The modern grower who really understands plant physiology knows that plants have evolved close partnerships with many other organisms - some above the ground like pollinating honeybees, and some under the ground like mycorrhizal fungi. Without their natural symbiotic partnerships, plants are incomplete and may have low yields, be subject to diseases, or may even fail to survive.
The important role of pollinating insects is relatively well-known, in part because of their visibility at flowering time, but the benefits that plants receive from living organisms in the soil is hidden from sight. It also doesn't help that some of the most beneficial soil organisms are microscopic in size.
Earthworms are the obvious soil dwellers, but unseen bacteria and fungi also have vital roles to play in the health and productivity of plants, and the fact that they are tiny in size doesn't mean much when their numbers go into the billions per ounce of soil. Over one-fourth of the total weight of healthy soil can be comprised of living organisms, which is why forest soil is fluffy and loose when nearby crop soils have compaction problems after years of microbe-killing fertilization and tillage.
Keep in mind that these multitudes of tiny living things in the soil are all continuously decomposing organic matter, solubilizing soil minerals, reproducing, excreting, and dying. The latter two functions are of particular interest to plants, which obtain wonderful nutrients as a result. Actually, the nutrients that are obtained in this manner go beyond wonderful, they are perfect - because plants have evolved with them. We humans cannot begin to duplicate this dynamic plant food.
Mycorrhizal fungi can be thought of as a "bridge" between the soil organisms and plant roots. The actual surface area of roots in contact with soil is quite small, which severely limits their uptake capabilities. It is therefore mycorrhizal fungi's role in nature to fully colonize the surrounding soil with millions of tiny root-threads and bring the perfect nutrients described above into plant roots.
Putting a seed or transplant in the ground can be an enjoyable task. Strategically arranging for that ground to contain a broad spectrum of minerals and some organic matter, plus adding the correct types of mycorrhizal spores at seeding-transplanting time can produce extremely successful plants.
We now have a website for home gardeners and market growers- see www.mycominerals.com - or commercial growers can see advice on using our Inoculants at our regular BioOrganics site.
Good growing, my friends,
President, BioOrganics, Inc.