The Importance Of CO2 In Your Hydroponic Grow Room
Plants need CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) to survive. This element is essential to the process of photosynthesis and without it your plants will cease to grow properly. This reaction happens in the leaf tissue and, with the correct lighting, water and carbon dioxide, sugar is produced to help feed the plant so it can grow.
Almost all the carbon in each plant has come from the carbon dioxide in the surrounding air. So the good news is that there is enough CO2 in the air for your plant to grow as it should. Typically there is around 330-450ppm of naturally occurring carbon dioxide in the air around us, and that’s okay for growing plants as they require at least 200ppm. It does the job.
But Can It Do Better? You Bet It Can!
The amount of carbon dioxide in the air is the main limiting factor when growing hydroponically, as water and nutrients are generally sufficiently provided. The ambient levels of CO2 are enough, but as that gets used the amount of available CO2 in a closed environment obviously becomes depleted. If the CO2 is not replaced, plant growth halts. So really, you want to be ensuring that a good amount is always available.
Not only that, but plants can actually use much more than the naturally occurring carbon dioxide - as much as up to 1000-1200ppm – and using additional carbon dioxide to enrich your grow room’s air can have a brilliant effect on plant growth. Your plants will grow stronger and faster, and you can expect a 30-50% rise in yields as long as all your other growing conditions are at the optimal level.
However it should be noted that using too much can also be harmful – don’t go overboard! Too much and the ability to transpire is reduced, affecting photosynthesis and the amount of nutrients that the plant can access. You can check CO2 levels in a few different ways, one of them being with the Evolution Digital Carbon Dioxide Controller. This controller will tell you just how much is present in the air and will help you to control the amounts easily.
What Are The Optimal Levels For My Grow Room?
Each set-up will have slightly different needs of course, but on the whole there are a few things you should be looking out for to keep your grow room running smoothly.
Having correct temperatures - between 25-28°C - in your grow room is always important, though temperatures can run a little higher where CO2 is enriched. You should also have sufficient lighting available to assist with photosynthesis, such as the budget BAY6 Complete Kit or (if you want something a little fancier!) why not try the Budmaster LED light range?
The timing is equally significant. Plants take up CO2 for photosynthesis (which can only happen when there is light) so it makes sense to only enrich your grow room with CO2 during lights on. When the lights are switched off, your plants are taking in oxygen instead, so adding CO2 at night time is simply a waste of time and resources. You might have heard that sometimes nurses would remove plants from a hospital ward at night so the oxygen concentration didn't get too low for the patients - well it's actually true! Whether the slight change in oxygen levels would actually affect patients is a different matter entirely...
Air movement is important, but you don’t want to be using CO2 with an outside ventilation system turned on. If your room is constantly ventilated from an outside source, most of the CO2 will just end up outside. Your plants will not benefit from it, and neither will the atmosphere! There should be just enough air movement so that your plants will shake lightly every so often. You could use an oscillating fan for this, or there's the new DiffuseAir, perfect for getting effortlessly distributed air around your grow room.
How Can I Tell If The CO2 Is Helping My Plants?
Your plants should be greener, and this is because more chlorophyll is present in the leaves with more photosynthesis occurring. As this is happening, your plants are gaining more energy to grow thicker stems and stronger branches, which of course gives a healthier structure.
It has also been found that higher CO2 levels can help with the efficiency of water uptake. This leads to better and more extensive root systems, meaning your plant has a better opportunity to take up the nutrients available in the soil.
If you've never thought about using CO2 enrichment in your grow rooms, why not? There are a few different ways to go about it, including CO2 bottles, generators, and bags. You can find our full CO2 enrichment range here on the website, or pop in any of our four stores, Manchester, Burnley, Huddersfield & Flint to ask any questions.