Why CO2 Is So Important When Growing Using Hydroponics
It is widely accepted that plants and humans have a symbiotic relationship. Humans use oxygen and create CO2 (carbon dioxide) and plants use CO2 and emit oxygen in the atmosphere. It is frequently suggested that talking to your plant life helps them to grow and this could be attributable to the discharge of CO2 by us direct onto the leaves which boosts their intake of CO2 which in turn increases growth, by improving photosynthesis.
Now in the natural world CO2 is all about plants and they develop effectively, yet hydroponic growing is different because it does not entail the usage of soil, and alternatively uses water and nutrients to enable plant growth. Nonetheless this would entirely be fruitless if the CO2 level in the space was not at the correct level. Less CO2 means less growth for the plants and thus additional CO2 means extra growth.
The amount of CO2 existing in air is about 400-450 ppm (parts per million), and so if one increased the volume of CO2 where plants are grown hydroponically one should presume further growth in produce. However as with a lot of things in life it is not really as straightforward as that. Having too much CO2 can also be detrimental to plant growth. So that’s where the gadgets come in. CO2 meters can be purchased from any hydroponic supplier and measure the level of CO2 in your grow room. You will find various ways of elevating the amount of CO2 in your hydroponic system but which you choose will depend on the dimensions of your shed or room.
The following is a basic summary of the most popular methods.
CO2 Control Unit – These are units that measure the amount of CO2 in the room and can be set to increase venting from the outside to increase the amount of CO2 up to the level you want. Monitors the level of CO2 and switches on vents as required hence increases automation of the system.Can be expensive depending on what system you decide to go for.
CO2 boosts – These are a range of substances that can be added to the system and generate CO2.Reasonably inexpensive. Best applied half an hour after the lights are switched on, or half an hour before they are turned off. Vents cannot be employed as they are going to get rid of the produced CO2. Which might be problematic if the temperature has risen. Might be difficult to regulate the levels of CO2 obtained depending on the amount added.
CO2 Canisters – A CO2 canister can be used to boost the amount of CO2 controllers can be used to release the gas when it gets to a lower amount. More appropriate for more substantial hydroponics units.Must be used during the light period and the fans should not be used otherwise the CO2 released will be removed from the room. Expensive and entails time and effort in acquiring the canisters and getting them refilled. Can be weighty but are easily bought in aluminium canisters to reduce this.
How Calcium Can Play a Role in Hydroponics
Calcium is needed for crops to grow and gain healthy structure in their cell walls. It also is used in the plants membranes as a type of cement fastening cells to one another, and plays a valuable role at the root. Calcium stimulates the protein channels in the roots that consume the nutrients necessary for the plant’s success. In the absence of calcium being available the roots wouldn’t be able to consume any nutrients. Calcium is mostly supplied in hydroponics through nutrient solutions such as calcium nitrate or calcium salts. A consistent supply is needed during development as once it is cemented into the plant cell wall it becomes rigid and consequently more is needed to continue plant growth.
Calcium deficiency in plants can result in leaf tip burn or problems in the fruit, called blossom end rot. As the calcium is determined by the volume of nutrients used or calcium compounds by the grower, deficiency is frequently due to other growing influences. Examples of which are as follows:
- An excessive amount of potassium, sodium or magnesium in the hydroponic solution. This can disrupt the uptake of calcium by the root because it is in competition with these substances.
- Excessive humidity. This can affect the movement of water and nutrients through the xylem tissue of the plant, and to the different areas of the plant. When humidity is excessive transpiration rates decrease which in turn affects the rate at which water and calcium is drawn up the xylem.
- An excessive EC electrical conductivity) of solution. A high EC signifies that there is a high degree of dissolved salts in solution, and this can affect the intake of calcium by the plant.
Calcium deficiency in hydroponics is often evaded by deciding on the correct nutrients for the plant type being cultivated and having an adequate level of calcium within the solution. The correct EC level is essential and must be measured frequently to ensure that calcium is taken up at the roots. Attempting to keep the environment consistent and constant is also essential as excess humidity can reduce calcium uptake and as a result the level of temperature should be carefully monitored. The use of fans to create a gentle breeze on the leaves can help to reduce humidity and promote transpiration and consequently helping the development of healthy plants and fruit.