Soil biology is an underappreciated aspect of agricultural systems. Soil fungi and bacteria are important for nutrient cycling and plant health and many can have a symbiotic relationship with crops, growing around or inside plant roots. Some microbes are so important that there may be benefit to adding them to soil at planting.

There is an increasing number of soil biological inoculant products. Many farmers and consultants may be considering their use, but aren’t exactly sure what they are or what their benefit would be. Three commonly sold inoculants are arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), Trichoderma, and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (BAA).

“Soil fungi such as AMF function as an extra root system for host plants and can increase P uptake from soil,” says Matt Ruark, Associate Professor of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension. “Inoculation with AMF products can lead to faster root colonization of AMF, with greater potential for yield benefits in heavily tilled cropping systems or field that have been fallowed.”

Trichoderma (a species of fungus) and BAA (a bacterium) don’t live inside the plant root like AMF, but on roots or under root skin.

“The yield benefit of inoculating with Trichoderma or Bacillus will be beneficial when weather conditions are causing plant stress,” says Ruark. “However, there is limited field-based research in Wisconsin that demonstrates the economic value of inoculation.”

Top Headlines from Wisconsin Farmer:

Historic barns are being stripped by thieves to fuel farmhouse chic trend

Culver's co-founders among Hall of Fame honorees

Dairy Business Association: Pushing for solutions with lawmakers in Madison

The efficacy of any of these products can vary significantly depending on field conditions, crop, and climate. University of Wisconsin-Extension scientists explain the products’ uses in three brief and easy-to-read articles that are available through the UW-Extension Learning Store. The articles can be downloaded and shared for free; they are also available as printed booklets for a nominal fee.

Direct links to the articles are:

The Value of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi for Field Crops:

The Value of Trichoderma for Crop Production:

The Value of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens for Crop Production:

Top Headlines from Wisconsin Farmer:

Farmer’s hoping for better future as 2019 runs out.

2019: A season of rain and planting-harvesting delays.

Faith based winter markets helps farmers get through the slow season


Read or Share this story: