Carbon Emissions and Possible Answers

By: Clovertone  05-Apr-2012



Christopher Roberts Director Clovertone Ltd


The answer to reducing carbon emissions from agricultural production in New Zealand, lies in

the living organisms in the soil. Namely Mycorrhiza fungi. With all the emphasis on carbon

emissions and the future costs to the economy of New Zealand, it is timely to look for answers

that are simple and cost effective.

Mycorrhiza, What are they?

★ Mycorrhiza are fungi that have a mutually beneficial relationship with the roots of many

plants. They are common in most soils.

★ Mycorrhiza play an important role in plant nutrition.

★ Because they do not photosynthesize, mycorrhiza cannot fix their own carbon.

★ Mycorrhiza receive their carbohydrates from the host plant. In return, the mycorrhiza absorb

nutrients from the soil which are passed to the plant.

★ Since the fungi take the carbon from the plants, the storage of carbon in the soil is enhanced

by the fungi. This is very important in reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

The more mycorrhiza that are attached to the plants, the more carbon is stored in the

soil by these fungi.

How do Mycorrhiza work?

• Because the mycorrhiza fungi are thinner than the plant's roots, they are able to come into

contact with more soil on a per-volume basis.

• The mycorrhizal fungi are made up of a root-like structure and have a network of very fine

hair-like mycelium outside the plant roots that extend into the soil.

• These mycelium absorb nutrients from the surrounding soil and feed them back to the host

plant. As a result, there is an increase in the absorption surface area of the roots.

• Some plant nutrients move slowly in the soil and may appear to be unavailable to the plant.

The result of this slow movement is a sick looking plant. This is particularly important in the

case of phosphorus.

• Most of the phosphorus in the soil is in an insoluble form. Insoluble phosphorus is unavailable

to plants that do not have mycorrhiza on their roots.

• Mycorrhiza can protect the host plants from disease. Mycorrhiza increase a plant's tolerance

to drought, high temperatures, frosts, salinity, and acidity, or a build-up of toxic elements

in the soil like cadmium and fluorine.

• Mycorrhizal deficiency may occur in soils that have been fumigated or areas where large

amounts of topsoil have been removed.

• Additions of nitrogen, phosphorus, or complete fertilisers will reduce the presence and activity

of mycorrhiza.