifically formulated I know of no product which includes only these two fungal species. Because Intraradices has been shown (through studies) to be a relatively easy colonizer of most endo-type plants world wide, it is logical to consider using it as a stand alone mycorrhizal inoculant (if you live in North America), because;
1/ It is produced in North America
2/ one can get (in bulk) powder based products at a spore/propagule count of 3200 per gram 1,452,800 per pound or a liquid product at 2,000,000 spores/propagules per gram (available as agricultural products > Increase your yield with MYKE® PRO mycorrhizae ). To get Glomus Mosseae at such densities would be very challenging. [I’m hoping that this will be available in smaller packages in 2012, at least higher than 200 spores/gram]
 
Your best bet to get colonization is to apply the spores to the seeds or prepared cutting and/or the roots at planting time. There are apparently some studies showing that it can take up to 6 weeks for the full benefits of infection to be measurable which has led some to conclude that endomycorrhizal fungi is not that useful in the normally fast paced growth 'pattern' of indoor grown cannabis. This is by all means not even close to being 100% factual. I have yet to satisfy myself of this issue one way or the other, having read some studies indicating early infection/colonization. [I will attempt to update the thread later if I learn something relevant to this]

The foregoing is not intended to imply that there are only two types of fungi which will ever associate with cannabis. Far from it. There are many species of mycorrhizal fungi, yet unidentified and as usual scientists are only scraping the surface in the research in this area. There may well be fungal species growing in the field behind your house which are indigenous endomycorrhizal fungi (or dark septate endophytes or…?) which may associate with cannabis/hemp just fine. What I have outlined is simply your most logical route to success if you are going to buy the spores.

The following is a post by Eco I copied from the other thread which nicely outlines the mycorrhizal species available on the market. I’ve included the post which appeared prior to his as well for cohesiveness.


Posted by Ccoastal;
"That's like saying oxycodone and percocet are the same thing for having the same ingredients. It's all about the formulation. "

Posted by Eco12;
"If you're talking about mycos, it's not necessarily accurate. It really comes down to spore count (propagules in many cases here in the US), and types of mycos.

The BioAg VAM contains 7 different myco species, with g. intraradices making up the majority of it.
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...3IEQOnzZr9iOTA


The RTI product (Mykos) contains glomus intraradices at 80 spores per CC.

The BioAg VAM contains 104 propagules per gram.

Got this from Dr. Mike:

Glomus mosseae
Glomus mosseae is one of the most researched and widely distributed endomycorrhizal fungi. Numerous studies have determined the importance of G. mosseae

• Increased Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) uptake
• Enzyme activity increases access micro nutrients
• Protects roots
• Stimulates root development
• Improved performance of woody perennials
• Keeps root systems healthy
• Increases fruiting and flowering
• Increases crop yields


Glomus aggregatum
Studies have determined the importance of the endomycorrhizal fungus G. aggregatum:

• Improves plant performance in sandy soils
• Protects plant roots
• Effective root colonization with time release fertilizers
• Tolerant of high fertility levels
• Improves performance of Palms, Fruit trees.

Glomus intraradices
Glomus intraradices is the most widespread and researched endomycorrhizal fungi. Literally thousands of studies have determined the importance of G. intraradices:

• Increases nitrogen and phosphorus uptake
• Increases crop yields
• Protects plant roots
• Can access organic forms of nitrogen and phosphorus
• Improves growth and performance of turf grasses, agricultural crops and nursery stock
• Improves plant resistance to a wide array of soil toxicities
• Drought protection
• Salt tolerance

Glomus etunicatum
Glomus etunicatum is also a widespread and well researched endomycorrhizal fungus. Numerous studies have determined the importance of G. etunicatum:
• Very effective in agricultural soils
• Promotes root health
• Greatly improves drought tolerance
• Increases mineral uptake
• Effective in mine reclamation
• Increases crop yields
• Flowering increases
• Increases enyzme activity
• Improved plant establishment

Glomus deserticola
Glomus deserticola is common in semi arid and arid conditions . Studies have determined the importance of G. deserticola:
• Very effective in reducing drought stress
• Promotes salt tolerance
• Increases P nutrition
• Increases crop yields
• Increases N fixation activity

Glomus clarum
Glomus clarum is distributed widely. Numerous studies have determined the importance of G. clarum:
• Protects against heavy metal toxicity
• Promotes salt tolerance
• Increases P nutrition
• Improved growth of grain crops
• Increases N fixation activity
• Increases crop yields
• Well adapted to a wide variety of plants and soil conditions

Glomus monosporum
Glomus monosporum is widely distributed in mediterranean climates. Studies have determined the importance of G. monosporum:
• Active during periods of low water availability
• Promotes root rot tolerance
• Increases P nutrition
• Improved fruit production
• Increases production of vegetable crops


Gigaspora margarita
Gigaspora margarita is common in tropical and subtropical areas. Studies have determined the importance of G. margarita:

• Increases P nutrition
• Improved growth of tropical and subtropical fruits

Paraglomus brasilianum
Paraglomus brasilianum is common in rehabilitation of disturbed soils. Studies have determined the importance of P. brasilianum:

• Resistance to soil toxicity
• Improved root enzyme activity
• Enhances soil remediation

Pisolithus tinctorius
Pisolithus tinctorius is a puffball species that is widespread across an array of diverse habitats and ectomycorrhizal host plants. We use a blend of several ecotypes in our MycoApply® formulations which assures rapid mycorrhizal formations across a variety of environmental conditions. Documented benefits include:

• Rapid early growth of inoculated tree species
• Increases feeder root production
• Tolerant of hot, dry conditions
• Amelioration of heavy metal toxicity
• Inhibits soil pathogen growth and plant infection
• Benefits plants in disturbed environments and acid soils

Rhizopogon
Rhizopogon spp is a truffle species that has numerous special qualities important in a soil inoculation program. The Rhizopogon groups of R. villosulus, R.luteolus, R amylopogon and R fulvigleba targets a wide range of ectomycorrhizal tree and shrub species.

• Promotes soil structure
• Tolerant of cold soil temperatures
• Tolerant of a broad pH range
• High levels of enzyme activity benefiting nutrient and micronutrient acquisition
• Can utilize organic forms of nitrogen
• Protects seedlings against moisture stress
• Promotes successful plant establishment and growth

Scleroderma
Scleroderma is a semi hypogeous genus that is widespread across an array of diverse habitats and ectomycorrhizal host plants. We use two top performing mycorrhizal formulations in our MycoApply products S.cepa and S. citrinum. Documented benefits include:

• Rapid early growth of inoculated tree species
• Improves N and P uptake
• Increases feeder root production
• Prolific rhizomorph producer improves performance in hot, dry conditions
• Amelioration of heavy metal toxicity
• Improves root health
• Improves restoration of degraded soils

Laccaria
Laccaria is a mushroom genus that is also widespread across an array of diverse habitats and host plants. We use two top performing mycorrhizal speciess in our MycoApply products L. laccata and L. bicolor. Documented benefits include:

• Improves survival and growth inoculated tree species
• Improves N and P uptake
• Increases feeder root production
• Protects roots
• Tolerant of high fertility levels
• Decreases drought stress

Based on what I've found out so far (and I think I need to chat with the RTI people and also the Bio Ag folks), this is my understanding.

1. While propagules and spores are different entities, in this instance when Mycorrhizal Applications refers to propagules, they are referencing spores but must call them propagules in order to meet licensing standards in all 50 States. Dr. Mike stated that they do not count propagules that are not spores, because he agreed that they would be largely ineffective.

2. It is very difficult to compare myco products!

My OPINION:

In the case of soil biology and diversity, I feel that having additional myco species beyond just g. intraradices would be beneficial. I would like to see some evidence that these myco species are in direct competition with each other when colonizing a root hair. It seems logical to me that it's more likely the competition with be with other micro-organisms in the soil, and survival and colonization would become more successful with a diversity of myco species, as certain species would be more successful in different environmental conditions, with variables like soil temperature, existing soil biology, moisture levels, and soil structure all having some influence on colonization.

Again, the above paragraph is my OPINION. I'm more than happy to admit that I could be wrong.

Interestingly enough, I have it from a reliable source that all the g. intraradices is coming from Premier in Canada and all these companies are just repackaging and relabeling it.
All products MYKE® PRO mycorhizae

Additionally, more companies are buying from Mycorrhizal Applications and then re-labeling further and marking it up.
Piranha - Piranha Beneficial Fungi Information by Advanced Nutrients

I know for sure the guys above get their myco from Mycorrhizal Applications. (they state on the website that they make it themselves)

There's a liquid product at the first link that has significantly higher spore counts than any of the products we have been discussing.

Here's a good article on mycorrhiza:
http://www.parco1.com/text/mycorrhiz...a%20Primer.pdf "
End of Eco12’s post



Thankfully there are people like David Doudes who have outlined for growers methods of producing one’s own local mycorrhizal spores/propagules. Here are some links and attached PDF.

Cultivating diversity underground for better yields above

http://www.rodaleins...rg/20090806/gw1

ARS Project: DEVELOPMENT OF EFFICIENT AND PRACTICAL METHODS FOR PRODUCING ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI (410449)

Trichoderma
Another consideration if one is contemplating purchasing one of the myco-mixes on the market, is if it contains Trichoderma spores. Because Trichoderma is so much cheaper, the spore count for it in these mixes usually eclipses all the other organisms put together. Unlike endomycorrhizal fungi, Trichoderma requires no root contact to sprout and grow. In addition to this, its favorite food is…..wait for it…..wait for it….other fungi! So you guess what happens if you inoculate your roots with a mix that contains 10,000 spores per gram of Trichoderma and 100 spores per gram total of other fungal species which are slow to sprout.

In my opinion, in most cases, "Yummy" says the Trichoderma as it gobbles down the few sprouting mycorrhizal spores. But, you say, "I get such incredible results when I use ‘Super Ecto Screaming Eagle Myco’. So there!"

Well ya, Trichoderma is a great root/plant protector and there have been studies indicating that it enhances nutrient uptake. Remember the studies indicating it might take a long time for endomycorrhizal to effectively colonize roots? Maybe if you are doing a fast vegetation then kicking into flower Trichoderma is your answer. Maybe it is all that is working effectively in your Screaming Eagle stuff. Maybe it is incredibly cheap to buy elsewhere.

The screaming Eagle people will tell you; Look! Trichoderma is ubiquitous in the soil and grows naturally in conjunction with mycorrhizal spores all over the world. At 10,000 to 100? Freeze dried? Hello.

Am I trying to discourage you from attempting to colonize your cannabis roots with endomycorrhizal fungi? Totally no. I even believe I had success at this by inoculating cuttings and roots as previously mentioned but by also keeping my soil alive and undisturbed (mostly) in between crops. In this way the hyphae and spores remaining in the soil were/are there waiting for the new fresh roots. There are some who now are using companion planting or living mulch, like clover to keep live roots going in the soil at all times. Just be sure you select a plant which is mycorrhizal with the same species of fungi. Not only does this support mycorrhizal networks but keeps the microbial population buzzing along. I wish I had thought of it for my indoor plantation (long gone). I do realize this is not practical for all growers, as it calls for a fairly large volume of soil to preserve it as a living entity.

In reality it appears there are 2 to 5 labs and multiple middlemen wearing lab coats in this world getting extremely rich off everyone’s ignorance over the microbial craze. Wanna spot a phony? If they say they have a product with bennies, microherd or beneficial microorganisms or soluble mycorrhizae, chances are 99% they are full of it.
If they cannot describe the function of the microbes they are selling or cannot explain how nutrients are cycled, even rudimentarily, walk away (or run).

I probably should have referenced stuff as I went along but since I’m not getting grades for this I’ll just lump a bunch of attachments for those of you interested in exploring this fascinating subject in depth. I may hafto do this bit by bit over time.
I’ve at least attached the list of (some) plants which associate with mycorrhizal fungi and Doude’s instructions to begin.

[OR maybe not. Daddyo it would not attach the two PDF documents  On-farm Production and Utilization of AM Fungus Inoculum.pdf and Mycorrhizal Plant-List-11-08.pdf which I posted on the other threads. I don't know how to move these. Can you do it?]

I should also mention in case it is not readily apparent that endomycorrhizal spores do not sprout and grow in compost tea, as a lot of people seem to believe.

Attached Files


Edited by Microbeman, 11 January 2012 - 05:14 PM.
Fix some stuff

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#2
Ganjagoonie

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Thank you so much for this MM!!
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#3
WeeDroid

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:D !Awesome! :D


Am I trying to discourage you from attempting to colonize your cannabis roots with endomycorrhizal fungi? Totally no. I even believe I had success at this by inoculating cuttings and roots as previously mentioned but by also keeping my soil alive and undisturbed (mostly) in between crops. In this way the hyphae and spores remaining in the soil were/are there waiting for the new fresh roots. There are some who now are using companion planting or living mulch, like clover to keep live roots going in the soil at all times. Just be sure you select a plant which is mycorrhizal with the same species of fungi. Not only does this support mycorrhizal networks but keeps the microbial population buzzing along.


I'll be doing this. My cover crop, atm, will be White Clover and Pensacola Bahia Grass. Both will be established in my beds, before I plant any cannabis. I'm hoping I can just use 4 foot dual tube fluorescent lights on them, otherwise my electric bill is going to be out of control, getting them up before my cannabis crop and between crops.

I'll document my results in the organic grow journal forum here. Don't expect it until spring though.

I'm also adding old cannabis roots from previous grows to my compost piles, in hope some myco fungal inoculation can occur.

Edited by WeeDroid, 10 January 2012 - 11:46 PM.

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#4
Guest_MI Wolverine_*

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Thanks, MM. I tried to rep you up, but the clunky controls won't let me. Anyway, much appreciated. This is a subject I'm really ignorant on, so your post is helpful in organizing my thoughts......MIW

#5
Sam Handwich

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thanks MM! didnt know that about the trichoderma.

you can take a guess at who isnt ever buying plant success products again. (this guy) :smoke:

-OSUB
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#6
LumperDawgz2

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Microbeman

I've seen posts of yours over the years and you've cited Dr. Rober Linderman so you know some of his work in this area though that wasn't his only area of study - he headed up a staff of 16 Phd, post-Phd and Phd candidates at Oregon State (Go Beavers!)

Dr. Robert Linderman graduated from UC Berkeley in 1968 with a Phd in Botany. 5 years later he arrived at the Agriculture Research Station (ARS) at Oregon State University. The ARS programs were set up decades ago to help state universities and colleges with the heavy lifting as far as hardcore research. Almost all of these stations are agriculture based. The one that Dr. Linderman headed for 35 years was centered on horticulture, i.e. to help growers earn more money and reduce costs using better methods.

Dr. Linderman retired 3 years ago and the last 20 years of his career was centered on horticulture and what role endomycorrhizal fungi could play. He was the one who first published research that showed the degradation of several microbe colonies from Phosphoric acid and later showed that even uber levels of elemental Phosphorus can have negative effects.

He's the guy the others often quote without giving credit. There is a web page listing his major work spanning 40 years and many of them are available to download (PDF files).

Most of us probably won't be happy with most of his work if fertilizers and 'special stuff' is at the center of the garden paradigm.

Don't shoot the messenger!

LD

Posted Image

To determine the effects of compost on mycorrhizae in greenhouse production of nursery crops, plant pathologist Robert Linderman and technician Anne Davis grow plants (marigolds shown here) in a potting mix with various levels of compost. Some plants are inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi and others are not. Compost was added to the larger plant that Linderman is holding (left) while none was added to the smaller plant.


Source: USDA / Agricultural Research Service, May 6, 2004

Certain fertilizers can actually inhibit beneficial, naturally occurring fungi that help plants use water and nutrients while suppressing diseases, according to an Agricultural Research Service scientist studying these beneficial root-dwelling fungi.

ARS plant pathologist Dr. Robert Linderman at the Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, is studying how these fungi, called mycorrhizae, interact with fertilizers and other soil amendments that have been commonly used in agriculture over the past half century.

Dr. Linderman is one of only a few scientists studying how mycorrhizae affect the nutrition and health of nursery crops. He has measured the level of mycorrhizal colonization of roots to see whether various materials added to soil help or inhibit fungal growth. He studied a range of commercial fertilizers and found that organic ones are usually compatible with mycorrhizae, while phosphorus-rich inorganic fertilizers usually inhibit them.

He also looked at peat moss, a popular additive to potting mixes used to grow nursery crops. He found that in some cases it helps mycorrhizal associations, while in others it hinders the fungi. Coir, a coconut fiber that has become a popular potting mix additive, does not inhibit mycorrhizae, but it may reduce growth of some plants.

Dr. Linderman is currently studying various types of composts to see what, if any, effect they'll have on the establishment of mycorrhizae. His initial finding is that some composts may suppress the fungi because of high phosphorus levels.

After spending years researching these important fungi, Linderman believes that he will now be able to advise growers as to which potting mix additives will help establish mycorrhizae that can enhance plant growth and health.

Read more about this research in the May 2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Edited by LumperDawgz2, 11 January 2012 - 01:28 AM.

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bhp70

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Just real happy to see you posting here MM. Cheers!

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WeeDroid

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Lots of research to be done yet. Makes me want to be a scientist. :)

#9
Sam Handwich

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thanks LD.

i've always known chemical fertilizers harm fragile fungi microbes. i will look up some of his research & use it as a reference next time some (add expletive here) tries to argue with me differently on the sick plants & problems section, saying that the chemicals dont harm them.

-OSUB
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LumperDawgz2

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Can I explain why the Trichoderma spores were added to the original product one last time?

When Mycorrhizal Applications ventured into the horticulture deal he faced a couple of realities. Well - several actually.

The first one was that there was no friggin' way that a large nursery would screw with 2 or more products when batching out their potting soil mixes. It wasn't even clear, initially, what spores would be best for the myriad of perennial cultivars grown in this industry. That's where the real money is - growing annuals is for the newbies who'll either figure how to switch gears or they go broke.

Then again a commercial nursery will have to take on contracts for some annual plants - what to do, what to do?? Simple - create a product with both! Bingo.

Not so fast - about that time Coir arrived on the scene with their list of promises, hopes, dreams, schemes, etc. but a big selling point was that Coir had high(er) levels of Trichoderma spores than did Peat or Sphagnum Peat. Not my claim - that's the claim by the commercial Coir brokers.

Hmmmm.......yet another 'what to do' moment. This was really easy - add the Trichoderma spores to the endo/ecto mix and now you could have the same levels of Trichoderma spores whether you used Coir or Peat - pretty simple, eh?

Problem was that besides this mongrel mix, Phosphoric acid is at the heart & soul of nursery stock growers. You would have a better chance at getting Microbeman to give up compost and worm castings than you would removing the bags of Phosphoric acid from these guys.

That's how Dr. Linderman's initial studies came about - to determine why things weren't working out as planned down on the farm (nursery).

LD

Edited by LumperDawgz2, 11 January 2012 - 03:35 AM.

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Chunk

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#12
WeeDroid

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I'm going to stick this thread to keep the information up on top.

Thanks again for this valuable contribution,


HEAR! HEAR!
:hello::hello::hello:



#13
Senseimilla

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Forgive me if this was answered above and I missed it, but I once read that too much N & P in the soil will kill the fungi or prevent it from doing what it's supposed to do. If I remember right it was somewhere around 1 or 2 N, can't remember for P but wasn't much either -- is this true or made up??? If it is true, what are the level of N-P-K we should stay under???

I see a mention above of P being the issue, but I still don't see where it says what levels are too much... help?

Edited by Senseimilla, 12 January 2012 - 02:33 AM.


#14
Sam Handwich

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it doesnt matter what level they set on the bottle.

ANY chemical based fertilizer harms beneficial microbial life in your soil. the first to go would be the fungi. than the bacteria, i believe.

-OSUB

#15
WeeDroid

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Salt fertilizers can harm microherds. This is more of an issue for indoor container grows than it is for outdoor grows. However, given the scale of commercial agriculture, large swaths of land can be rendered near sterile due to excess salts.

In addition, from what I have read, high levels of available phosphorus can hinder a fungal spore from breaking dormancy when near a root. However there doesn't seem to be a problem with insoluble forms of P or with organic or natural fertilizers (SRP, manures, humates, fish, kelp, etc).

It is readily available phosphorus derived from soluble (liquid) or fast release fertilizers that contribute to this situation.
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Senseimilla

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Who said anything about chemical fertilizers??? I was referring more to higher phosphorous bat guano powders or amendments. Would those harm the fungal system? For example Sunleaves Indonesian Bat Guano is 0.5-13-0.2

#17
WeeDroid

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Reread my post and stop getting your knickers in a twist. ;) You asked about N and P, you didn't specify what form.

Edited by WeeDroid, 12 January 2012 - 06:52 AM.

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Senseimilla

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'ello guvna', I think I've lost me knickees.

Anyway, I'm still not sure what the answer to the question is -- is a higher P guano (between 4 & 13 P) that is either slow or fast release going to damage the fungal system. What about the higher N guanos? What is the highest N-P-K I should consider using without risking adversely affecting it?

#19
Sam Handwich

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i wouldnt add any guano directly to the plant. it should be composted first.

BUT, if it is composted & properly used, i dont believe guano would affect the mycos.

dont worry about the NPK ratio & how it affects the microorganisms. as long as things are composted (or how you set out your soil mixes to "cook" for a month), you shouldnt have any problems.

-OSUB

#20
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Bat guanos don't need to be composted.


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