Almost any plant that germinates in the soil can also be grown in a hydroponic system, ranging from trees to fruits and vegetables. Because no soil is used in a hydroponic system, a liquid nutrient delivery system supplies all the nutrients a plant need to survive. The germination phase is very important for hydroponics systems because it will determine if the crops will survive in the system or not.
Mycorrhizae or mycorrhizal fungi are a type of fungi that initiated a powerful, symbiotic relationship with true plants nearly half a billion years ago. These fungi grow on the roots of the plants and help take up nutrients from the soil or whatever growth medium the plant happens to be planted on.
Fungi absorb and make use of nutrients through a connection of fine filaments called hyphae, which grow rapidly and thrive once fungi attach themselves to plant roots. It is estimated that one plant growing in a regular one-liter pot of soil can have a total of one kilometer of fungi hyphae assisting it.
While plant roots are capable of taking up the nutrients, fungal hyphae can dig deep into the smallest pores of soil or growth media, thereby maximizing nutrient absorption daily. Better nutrient absorption will result in improved growth of the plant, and also helps to prevent the plant from infection from common plant pathogens.
Choice Of Mycorrhizal Fungi For Hydroponic Systems
In any growing system, for mycorrhizal fungi to thrive and benefit plants in a hydroponic system, the appropriate species of mycorrhizal fungi must be used to colonize the plants being grown. Several other factors must be considered as well.
A hydroponic system that intends to support the colonization of roots by mycorrhizal fungi must be fully aerobic. To ensure that the fungi will survive, oxygen levels at 6-8 ppm (for context, most tap water provides 5 ppm of oxygen) must be maintained by growers oxygen which can be added to the growing environment through air stones or bubblers. Because hydrogen peroxide can oxygenate, it should not be used as it will kill mycorrhizal fungi and host plant tissue.
Most hydroponic systems use some form of media to support plants such as rock wool or expanded clay pebbles, many scientists use a modified hydroponic system for their studies, using sand as a growing medium and saturating with nutrient solution, but mycorrhizal fungi will grow in nearly any substrate, or even water alone if it is provided with enough oxygen.
Mycorrhizae will continue to be an essential factor in the success of hydroponics setups because these fungi directly influence how well the root systems of hydroponics plants will perform in any setup or condition.
Hydroponics crops are sometimes susceptible to pathogens, and applying mycorrhizae formulations (either in a fine powder or liquid forms) can help reduce the incidence of root rot and other associated plant conditions.
Great White Mycorrhizae
Great White Mycorrhizae is one of the most comprehensive mycorrhizal products in today’s market. It is a well-loved booster for hydroponics and the most preferred by growers because it assists in creating explosive and highly functioning root systems in germinating plants.
Great White Mycorrhizae improve the effort in providing the most number of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi, with 16 species, 14 of the species are beneficial and plant-loving bacteria while the other two species of Trichoderma. It is recommended that mycorrhizae be applied after flushing the system, to ensure optimum growth throughout the growing season.
Great White Mycorrhizae is a cutting edge formulation that encourages plant roots to form strongly with the direct help of the fungi that grow almost immediately once applied to the growth medium. The formulation is in form of light powder, which allows the hydroponics grower to deliver the fungi to the plant roots directly, causing fast and robust germination.
Once the Great White Mycorrhizae is successful in colonizing the roots of the crops, the following effects can be watched out for by hydroponics grower:
- Better and more robust flowering
- Explosive and sustained growth of the root mat
- More numerous and better-tasting fruit
- Thick and healthy foliage
- Increased resistance to common plant pathogens, especially those that affect the roots of plants
- Highly efficient absorption and uptake of water and nutrients
In a more natural setting, the uptake of water and nutrients varies from place to place, and season by season. It is based on survival of the fittest; some plants make it while others don’t.
In a hydroponics setup, there is absolutely no reason for the grower to not take advantage of natural crop boosting using naturally-occurring fungi and beneficial bacteria.
Benefits Of Mycorrhizal Fungi In Plant Growth
Mycorrhizal fungi offer the same benefits in hydroponic applications as they offer in planting media and soil. Mycorrhizal fungi are good at what they do, especially in the delivery of phosphorus and nitrogen to their plant symbionts. As they do in other growing systems, fungi grown in hydroponic systems expand the effective root area into the surrounding growing substrate, be it coconut fiber, Rock wool, oasis cubes, gravel, perlite or vermiculite clay pellets or other materials.
The same hyphal extension that occurs with colonized roots in the soil also occurs with roots in hydroponic systems, weather plants are growing in soil, a planting mix, or a hydroponic growing substrate, mycorrhizal fungi provide the same basic benefits to the host plants.
Benefits Of Mycorrhizal Fungi In The Hydroponic System
- Inoculated roots in hydroponic systems are more resistant to pathogens including, rhizobia Pythium.
- Mycorrhizal fungi can create physical barriers around roots to protect them from disease and pathogenic fungi.
- Colonized plant roots branch form more feeder roots, so more nutrients can be retrieved from the surrounding area.
- Mycorrhizal fungi grown in a hydroponic system can support mycorrhizoshperic organisms that provide protective metabolites.
- Strong and healthy plants that will resist pathogens and other conditions more successfully than crops that are left to develop the fungi on their own.
- Increase the chances of survival of cuttings and seedlings, especially during transplantation. Transplantation shock is a huge problem for hydroponics growers and making use of mycorrhizae is one of the simplest ways to reduce the incidence of it.
- If your hydroponics setup often suffers from poor harvest, opting for mycorrhizae just might solve that. While mycorrhizae are not a cure-all or a remedy to any plant disease, but it is a way to improve the nutrient uptake system of plants naturally.
- It might help in saving the cost of purchasing fertilizer since the nutrient uptake is directly influenced by the germination of mycorrhizae, the crops will experience a significant boost in the absorption of vital nutrients like phosphorous.