Beneficial Bacteria 101
What is beneficial bacteria?
Beneficial bacteria, or beneficial microbes, is any bacteria (or fungi) considered to be good and not harmful. Think yogurt! For humans, a good example would be the probiotics found in yogurt.
Beneficial bacteria can be just that to your plants, beneficial!
For plants, it's a bit different. In your plants soil is bacteria and fungi. These are beneficial microbes. They will work with your plant to promote strong and healthy roots.
Some can even fight off bad bacteria and viruses that attack your plant. These microbes can also help to break down micro-nutrients in your soil, making it easier for your plant to absorb them.
Hydroponic growers can benefit from beneficial microbes too! They simply need to find a fertilizer containing beneficial bacteria and introduce it into their feeding schedule.
An Introduction to Beneficial Bacteria and Fungi:
Mycorrhiza is simply any type of fungus which creates a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with your plants.
Rhizobium is a soil bacteria which lives with legumes (peas, beans, alfalfa, etc.)
As we know, nitrogen is one of the essential macro-nutrients plants need to survive!
There are other types of nitrogen creating bacteria that can live on the surface of the roots and in the soil, but Rhizobium is the most efficient and most interesting!
* Did You Know? *
The chemical excreted by the roots to scrub out oxygen is called "leghemoglobin" and is close to what is produced by animals. For that reason, many of the latest generations of imitation meats use it as a component to simulate the red juiciness of animal products!
Bacillus is a bacteria found living on on the surface of the roots as well as in the soil.
They can provide a wide array of functions such as effecting the solubility of nutrients. Phosphorus, potassium, and silicate can be made more soluble by this bacteria.
Some strains have the ability to protect the roots from pathogens such as plant parasite, pythium.
There are a large number of species in this genus that are beneficial to plants: B. subtilis, B. amyloliquefaciens, and B. megaterium.
Other species, like B. thuringiensis are insect pathogens and can be used by the grower as a biological insecticide!
* Did You Know? *
When under stress, bacillus bacteria can create a tough shell called an endospore. This allows them to lie dormant for a very long time! So long, that viable spores have been found in crystals of salt over 250 million years old.
Trichoderma are a group of soil fungi.
Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria and Fungi:
An important part in using nutrients is knowing how soluble they are. Phosphorus for example, is insoluble in water. Meaning it wont' dissolve in water on its own.
The good news is there are a number of bacteria and fungi which are able to break down phosphate into soluble forms so it can be absorbed by plants. There doesn't seem to be a lot of research done on which species work the best, but we would recommend finding a species that fits best in your local climate and soil.
So... Should I use beneficial bacteria when growing cannabis?
YES! Introducing beneficial bacteria to your plants is vital to keep them healthy, allow for optimal nutrient uptake, and to grow strong roots.
Proper plant nutrition is key to your cannabis grow running successfully. We recommend introducing beneficial bacteria and fungi to your plants to promote healthy soil and roots.
Good luck! And remember you can always reach out to @futureharvestdevelopment on instagram if you have any questions or need advice.