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The Essential Balance of O2 and CO2 in your Greenhouse

Welcome to another instalment of our Green Thumb Guide, where we dive deep into the nuances of greenhouse farming. Today, we're focusing on a topic that often takes the backseat in discussions about plant health and yield: the importance of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2); and how their careful balance is crucial for optimal plant growth.

Before we dive into the specifics of oxygen's role, let's quickly recap photosynthesis: 

Photosynthesis happens when plants convert light energy into chemical energy, using CO2 and water (H2O) to produce glucose for growth - releasing O2 as a byproduct. This process is the basis of plant growth and food production worldwide. In a greenhouse, we optimise the conditions for photosynthesis by not only managing light and water but also ensuring the right balance of CO2 and O2, particularly at the root zone.

The Dual Role of Oxygen in Plant Growth

Oxygen is crucial for both above-ground and below-ground plant functions. Above ground, it's a byproduct of photosynthesis. Below ground, it's essential for root respiration. Roots use oxygen to break down sugars into energy, which facilitates nutrient absorption and healthy growth. Without adequate O2, roots can’t function efficiently, plants don’t grow as well and their overall health suffers.

Root Zones are the Foundation of Healthy Plants

Proper aeration in the root zone is critical. O2 in the root zone enables essential biological processes, including nutrient uptake and root development. Waterlogged soils or poor drainage can create anaerobic conditions. This means that the oxygen in the pores of the soil profile is replaced by water, depriving roots of oxygen and significantly impacting plant health.

Every crop needs a different growing media mixture to ensure adequate aeration. In greenhouses, where we can precisely control this mixture, we choose a combination of substrates that supports the optimal drainage and aeration properties per crop.

Balancing Oxygen and CO2 Above Ground

Plants primarily require carbon dioxide for photosynthesis during daylight hours when the plants’ stomata open to absorb CO2 and release oxygen. This results in water loss through transpiration, which makes it important to maintain adequate humidity levels to minimise water stress.  

Maintaining optimal levels of O2 is equally important to support plant respiration and overall health. This balance is achieved through effective ventilation systems, which play a critical role in regulating the exchange of gasses in a greenhouse. It helps to bring in fresh air with a higher concentration of CO2, especially important in densely planted greenhouses where plants can quickly deplete CO2 levels.  

But how do you ensure that you keep a healthy balance of O2 and C02? 

Vegtech Netafim can help!  

With a deep focus on precision farming, we use advanced environmental control systems that can monitor and adjust CO2 levels, humidity, and temperature in real-time. We also use precision irrigation systems and ensure that you’re equipped with the right substrate for your needs. With this combination, it becomes simple to create an optimal environment for photosynthesis and respiration, and thus, maximise crop yield. 

How We Help Farmers Achieve Balance and Maximise Yield

By leveraging our decades of expertise in greenhouse construction, agronomy, and sustainable agriculture, we empower farmers to maximise their crop health and yield in an environmentally (and financially) responsible way. 

Connect with our team today on +27 21 987 6980 or to find out how we can help create the ideal conditions for success in your next greenhouse project.