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Oxygen level in water: an underestimated factor in plant growth

Greenhouse water management: a high-tech aspect of horticulture in which every factor is controlled: pH, EC, the amount of algae, fungi, pathogens etc. However, one major factor, that determines plant growth just as much as the other factors, is often forgotten: oxygen.

Biological relevance of oxygen
Plants need oxygen for their growth. This oxygen is taken up in dissolved form via water intake through the roots. The oxygen is relevant for the active uptake of essential nutrients as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, but also for the formation of proteins and the production of dry matter. An oxygen deficit in irrigation water will therefore cause growing problems. In addition, dissolved oxygen levels are also relevant for substrate quality. High dissolved oxygen levels increase competition in soil life which adversely effects development of pathogens. Dissolved oxygen level also regulates the production of substances that suppress diseases and pathogens.

Oxygen shortage in water
Industrial Product Solutions BV (IPS) designed and developed a special, patented unit for the injection of dissolved oxygen in the water. They had to deal with oxygen deficit problems in practice. André van der Stoel, director of IPS: ‘The need for oxygen is nothing new. Research has investigated the relevancy of oxygen in the different growing steps for a long time. However, neither the supplying sector nor the growers seem to be aware of the relevance of oxygen. IPS has the biological know-how on plant growth in house and when one of our customers came to us for advice on his hydroponically grown lettuce, we could relate his problems to an oxygen deficit in his irrigation water. The development and installation of our oxygen injection unit solved his problems and increased plant growth and quality highly.’

‘In summer, the oxygen demand of the plant is highest due to its strong growth. However, when water temperature increases, the oxygen holding capacity lowers. Normally, oxygen levels in water can increase naturally by means of diffusion with the atmosphere. However, the contact area of irrigation water in storage tanks with the atmosphere is regularly low and the time for diffusion too short for the amount of water. We recommend water with a temperature of 25 ℃ the maximum, physically possible oxygen concentration of 8.5 ppm but in practice we often measure irrigation water with concentrations between 3-5 ppm, which are absolutely conditions to make plants suffer. This makes the need of oxygen addition to the irrigation water clear.’ Van der Stoel says. ‘We really believe that our oxygen injection unit can save many growers a lot of problems. We are already selling the unit to several growers with different types of crops.’

Oxygen injection unit
The patented oxygen injection unit of IPS can easily create water with high oxygen concentrations at a low energy consumption rate. Due to an intelligent method of mixing pure oxygen with water, the water takes up the oxygen efficiently and fast. Desired oxygen concentrations can be easily managed by the grower and the unit can be applied in-line with other water management equipment but also stand alone. The unit is available in several sizes, depending on watering requirement by the greenhouse. This makes the unit applicable in a large variety of growing methods, e.g. ebb and flow systems, grounded cultivation, pot cultivation, vertical farming methods and several hydroponics systems as NFT and DFT.

See also the following article:
‘What are the benefits of maintaining the optimal substrate oxygen level?’ - A recently published blog post about a research study on the influence of oxygen levels in the substrate on plant growth.

For more information:
Industrial Product Solution BV
M. +31 (0) 646713208
P. +31 (0) 78 3040000

Publication date: 3/12/2018



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