• mike@loxyde

Crops and soils are top athletes so why don’t we give them oxygen?

Introduction

One of the most important element for any top athlete is the level of oxygen in his/her blood as the body uses oxygen in a chemical process that produces fuel for the muscles. This is especially important for endurance events. The higher the oxygen level or the more prolific the body becomes at using the available oxygen the better he/she will perform. In fact many doping products are about increasing the red blood cells thereby increasing the amount of oxygen the blood can transport around the body.


Unlike top athlete’s crops are allowed to be drugged and farmers are their dealers making crops chemical dependant - ie: chemical fertilisers, chemical pesticides, chemical herbicides and fungicides yet none of these help with regards to soil oxygen levels – in fact they most probably have an adverse effect on oxygen levels and on soil microbial populations.

Signs of soil compaction: standing water for a day or more after a period of rain or if a pick-axe appears to be the best tool for digging a planting hole, then soil is probably too compacted.

Unfortunately soil oxygen and water oxygen levels are not on most farmers agenda. It simply not something they have been told about or are aware of. Yet plants and soil need oxygen to function in the same way as a top athlete.


Farmers nurture crops but destroy their soils

Crops – may it be field crops, orchards or greenhouse crops are nurtured in order to grow as fast as possible and produce as much as possible. The general pattern is: water, chemical nutrients, chemicals against diseases, chemicals against insects and more chemicals against weeds. In reality what they are doing is feeding their crops fast-food and still expect a top performance.


Many farmers do look at their soil or substrate, but mainly as the medium that prevents their crop from falling over. Of importance to them is soil pH, soil nutrients and they will glance at soil organic-matter (O.M.) content.


And yet soil health is 70% of obtaining a healthy crop and a high yield. Soil health is the equivalent of a healthy digestive system for humans as 70% of our immune system is housed in the gut!

So why aren’t we treating our soils and plants as a top athlete with healthy nutrition and plenty of oxygen.

Agriculture chemicals destroy soil crumbs, the result is a highly compacted soil with reduced drainage and air circulation.

Many soils are in a deplorable state due to soil compaction caused by heavy farm equipment, heavy rain on bare soil, repeated applications of chemicals, lack of O.M., unhealthy rhizosphere and significantly poor oxygen levels. In fact it is estimated that 60% of agricultural soils are oxygen deficient! Even off-soil growth media can easily become oxygen depleted. No sure, use a soil oxygen sensor (figure 1.)


Oxygen matters a lot

Figure 1: Soil oxygen sensor Research has shown that lack of oxygen levels in the soil affects plant physiological processes such as nutrient and water uptake as well as respiration, disease resistance, the redox potential of soil elements, the activity of micro-organisms (M.O.) and the absence of vigorous plant growth.

The natural mechanism of oxygen transport in the soil is diffusion. This is greatly influenced by soil physical properties such as:

  • Texture and structure,

  • Conditioning,

  • Pore size distribution,

  • Tortuosity and connectivity.

  • O.M. & M.O. population

  • Man-made chemicals

In fact O.M. is crucial to soil oxygen levels as it is the modifying agent of the soil's chemical and physical properties, affecting its structure and the porous matrix. Basically if the soil biology isn’t working properly in structuring and maintaining the soil you have a BIG oxygen problem.


How a soil should work to make your plants healthy top athletes?

Everything in the soil works as one cohesive system. Basically, plants, shrubs, trees aren’t made to eat fast food i.e.: man-made chemicals. The normal procedure is: plants gets its food from M.O. with whom it has developed a symbiotic relationship over millions of years. The more M.O. & diversity the quicker it gets the nutrients it requires when it’s required. In exchange the plant produces sugars for the M.O. In case of a pathogen attack, the M.O. will defend the plant.

A number of Mycorrhizal fungi have developed ingenious mechanisms for trapping micro-organisms such as amoebas & nematodes which are then absorbed by the fungus.

Plant roots, M.O. all need lots of oxygen to function optimally in the same way as a top athlete. You cut off or reduce the oxygen and their performance is seriously going to suffer, resulting in lower yield, stunted growth, increased instances of disease, etc…. unfortunately in many cases the farmers remedy is to apply more chemicals….

Soil structure is dependent on O.M. content as it allows M.O. to structure the soil which then allows for de-compaction, water infiltration and storage. It also allows for oxygen to move and circulate into the soil. Oxygen is used by plant roots and M.O. and there are lots of M.O. in a healthy soil : One gram may harbour up to 10 billion M.O. and thousands of different species. That’s free workers to take care of your plants!


Solving the problem with Hyperoxygenation

Definition: The administration of a higher than usual concentration of oxygen.


The biggest problem with adding oxygen to the soil is how to do it. The easiest method is to add it to water. Normally water is actually a barrier to oxygen diffusion in the soil but in the case of hyperoxygenation of water – where the oxygen is independent of the carrying capacity of the water (see https://www.hortidaily.com/article/6025147/the-importance-of-dissolved-oxygen-in-irrigation-water/) it can be the simplest and cheapest method to oxygenate the soil and obtain rapid results.

Oxygen is the cheapest fertiliser you will ever “buy”

Hyperoxygenation will help kick-start the soil M.O. and provide oxygen to plant roots. Oxygen rich soils will restructure themselves, clean themselves up, de-compact and protect crops from Nematodes (they dislike oxygen rich environment). Soils will become more draining whilst water retention capacity will increase and natural oxygen movement in the soil will also improve. All this will lead to better performing crops, increased yield and a natural disease resistance from the plants.


R-EAU

R-EAU is a hyper-stabilised hydrogen peroxide free from any heavy metals - that’s important as heavy metals such as silver/copper/etc create dead zones in the soil. All R-EAU ingredients fully break down into water and oxygen or harmless sugars that can readily be processed by M.O. Furthermore soils and plants are well acquainted with hydrogen peroxide as it’s present in rainwater and plants produce it as a means to defend themselves against M.O. attack.


R-EAU very slowly releases oxygen over time. You can compare it to a slow release fertiliser, except that it releases oxygen into the soil.

Our standard dose will add 6.5 litres of oxygen to the water in a manner that is independent of the water carrying capacity of the water. So basically in 1000 L water we replace a bit of water by the same amount of R-EAU which is still water but instead of being H2O water its H2O2 water – water with an extra “volatile” oxygen atom which we use to slowly oxygenate the soil.

H2O2 degrades to become H2O and O2

Oxygen release has to be very slow and controlled - using normal H2O2 would not work as it would rapidly decompose upon contact with the soil and not penetrate into the soil where it is needed.

The other advantage of hyper-oxygenating water is that most irrigation water is oxygen poor. Oxygen poor water accentuates oxygen depleted soils as water needs to have an oxygen balance and will aggressively take away oxygen from the soil and plant roots in order to achieve its oxygen balance. Basically making a bad situation even worse.


Using R-EAU will re-establish the oxygen balance of the water, rapidly oxygenate the soil and also ensure a buffer of oxygen so that the water barrier does not affect the oxygen supply to the soil as the water becomes the oxygen supplier.

Sour smelling soil may be a greyish colour indicating that it contains little oxygen

The other benefit we have seen over the years is that R-EAU increases the effect of Bio-Stimulants by around 25-30%. We have seen that it increases the effect of traditional foliar applications when the water the product is applied with is enriched with R-EAU. This basically means that you can reduce the levels of chemicals you apply to your crops and still obtain the same results.

In fact based on these results we created a new product Called NOTLOX for use in combination with Herbicides such as Roundup. All tests so far have shown that a 75% reduction of the recommended herbicide dosage is possible in combination with the recommended dosage of NOTLOX. Farmers will basically save on chemical, save money and still obtain the exact same results.


Conclusion

The response to oxygen by the soil and crops that are oxygen poor is fairly rapid. Within a couple of applications users generally see great improvements to their plants – more vigorous growth, root development, leaf colour, etc.. - and even changes in the top soil structure – de-compaction signs and better water drainage. To maintain and rebuild the soil it is important to insure adequate soil organic matter content and regular applications of R-EAU. Use of chemical treatments should be reduced but generally these will be less and less required as the soil M.O. takes over the well-being of the crop as the soil recovers its normal biological functions. The use of Bio-stimulants can also significantly help to reduce chemical dependency.


Restoring soil health and oxygen requirements is not something that has to be a long term exercise i.e. years. It can - if done correctly - be achieved very quickly if the right tools are used – mother nature works in great ways especially if you give her the natural tools to do this. Furthermore there is an increasing demand from consumers to move away from chemical treatment – certainly from the time crops flower until harvest.


Water and soil oxygen - the forgotten factor for top crop production.




References:

  1. Living Soils: The Role of Microorganisms in Soil Health, 20 JUNE 2017 Christopher Johns, Research Manager, Northern Australia and Land Care Research Programme

  2. Ohio State University Extension, Understanding Soil Microbes and Nutrient Recycling, James J. Hoorman, Cover Crops and Water Quality, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Rafiq Islam, Soil and Water Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, South Centers at Piketon

  3. Fundamentals of Soil Ecology (Third Edition), David Coleman, Mac Callaham and D. Crossley, Jr., (London: Academic Press), 2017, 376 pages, ISBN: 9780128052518

  4. Oxygen diffusion in soils: Understanding the factors and processes needed for modelling, José Neira, Mauricio Ortiz, Luis Morales, and Edmundo Acevedo

  5. SOIL OXYGENATION EFFECTS ON GROWTH, YIELD AND NUTRITION OF ORGANIC GREENHOUSE TOMATO CROPS, M. Dorais, S. Pepin

  6. https://www.herbierphylae.com/en, Laurent Strelow

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