Beneficial Microorganisms

Beneficial microorganisms are very important components of living soils and dramatically improve productivity of the soil-plant ecosystem: they help cycle nutrients and convey them to the plants, protect against predators and diseases, stimulate germination, regulate humidity, and break down organic inputs. Conversely, a healthy soil microbiome can reduce the need for fertilizers and watering. For instance

- rhizobium bacteria capture nitrogen to transfer it to the plant
- mycorrhizae fungi extend the reach of rootlets to give fuller access to nutrients, minerals and water
- protists fight potential pathogens

In most cases, the relationship between the plant and microorganisms is a mutualistic one, where the plant gets advantages in exchange of giving food (carbohydrates) and protection to the microorganisms.

Our harsh winter conditions are very hard on soil microorganisms. They can also suffer from over-usage of fertilizers (they become useless and falter), over-working of the soil (they are too exposed and falter), soil compaction or water-logging (they can't breath), drought, or pesticides aplication. Beneficial microorganisms can be supported through caring practices and improvement of organic matter content, and should be (re)inoculated as needed. For instance branded soils can highly benefit from (re)inoculation of beneficial microorganisms, as they typically are manufactured to be sterile (and should be re-sterilized in case of undesirables).
A simple way to boost and care for beneficial microorganisms is to use manure and compost. Dedicated inocculants such as MYKE produts can also tremendously help, especially at the start of the season in our Yukon conditions. They should always be used whenever planting or seeding. With liquid products, some populations can benefit from application of smaller doses throughout the season, perhaps weekly or monthly.