Fireside Chats- Soil health with Prof. Lyn Abbott, Sylvia Leighton and Murray Gomm – June 2023

For the first in our winter series of ‘Fireside Chats’ hosted by the Torbay Catchment Group, we had the wonderful privilege to be joined by Professor Lyn Abbott, Murray Gomm and Sylvia Leighton along with 26 attendees keen to learn more about soil health and enjoy the warmth and delicious food provided by the Elleker General Store and Tavern.

Professor Lyn Abbott chatted about Mycorrhiza and the Soil Health Ap, Murray Gomm told us about his journey developing soil health on his Oranje Tractor property in Marbelup and Sylvia Leighton shared her experiences as a botanist and regenerative farmer in the great southern of WA and her masters research on soil bacterial populations.


The word ‘Mycorrhiza’ has been derived from the Greek words ‘mushroom’ and ‘root’ – and refers to the association between the fungal hyphae of mycelium with plant roots in a non-parasitic relationship.

Prof Lyn Abbott shared how mycorrhiza are ubiquitous and grow in almost all plants and talked about techniques you can do at home in order to see them.

These fungi occur in most soils and most crop and all pasture species. Mycorrhiza:

  • Form networks in soil outside the root, but connected to the root
  • Have a role in Phosphorus transport into the root
  • Acquire soil carbon (C) from the root
  • Can help in soil aggregation
  • Fungi can help in soil carbon (C) sequestration through binding
  • Can help in drought resistance- fungi can get into smaller pockets
  • Fungi help plant nutrition and this helps with disease resistance
  • Creates connections between roots of different plants
  • Help in chemical, physical, and biological processes for plants

This project is supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program and from the Western Australian Landcare Network.