Choosing your crops
Pick a strain that is hearty and easy to grow, is not susceptible to mold, mildew, insects, and not hermaphroditic for best first attempt results.
3 Processes for Plant Growth
A plant has to go 3 processes for it to grow and develop. These processes are photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration.
Photosynthesis is the process where the plant uses light, mainly the sunlight, to create its food. Photosynthesis requires Carbon Dioxide from the air, water from the soil and sunlight to create sugars, starches, and carbohydrates which are called photosynthates. Oxygen is also a product of photosynthesis and is release back into the air. The general equation for photosynthesis is:
Carbon dioxide + water + light energy = glucose +oxygen
We can see in the equation that photosynthesis is dependent on Carbon dioxide, water, and light energy. If any of these are limited then photosynthesis will also be limited which will affect the growth and health of the plant. This limiting factor is based from the Liebig’s Law of the Minimum which states that the growth is dependent on the least source available and not the total amount of the 3 factors available.
Respiration is the process of converting photosynthates back into energy that is needed for the plant’s metabolic processes that affects the growth and other life processes.
General equation for respiration:
Glucose + oxygen = energy + carbon dioxide + water
We can see that oxygen is necessary for respiration. An excess of water makes it difficult for the plant to get oxygen which will reduce the plants ability to convert food into energy.
Transpiration is the process in which the moisture is carried through the plant from the roots to the underside of the leaves. The moisture on the leaves will then change to vapor and released into the atmosphere. Around 90% of the water that enters the plant will be used for transpiration and the remaining 10% will be used for photosynthesis and respiration.
Transpiration plays 3 roles within the plant. First is mineral uptake where water is used as solvent and the medium for transport. Minerals are taken from the roots and carried by the xylem to the other parts of the plant. The 2nd role of transpiration is to cool the plant. The plant is cooled when water vapor is released from the leaf stomata. And the last role for transpiration is using water to maintain the turgor pressure within the plants cells which are necessary for different plant functions. Turgor pressure is what makes the plant rigid and erect.
It is also responsible for pushing roots and dig deeper into the soil. Turgidity is also what regulates the stomata’s guard cells. The guard cells control when the stomata is opened and release vapor or take in carbon dioxide.
The flowering stage needs higher quantities of phosphorous and potassium. The phosphorous acts as a growth enhancer for the flower and potassium acts as a ripener or finisher at the end of the flowering growth. The excess sugar during vegetative phase is used in this stage.
Sources of Phosphorus
Phosphorus is abundant in nature but most of the time it is in a form that the plants cannot take. The main source of phosphorus for commercial use is inorganic phosphate rock. The annual demand for phosphorus is rapidly growing. Due to the limited availability of inorganic phosphate rocks, scientist believe that it will run out in the next 100 years if no new source is found. The main supply of inorganic phosphate rocks are from China, Russia, Morocco, and USA.
Use of Phosphorus in plants
Phosphorus is needed for plant production and the development of new plant tissues. The plants nucleic acids are composed of Phosphorus. Nucleic acids regulate protein synthesis. Phosphorus is also plays a role in energy transformations in plants that promote root growth and budding.
When there is phosphorus deficiency in plants, growth of the plant will be stunted and will often result in abnormal leaf color. If phosphorus is deficient then sugars will accumulate and cause anthocyanin pigments to develop, normally they are reddish-purple color. Usually the discoloration symptoms only show when there is severe phosphorus deficiency. Although, there are times when you cannot see signs even though there is phosphorus deficiency.
Although phosphorus is important in maximizing plant growth and crop yields, they are very inefficient to use. Majority of the phosphorus can easily be absorb into the soil making it difficult for the plant to use. This will result in a limited availability of phosphorus for the plants even though the soil or media is heavily fertilized.
Using Bacteria to improve Phosphorus uptake
Bacteria can be used to improve phosphorus solubility. The potential is great but the progress in using it in large scale use is slow. Identifying the single strains have been difficult as traditional and outdated culturing techniques are not enough.
Benefits of Soil Bacteria
Soil bacteria helps in nutrient cycling and is vital in improving plant health. Beneficial soil bacteria helps by:
- Improves the uptake of certain nutrients from the soil
- Synthesize particular compounds that are beneficial for the plant
- Decrease the chances of plant disease