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Importance of Oxygenating Growing Media
Many hydroponic growers and even commercial growers either ignore supplying adequate amounts of oxygen to plant roots or don't understand the importance of it.
The most critical area of the plant requires oxygen is the root zone. Provide the roots with the maximum amount of oxygen to encourage nutrient uptake, which in turn will lead to faster growth and a possible 30% increase in yields.
Sometimes the plant growth stunt and then die, the reason for this, they are not able to get enough oxygen to their roots or you fail to provide them enough oxygen to roots.
The process of oxygenating involves combining oxygen with the water in your nutrient solution or allowing the oxygen to flow through a porous grow media. However, this isn't as simple as it sounds. As you know, oxygen is a form of gas that 's found in the atmosphere. However, dissolving it into water, which is called a mass transfer process, requires two conditions.
First, there must be a driving force. This is represented by the difference between the amount of oxygen in the water or solution and the maximum amount the water will hold. This is generally referred to as solubility and is governed by what is called Henry's Law.
The second thing that needs to be considered is the point of contact or interaction between the liquid and the gas. This is known as interfacial surface area. I'll explain all that in more understandable terms as we go on through this issue of Bigger Yields.
The oxygen in the air doesn't readily combine with water. In fact, trying to combine oxygen and water can be a pretty energy intensive process. The range of solubility of oxygen and water is approximately 15 parts per million at 32 degrees F to about 7 ppm at 95 degrees F. at sea level.
One of the most common methods of providing oxygen is to use an air stone. This technology includes a pump which transports oxygen from the atmosphere into the reservoir tank and through an air stone. The air stone diffuses the oxygen into the solution by creating extremely tiny oxygen bubbles. This creates the interfacial surface area I mentioned above which is required for mass transfer.
Unfortunately, about 90 to 95 percent of these extremely small bubbles escape right back into the atmosphere and there is little you can do about that. Although, if your plant roots are partially airborne, when using in an NFT system, they will take over some of the escaping oxygen from the grow media.
If you don't want to mess with an air stone and pump, try this. Add 1 pint of hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water. Hydrogen peroxide is known as H202 which means that it has an extra oxygen atom. When you combine the hydrogen peroxide with water, vigorously shake it for five to 10 minutes and let it sit overnight. The next day, you'll have a clean water-hydrogen peroxide solution. When you add this to your reservoir, the extra oxygen atom will attach itself to the roots and aide in the uptake of nutrients.
Oxygenating grow media isn't nearly as difficult as saturating your solution. You need to start with a porous medium that will allow air to pass through it. If necessary, add something like perlite or vermiculite to make the medium more porous.
I mentioned above about how much of the oxygen generated by an air stone tends to escape. This isn't altogether bad because it will tend to help aerate the grow media.
More updated hydroponics news at http://www.advancednutrients.com