Organic farming increases important soil fungal abundance and diversity

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are beneficial soil fungi that provide important services to plant and soil health by increasing nutrient cycling, and improving soil structure and fertility. Recently, AMF have gained a lot of attention as their benefits to crop production have become better known, and farmers want to know what kinds of practices can increase the abundance of AMF in their soils. A recent study in the Emirates Journal of Food & Agriculture found that organic farming can increase the amount and diversity of AMF in soils beneath a range of crops including pomegranates, grapes, mangoes, lemons and limes. Researchers compared the amount of AMF and the types of AMF in soils under organic versus conventional management for a range of crops in sandy soils subject to arid conditions. They found that organic soil not only had higher quantities of AMF, but more species as well, with 21 species in organic soil versus 14 in conventional. This study demonstrates that organic farming can increase soil biodiversity and sustainability of crop production in resource-limited soils.