How Oxygen Affects Plant Growth

plant transpiration diagram

At the center of every new plant growth cell is an atom of carbon, which the plant absorbs from carbon dioxide in the immediately surrounding air. As CO2 is used for it's carbon, water vapor and Oxygen are released from the plant stomata as waste. So, if a plant is "breathing in" carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen as a waste product, what else could the plant possibly need the oxygen for? The short answer is nutrient absorption.

No nutrient absorption occurs at the root zone unless oxygen is present. At a molecular level oxygen is required to transmit nutrients across the cell wall and into the roots. So, when you hear someone say they put an air pump in their nutrient reservoir to keep the plants from drowning, that is not exactly true. An air pump is placed in the nutrient reservoir to keep the plants from starving.

hydroponic gardening tip
Oxygen is required to get nutrients in, but calcium is required to make nutrients mobile within plant tissue. This is critical if nutrients are to be used properly by the plant.

Furthermore, as you increase oxygen levels at the root zone nutrient absorption continues to increase as well. As always, this is only true as long as the values for all other factors remain in their ideal ranges. This has led to many different techniques that try to boost plant growth rates by taking advantage of this fact. These include...

Keeping the Right
Reservoir Temperature

Cool water holds way more dissolved oxygen than warm water, not to mention it also helps prevent pathogens from getting a foothold (partially due to the increased oxygen levels in the water). The ideal temperature of your nutrient solution is 67-72 degrees. If the water gets too much warmer, it will hold very little oxygen and will slow down plant growth. If the water becomes any cooler, it could begin to slow down nutrient uptake (and therefore also slows plant growth).

Adding a Bubbler

hydroponic reservoir with air bubbler

Perhaps the easiest way to increase oxygen in the nutrient solution is simply to place an air bubbler into the reservoir. The more powerful the air bubbler, the more effective this will be. Of course, you could always just add a second bubbler too. A high volume air pump churning through a vertical column of PVC pipe filled with water would be the extreme version of this method. It would produce the maximum dissolved oxygen levels achievable (until you begin removing the water from around the plant roots altogether).

Using Different Aeroponics Methods

Aeroponics is similar to nutrient film technique (NFT) or deep water culture (DWC), except the roots of the plant hang down into an empty chamber. The roots are kept wet with nutrient solution by spraying or misting. Since plant roots are surrounded by air instead of water, oxygen levels are extremely high.

Oxygen levels can be further improved depending on the coarseness of the spray used. The finer the spray, the smaller the water droplets. The smaller the droplets, the greater the surface area exposed to oxygen. Greater surface exposure to oxygen naturally leads to increased oxygen levels.

At this point, you will be close to the absolute limit for maximizing plant growth (assuming all other factors are ideal). Check out the aeroponic systems section for a little more on aeroponics.

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Dirt Cheap organic and hydroponic gardening supplies

Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 20 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Make a year's worth of compost in one week!

What is colloidal humus?

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Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 20 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients.

High Efficiency

One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!


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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

High Efficiency
Soil Gardening

This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It's a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It's natural. it's spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.

My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and....only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!

Low effort organic gardening!

Years and years of experience and results can't be argued with....the Food4Wealth gardening strategy is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work....specifically for organic gardeners who love soil gardening. THIS is the most efficient and productive way to do organic gardening, period! And combined with the ability to make a years' worth of colloidal humus compost in just one week (see World's Best Compost), this overall organic soil gardening strategy is just unstoppable- foolproof, low cost, and low effort!

Learn about high yield organic gardening

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