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How can the level of oxygen in a plant's roots be measured?

How can the level of oxygen in a plant's root be measured?A sufficient amount of oxygen is important for the breathing of plant cells. This level is particularly determined by the proportion of water and air in the soil or substrate. The air contains 21% oxygen and almost 12 milligrams of oxygen can be found in 1 litre of water. This dissolved form of oxygen is very important, because the breathing of the cells takes place in the cytoplasm. Healthy and active roots can be accomplished through enough dissolved oxygen in the roots, which can be monitored with an oxygen sensor. Read this article to get an overview of the benefits and how to do this exactly.

Results of insufficient oxygen

Oxygen, assimilates, water and C02 contribute to ‘’energetic chemical connections’’. These connections are essential for amongst others, the intake of nutrients and to keep tension on the plant cells (firmness). An example of a situation in which this energy is needed is to keep sodium away from the plant’s roots. 

When the plant receives an insufficient amount of oxygen, the chemical connections that are formed are less energetic, with several negative results. The root growth is weakened or stopped entirely. Also, the intake of nutrients are affected, possibly resulting in symptoms of deficiency. In practice, high nitrite levels are measured along with a deficiency of oxygen which leads to the transformation of nitrate (N03) to nitrite (N02). A high nitrite level is toxic, both to humans and plants and serve as warning for the plant’s root that a problem has arisen. The intake of nutrients can be stopped. When roots lack oxygen, the plant is more susceptible to moulds such as Pythium. 

Organic pollution in a drip irrigation system leads to a decrease of oxygen levels. When the water remains still, oxygen is used by bacteria and the level can increase up to critical values. This makes it important to maintain a clean watering system.

Measure the level of oxygen with sensors

Even though we have been interested in oxygen for a long time, it hasn’t always been easy to carefully measure the level of oxygen credibly. Nowadays, a solution is found. With help of these new technologies, the development of sensors through which you can measure and monitor the amount of oxygen in the substrate yourself is realized. The data that is collected through these sensors can be compared with other cultivation factors on a platform, so that contexts can be analyzed. These analyses can give new insights in the areas of climate control, water supply and plant resistance.


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