The importance of Mycorrhiza Fungi

There is a great and still relatively undeveloped agronomic and environmental opportunity that could make an important global difference. Since the end of World War II, the high productivity of agriculture has focused on intensive use of cultivation synthetic mineral fertilizers, monocultural production methods, and intensive use of pesticides.The vast majority of our cultivated soils are in an eroded and degraded state. As we increase demands on our soil to feed billions, we are losing it, and depleting it, at an unprecedented rate. In March, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pointed to melting ice caps and rising sea levels, stressed water supplies, heat waves and erratic weather, with a stern warning about the danger to global food supply. Food demand is rising 14% every decade, while there is tremendous need to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that by 2030, farmers will have to produce 30 percent more grain than they do now to keep pace with hunger. The traditional underestimation of mycorrhizal importance may partly be based on ignorance since most scientists have little knowledge experience or appreciation for these microscopic underground forests. If you are agricultural scientist you may never had any course on mycorrhizae or their importance. Even many mycologists are not well versed on this topic. Agriculture needs to use resources more efficiently. We need to produce more food per unit of water, energy and fertilizer. Few people comprehend how much water is needed to grow food. For example, On average it takes one liter of irrigation water to grow one calorie of food. Consider the average American consumes in excess of 3000 calories a day and you can grasp the enormity of water necessary to sustain the population here in the United States. Research confirms the importance of the mycorrhizal relationship for efficient water use and drought protection among a wide array of important crop species.


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