The effect of Trichoderma

How does a plant benefit from Trichoderma and what is the usefulness of detection?

Introduction

The fungus Trichoderma is known for its positive effect on plant growth. Different species of this fungus are commercially available and are for many growers a positive addition to the cultivation. But what is exactly the effect of this fungus on the plant and how does it work? Another important aspect is the decision when to apply another treatment.

Effect on the plant

Trichoderma is a soil born fungus which can appear on almost every soil or substrate. The fungus can survive at temperatures from 5 till 35ºC. The most applied Trichoderma specie is Trichoderma harzianum. The effect of this fungus on the plant is mainly the protective capacity against plant pathogenic fungi. The chance that fungi like Pythium, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia can damage the roots of the plant will be minimized. The fact that the roots need less energy to protect themselves from plant pathogenic fungi is the reason why they can put more energy in the uptake of nutrients and the growth of the plant.

Working mechanism

Trichoderma harzianum works in three ways:

  • Colonization of the roots. In this way other fungi don’t have the chance to get close to the roots and damage them.
  • Competition with other fungi. Trichoderma and other (plant pathogenic) fungi feed on the waste products of the plant. Because Trichoderma can colonize the roots very quickly it has a benefit in the competition for these nutrients.
  • Parasitism of other fungi. Trichoderma can parasitize other fungi and excrete a digestive enzyme which breaks down the chitin in these fungi. In this way nutrients will be extracted from them.
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    Application

    Trichoderma has to be applied preventive for optimal performance. The product can be applied as a seed treatment, added to the soil/substrate or it can be added through the irrigation system at the beginning of the cultivation. In this phase the plants are still vulnerable and therefore have more benefit of the protective capacity of Trichoderma.

    Detection

    To be sure that Trichoderma has an effect on the plants it is important to know in which amount
    Trichoderma is present. Therefore is nesecery to analyze the percentage of roots that is colonized with Trichoderma.
    Another way is to analyze the drain water on the amount of Trichoderma. When you know the amount of Trichoderma you can make a decision about when to apply another treatment.
     
    When you want to analyse the roots or drain water on Trichoderma you can always contact us.