What is Mycorrhiza?
STT’s partners inoculate seedlings that they distribute with Mycorrhiza. The inoculated seedlings have a better resistance to drought. In this piece Justin Chidawali, STT’s technical officer explains the nature of mycorrhiza and its benefits.
Mycor means fungus and Rhizal means roots so Mycorrhiza means a fungus that has a relationship with the root of a plant. Mycorrhiza has thread like tentacles called mycelium and these are the seeds of Mycorrhiza. They function by helping the host plant to absorb minerals, nutrients and compounds, especially nitrogen. Mycelium helps to direct nutrients from beyond the root zone to the roots of plants that have formed a partnership with Mycorrhiza. In doing so, the host plant becomes more resistant to drought and diseases than those plants that have not formed a relationship with Mycorrhiza.
Which Plants Can Form a Relationship with Mycorrhiza?
Most of the plants including fruit trees for example, Papaya (Carica papaya,) Guava (Psidium guajava) and other crops in our Tanzanian environment can form a relationship with this kind of Mycorrhiza fungi and because many areas in the Dodoma region have no trees and are very dry, this method will help to Improve the survival of seedlings.
Where is Mycorrhiza Found?
Mycorrhiza fungus can be found locally in areas where the land and natural vegetation have not been disturbed by human activities e.g. agriculture, feeding animals and so on.
How Mycorrhiza Can Be Used
The soil is taken from under a big tree where the soil has not been disturbed by human activities for two or three seasons. Then the soil can be put in a container or a hole dug in the ground and lined with a plastic sheet with holes to let water get through. After this, soil is put into the hole, it is important to remove stones, pieces of wood, plant maize and beans/ or other crops from the soil. After planting the seeds in the container/hole (trap pot) they need to be watered for three months. After this period they should be left for one week without water and then cut down. The roots and soil should be mixed together to form the innoculum which can be used to inoculate seeds.
Socio-Economic Benefits of Using Mycorrhiza
STT can benefit by using Mycorrhiza in the tree planting project because many plants will be able to resist drought. This means that local communities, especially women will be able to get firewood from the trees planted at their homes; they will also be able to get fruits from the fruit trees planted at their homes. Other organisations and many more communities can also learn from the work of STT through dissemination and knowledge exchange.
||Tree Seedlings with Mycorrhiza
||Tree Seedlings without Mycorrhiza
Presentation on mycorrhiza training