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Oxygenation diffusing oxygen in nutrient solution and grow media

Most people are aware that plants use Carbon Dioxide (Co2) and releases oxygen (o2), which in turn, we inhale and exhale Co2. This is a symbiotic relationship between plants and humans. The most significant area of a plant that requires oxygen; where oxygen benefits the plants most is the root zone.

Allowing the plant's root system to receive the maximum amount of oxygen possible will encourage nutrient uptake, leading to faster growth rate by up to 30% as well as increased yields.

We can take the plant-human symbiotic relationship to another level by increasing the amount of oxygen available to the plant's root zone. Increase the plant's root zone oxygen and the plant will reward you by growing faster and being more productive.

On the contrary, if you fail to supply the root zone with oxygen, the plant will fail to grow vigorously and output high yields.

What it means to oxygenate nutrient solution or grow media
Oxygenating your nutrient solution in a hydroponics application or your grow media, including soil and soilless (Perlite, Clay Pebbles, Rockwool) means to combine o2 with H2O for nutrient solution or allowing o2 to flow through porous grow media.

Before we proceed to the specifics of oxygenating soil and soilless culture root system, It's important to understand how o2 combines its self with H2O. Oxygen is a form of gas found in the atmosphere. Dissolving o2 into water is called a mass transfer process. To accomplish mass transfer, there must be two required parameters.

Firstly, there must be a driving force; the difference between the amount of o2 present in the liquid, and the maximum levels of o2 the water can hold. What this means is water has a threshold of o2 concentration is can hold. This is often referred to as solubility. Henry's Law governs the solubility of a gas substance into liquid.

Secondly, there needs to be an interfacial surface area, the point of contact or interaction between the liquid and the gas. Read on to get a better understanding of what this means for your particular cultivation method.

The degree of solubility of o2 in H2O
Atmospheric oxygen is only sparingly soluble in water. In fact, attempting to combine o2 with water can be an energy intensive process. The range of solubility of o2 into H2O is approximately 15 PPM (Parts Per Million) at 0º C to about 7 ppm at 35º C under 1 atmospheric pressure; Pressure caused by the weight of the atmosphere - The mean value of 1 atmospheric pressure indicates sea-level (at sea level the atmospheric pressure is a mean value of 1). This mean value will decreases with increased altitude.

The temperature of water determines how much oxygen it can hold. Warm water will hold less oxygen than cold. Because of the low solubility rate of o2 into H2O, there is very little driving force to facilitate mass transfer. In order to accomplish any mass transfer on a reasonable time frame, energy must be generated to create an interfacial surface area.

Oxygenating hydroponics nutrient solution
Hydroponics has come a long way since its conception many, many years ago. Commercial hydroponics systems available today typically come with the equipment and technology necessary to facilitate oxygenation of your nutrient solution.

This equipment and technology usually includes a pump to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the reservoir tank to the air stone which diffuses the oxygen into the nutrient solution. The air stone will diffuse tiny oxygen bubbles measuring a mere 1-2 mm in diameter, which create the interfacial surface area required for mass transfer.

Although the diffused bubbles are extremely small in size, the majority of the released oxygen (90-95%) created by this method will escape from the nutrient solution back into the atmosphere and is thought to be wasted energy -- unless the plants root are partially airborne. If the roots are partially airborne like in NFT systems, for example, they will benefit from the escaping oxygen.

The alternative to using air stones and a pump
Adding 1 pint of hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water can super-oxygenate your nutrient solution. Hydrogen peroxide is two hydrogen atoms with one oxygen atom. For this reason, Hydrogen peroxide is know as H2O2. Adding H2O2 to H2O will release the extra atom which attaches itself to bacteria and other impurities that may be present, thereby disinfecting the solution. Combine the hydrogen to the water, shake vigorously for 5-10 seconds and leave over night. The next day, you will have a clean water-hydrogen peroxide solution. Add this solution to your reservoir and the extra oxygen atom will attach itself to the roots, aiding in nutrient uptake.

Oxygenating grow media
Oxygenating a grow media is not as complex as saturating liquid with gas. To facilitate aeration of your grow media, the medium needs to be porous; Admitting the passing of gas (eww).

In hydroponics application, the escaping oxygen from the nutrient solution will aid in the aeration of the grow media.

In soil application, you need to use quality commercial-grade potting soil. Ideal soil would be highly porous and contain water holding substances such as porous aggregate (rocks), perlite, vermiculite, bark and twigs. Other water retaining substances are manure, peat moss, dried grass and leaves. Although the combination possibilities vary, a good soil mix can be a combination of 1/3 tree bark, 1/3 vermicultite and 1/3 sand.

This article contributed by www.hydroponicsearch.com

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