The research on mulching trees has always been extremely positive. Not so, the application of mychorizal products, except with soils historically devoid of tree species (such as a midwestern praerie soil). I tried to provide a link to the download that the below will bring you too with a goosearch. I couldn’t do it but it is an interesting description of research done way back in the 1940’s.
Mycorrhizae and Phosphorus Nutrition of Pine Seedlings
For most situations in areas with native trees adding mychorizae will likely not improve tree growth, but I don’t doubt it would in Kansas.
I also have invasive bindweed well established in my property. Unfortunately, even a layer of wood chips over cardboard does not keep it at bay for long. It is by far the worst of weed pests I have to deal with, particularly in my veg garden and baby tree nursery. Woven landscape fabric is a better barrier than cardboard, although it is not something I love to use at all, but it is the best of three choices for me, the other two being pulling it out endlessly by hand and herbicides. Unfortunately I can only use it in the veg garden and it is not even practical with all kinds of vegies.
Voles have to be either trapped out or poisoned out here, pretty much whether you use mulch or not. They especially love the protection of landscape fabric, it seems. However, young fruit trees are at risk no matter how you manage the ground under them and simply reducing the risk is not adequate. It makes no more work having to kill more of them.