The secret life of fungi explained

One of Australia’s foremost experts on fungi and their ability to produce healthy plants and soils says progressive farmers are using fungi to enhance their productivity.

At a recent Soils For Life workshop held in conjunction with “Tombarra”, near Braidwood, NSW, Alison Pouliot, explained the magic that fungi can do.

The secret is the mycelium, which forms mutually beneficial connections with the roots of plants, increasing the surface area of the plants’ roots and maximising access to nutrients and water.

In the latest in the Soils For Life video series, Alison explains that Australia is alive with fungi.

“We have potentially some of the greatest number of fungus species anywhere in the world”.

“If you think about how vast this continent is, how undeveloped it is but also the great range of different habitats we have, from our tropical ecosystems to our alpine regions to our vast areas of desert – all these different areas support different types of fungi, different microhabitats, different types of climates”, Alison says.

“For a long time in agriculture, horticulture, gardening, and biology – we didn’t actually look at the positive beneficial roles that fungi play”.

“I’m so excited now to work with farmers, progressive farmers, horticulturalists, all sorts of people who recognise that this is actually the beginning of the soil, the soil structure”.

Alison says that disturbing the mycelium with chemicals, tillage and irrigation can be very costly.

“I think farmers do know about fungi. I think many are aware of them and it’s about changing old practices and being able to speak out against the pressures of continually putting those supplements and chemicals and irrigation on the soil”.

“If we create the right conditions for fungi to flourish and we reduce those pressures so we don’t break up that mycelium, if we don’t drown it by overirrigating, if we don’t physically disturb it through tillage and ploughing, if we don’t put too much phosphorous on it, if we create those habitats, get that microbiology back into the soil and we reduce the pressures, the fungi will come”.

Find the fungi workshop video here.