Oxygen concentration in irrigation water: an underestimated factor in plant growth

Water management in the horticultural greenhouse sector: a high tech aspect within the breeding process in which every factor is controlled and adjusted: the pH value, the number of algae, fungi, diseases etc. A factor which is at least as important is often forgotten: oxygen.

Biological importance of oxygen
Plants need oxygen to grow. The oxygen is taken up in dissolved form in water through the roots. Oxygen is important for the active uptake of essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate, and sodium, but also for the building up of proteins and the dry matter production. A lack of oxygen in water causes growth problems. Dissolved oxygen is also important for the quality of the substrate. High concentrations of dissolved oxygen provide a competitive increase in the soil life at the expense of pathogens. The quantity of dissolved oxygen also regulates the production of substances that repress diseases and pathogens.

Lack of oxygen in irrigation water
Industrial Product Solutions BV (IPS) from The Hague designed and developed a special, patented unit for introducing dissolved oxygen in water. They were dealing with a real situation in which lack of oxygen caused problems. André van der Stoel, IPS director: "Plants and substrates need oxygen, that's nothing new. Research has adequately demonstrated the role oxygen plays in various mechanisms. Remarkably both the supplying sector as the growers do not realize the importance of sufficient dissolved oxygen in the irrigation water. The entire water composition is controlled and adjusted, except for the level of oxygen. It was quite easy for us to link the growing problems in one of our customer's hydroponics system to a lack of oxygen in the water. The development and installation of the oxygen injection unit solved those problems and provided a significant increase in growth and quality of the crops.

"In the summer the uptake of oxygen is at its peak by the plant because of the strong growth in that period. Water, however, has a reduced ability to uptake oxygen if the temperature rises. Oxygen can end up in water by diffusion from the atmosphere. The contact surface of the irrigation water (in cisterns) with the atmosphere is comparatively often too low, or there is no contact at all because the tank is closed. The time available for diffusion is often too limited for the quantity of water. We always advise, at a water temperature of 25℃, the physical maximum oxygen concentration of 8.5 ppm. In reality we measure values between 3 and 5 ppm when we check growers. Plants suffer from these low concentration, and this makes the need for adding dissolved oxygen to water clear. Van der Stoel: "We absolutely believe that our oxygen injection unit can prevent growing problems for a lot of growers. We have already started selling the unit to various growers with quite different crops." 

Oxygen injection unit
The patented oxygen injection unit of IPS can increase the oxygen concentration in the irrigation water to the physical maximum levels of the water without consuming much energy. By means of an intelligent method in which pure oxygen is mixed with water, the water quickly and efficiently takes up the oxygen. The desired level of oxygen concentration can easily be adjusted by the grower and the unit can be installed in-line with other water installations, but also stand alone. The unit is available in various sizes, depending on the water requirement of the greenhouse. This makes the unit applicable in very different breeding systems, such as ebb and flood systems, open field growing, pot growing, vertical farming and various hydroponic systems, both NFT and DFT.

See the following article:
'What are the benefits of maintaining the optimal substrate oxygen level?' – A recently publicized blog post about research into the influence of oxygen in the substrate of the plant growth.

For more information:
Industrial Product Solution BV
M. +31 (0) 646713208
P. +31 (0) 78 3040000
E. info@industrialproductsolutions.nl
W. industrialproductsolutions.nl

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