Using Dissolved Oxygen in Agricultural Farming

February 20, 2020

Dissolved oxygen can drastically increase a plants ability to utilize nutrients and defend against pathogens, while increasing yields and significantly decreasing plant shrink. Dissolved oxygen (DO) is the measure of how much oxygen is dissolved in water. DO naturally enters water through direct absorption, rapid water movement, and as a byproduct of underwater plant photosynthesis.  DO is strongly influenced by temperature and water salinity. Cold, clean, and pure water holds the highest quantities of dissolved oxygen. High levels of DO are desirable, but oftentimes in commercial greenhouses and hydroponic grow systems, there isn’t a simple way to increase DO.  Why does dissolved oxygen matter for greenhouse and hydroponic grow systems?  Improves root systems  Dr. Paul R. Fisher states, “Many growers are unaware of the level of oxygen present in their irrigation water or that raising the level of oxygen in the water will produce a plant with a better root system.”   According to Dr. Fisher, dissolved oxygen is especially important in hydroponic grow systems: “In hydroponics, where the roots are bathed in water, it is very important that there is enough oxygen dissolved in the water because that’s the only way roots are going to get oxygen for their healthy…

Dissolved oxygen can drastically increase a plants ability to utilize nutrients and defend against pathogens, while increasing yields and significantly decreasing plant shrink.

dissolved oxygen water

Dissolved oxygen (DO) is the measure of how much oxygen is dissolved in water. DO naturally enters water through direct absorption, rapid water movement, and as a byproduct of underwater plant photosynthesis

DO is strongly influenced by temperature and water salinity. Cold, clean, and pure water holds the highest quantities of dissolved oxygen. High levels of DO are desirable, but oftentimes in commercial greenhouses and hydroponic grow systems, there isn’t a simple way to increase DO. 

Why does dissolved oxygen matter for greenhouse and hydroponic grow systems? 

Improves root systems 

Dr. Paul R. Fisher states, “Many growers are unaware of the level of oxygen present in their irrigation water or that raising the level of oxygen in the water will produce a plant with a better root system.”  

According to Dr. Fisher, dissolved oxygen is especially important in hydroponic grow systems: “In hydroponics, where the roots are bathed in water, it is very important that there is enough oxygen dissolved in the water because that’s the only way roots are going to get oxygen for their healthy growth and respiration.”

Root elongation and density was found to be positively affected by increasing aeration. By increasing the dissolved oxygen to 8 mg/l, Dr. Sonja Maki, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Earth Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, found increased branching, length, and better weight in her crown pea roots

Increases nutrient uptake

Increased levels of DO stimulate root growth and health. In turn, increased root health directly translates into more efficient nutrient uptake. In particular, the fine root hairs that develop in increased quantities and under ideal conditions are responsible for the majority of water and nutrient uptake.

Reduces harmful bacteria counts

Water treated with DO produces healthier plants because the DO is able to eliminate bacteria that can be harmful to plant growth. High percentages of DO reduce the harmful bacteria count, and destroy  pathogenic bacteria to thrive in an anaerobic environment. 

Bolsters plant health & increases yields 

One study found that by increasing DO levels to 20-30 mg/L, growers were able to improve lettuce plant growth under a low greenhouse temperature in a deep hydroponic culture. The dry weight of the plant was over 100% greater than the control

 

Irrigation system pipes and water conditions contribute to levels of DO. 

Irrigation water delivered through the pipes in your fields or indoor growing area can have a detrimental impact on the health of your plants. The reason for this is because biofilm can colonize and grow on pipe surfaces. 

Biofilm is the thick layer of green or brown scum often seen lining the insides of pipes. Biofilm is a significant contributor to plant diseases because it can host bacteria, viruses, toxic algae, fungi, E. coli, and other harmful pathogens. In addition, the various microbes in biofilm colonies consume oxygen, resulting in water with low DO levels.

Treating Biofilm in Irrigation Systems is critical to plant growth.

Clean pipes in the irrigation system help maintain higher levels of DO. As previously stated, we want to maintain higher levels of DO so that plants can grow more effectively. 

Chlorine has been the standard means of treating and controlling biofilm growth in irrigation systems. But many farms are finding that ozone based water treatment systems are more effective in removing biofilm deposits and eliminating free-floating bacteria, while leaving greater amounts of DO in the water. This is because ozone has been shown to not only kill bacterial biofilm on contact, but also detach the biofilm matrix from pipe surfaces, making recolonization more difficult, all without leaving any negative residues which might be harmful to plants. 

The Watson Ozone Water Treatment System increases dissolved oxygen while sanitizing irrigation systems. If you would like more information please contact Watson Well.

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Don Watson and his family have been providing experienced and reliable service to our well-water system since 2011. In those seven years, Watson Well has made a number of timely emergency service calls at any time of day and night, upgraded our water system, and rehabilitated our well.

Mr and Mrs R.W. Goodlake

Eureka CA

Thank you Watson Well for saving our well!

When our well stopped producing water this summer, I called Watson Well. They used a special pump and opened up the well from 67’ to 132’. While inspecting the well with a video camera, they found that the wells steel casing had deteriorated in a number of places leaving large holes where sand and gravel were continuing to enter the well. They immediately installed a new liner and gravel packed the well. Our well has never produced this much water volume in twenty years of living on this property. We are also noticing a tremendous improvement in the quality of the water.

Susan Ashford

Don, his sons, and employees are all very knowledgeable and professional and did our projects at a very reasonable cost.

As Public Works Director for the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, I have contracted with Watson Well on five different projects for the tribe, here in Loleta, CA. Their company has completely replaced both of our main water systems submersible pumps and piping, which was not an easy task, as those wells are very deep. These projects were done very quickly and efficiently, while still maintaining a potable water supply to everyone at all times. They have the tools and equipment to not only handle the small jobs, but large jobs like this also. They have also installed three water softening units for us, as our water is very hard. These are big commercial units and all are working flawlessly. They have also developed a small rural water system for us on a piece of property the tribe recently purchased, to supply water to livestock. All of the work they have done for us is doing what they said it would do, without any problems or issues. Don, his sons, and employees are all very knowledgeable and professional and did our projects at a very reasonable cost. They stand behind their work and are only a phone call away. I would highly recommend Watson Well for any water project, no matter what the size, if you want it done right, on time and on budget, you won’t be disappointed.

Mike Flockhart, Director of Public Works

Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria

Thank you so much for the excellent response and care we have received. Your crew was courteous, prompt, clean, knowledgeable and very hard working!

It is hard to believe that it has been 9 months since I called you with an “out of water” problem on our property. It is not the call that any one on a well wants to make during a record breaking drought. You were here in a very short time and after taking in all the normal diagnostics you were concerned about us being dry but not convinced it was a true dry well. I think we were very fortunate that you had the ability to put a camera down our well to see what was happening and came up with a plan to rehabilitate our well after you discovered our weep holes for the well were plugged with iron bacteria, calcium and stuff. It gave us hope that we could get this reliable well up and running. You pulled the pump and line and determined that pump was fine. Once that was clear you put in the proper chemicals and literally scrubbed our well pipe of the “stuff” and found that our well was over 200’ deep. Water flowed and once the junk was sucked out of the well bottom and the chemicals neutralized we had 18’ more water which put us at over a 50’ column of water, of course this was fantastic. While here, all new water line and electrical wire was reinstalled and new electronics that were more current and a vast improvement of what we had. Since then the water keeps flowing with generous amounts and quality.

John and Elizabeth Ennis

Kneeland

I can only offer my highest praise for Don and his employees; thus I rank them 10 out of 10.

During the past two years, Watson Well has designed, constructed, and maintained a number of different projects at my home. These include new water storage tanks, a water treatment system, new piping from the pump house to the residence along with separate lines and faucets for untreated water; and a complex rain water catchment system including tanks, piping and faucets to different locations, all while providing flexibility directing the water to different areas as needed. Don Watson and his crew worked efficiently and coordinated the different aspects of the jobs in an effective manner. All systems continue to operate as expected without any problems. Don was always extremely helpful and receptive to new ideas which he easily incorporated into the projects.

Charles Compton

California Groundwater Association
National Groundwater Association