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Oxygen is an essential parameter for the development of healthy plant roots and the improvement of plant resilience. According to Tyler Baras, special projects manager at Hort Americas in Bedfort Texas, increasing dissolved oxygen can possible improve nutrient uptake and improve overall growth. Also, researchers from the former TNO Department of Applied Plant Sciences, have proven on several occasions the influence of oxygen on plant growth.

As you can see in the figure above the impact of oxygen on young cucumber plants is significant. The cucumber to the most left was exposed to oxygen levels of 10 mg/L, the middle one to 3,6 mg/L and the most right to 0,5 mg/L. As you can see it is essential to maintain high level of oxygen through out the growth of a plant.

Furthermore the figure above  shows the difference of in growth among butterhead lettuce.

Researchers from Bedford state: “At 2 ppm the arugula plants were severely stunted and were unsalable,” he said. “At this low rate there were also some severe nutrient deficiencies. At 7.5 ppm the arugula looked normal with slight deficiencies. There weren’t any nutrient issues at the 29 ppm rate and the plants almost doubled in size.” These findings only enforce the need for maintaining high levels of oxygen in crop development and in horticulture.

However, the importance of oxygen in horticulture is becoming gradually apparent however up to recently it was difficult to accurately measure the oxygen concentration in substrates. This was mainly related to the ancient electrochemical oxygen and electrodes. The common electrochemical electrodes measure the potential difference between the potentials of electrodes that dip into the same solution, or more interestingly, dipped in two different solutions.

Recent development by Sendot Research have developed opto-chemical sensors with rival the ancient electrodes. Opto-chemical sensors are able to measure oxygen in dens-non stirring environments, such as rockwool, used as substrate for horticulture. The optical sensor can penetrate the rockwool and measure oxygen via diffusion rather than difference in electrical current.  

This approach gives horticulture growers a huge advantage, which opens the possibility to monitor the oxygen level real time in substrates. Subsequently, growers can adjust the water requirement of plants according to the light intensity, EC and pH.

Considering this advantage the sensors are commercially available and require minimal maintenance and supervision.  

Cucumber (left to right) grown in 10 ppm, 3,6 ppm and 0,5 ppm of dissolved oxygen. (Source)

Arugula (left to right) grown in 29 ppm, 7.5 ppm and 2 ppm of dissolved oxygen. (Source)

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