The effects of beneficial microorganisms for your plants can be profound.
To help get the maximum benefit from beneficial microorganisms, your nutrient solution should be well oxygenated.
Your nutrient solution is the foundation that your plant growth depends on. It’s composition of essential nutrient ions, oxygen, microbial life and other beneficials determines the health and growth rate of plants.
So, it’s in your best interest to make sure your investment of time and hard work in perfecting your balance of nutrient and beneficial microbes for your hydroponics system does not go to waste.
Mixtures of different microbes (good and bad ones) compete with each other. In time, certain microbes will begin to dominate. In most cases, it is the beneficial microbes that will dominate providing they have what they need to survice and thrive.
Many of these good beneficials have a suppressive effect on some pathogenic fungi and bacteria; others act to break down organic matter releasing plant nutrients.
Because these types of beneficials are known to have a natural suppressant action to many root diseases in hydroponics such as Pythium, Furasium wilts and others, the vitality and growth of beneficial microbes for disease control is important to massive root growth.
Providing these beneficials with food (in some of your nutrients) and oxygen ensures that they will grow and multiply in your garden. But keep in mind that harmful microorganisms also use the same food to multiply.
Since harmful pathogens are more likely to thrive in anaerobic conditions and beneficial organisms thrive in aerobic conditions, it’s important that your root zone be well oxygenated.
The Bad Ones
Bad bacteria can make your nutrient solutions cloudy and could produce slime in the system and smell bad.
Strong persistent bad odors are a result of bacteria metabolizing proteins that releases amines and sulfur containing organic molecules. Microbial growth in the nutrient itself is a result of having organic materials in the system somewhere. When organic feeding fungi or bacteria are present in the system, they use most of the oxygen in the nutrient solution and smother your plant roots. (See "Prolong the Life of Your Compost Tea")
Bad bacteria can also release toxic compounds into the nutrient as they grow, multiply, die and decompose. The bacterial species that produce bad smells, slime and other undesirabe problems are not the ones we want to encourage. Their growth results in stagnant, oxygen starved conditions and root death and rotting root systems (root rot).
Once root death starts, opportunist pathogens such as Pythium will then invade the plant’s root tissues, making disease control difficult and make running a hydroponics system unpleasant.
As we stated in our last Post "Goldilocks and Your Root Zone" warm summer weather could be exacerbating this unwanted process and wreck havoc with your nutrient solutions. This is why it is important to pay attention because it affects the vitality of your beneficials.
The solution, is to boost the growth of your beneficial microbes and make sure they thrive.
Beneficials and Bigger Root Growth
Thriving beneficial microbes can make a host of improvements to both your hydroponics system and your plants by correcting atmospheric nitrogen, increasing nutrient uptake, and decreasing the instances of disease. (The image on the left is an example of no roots to this root mass in 25 days; from Homegrown Garden Supply)
The "kill everything and sterilize" method for nutrient solutions is giving way to a more integrated and environmentally friendly method of allowing microbes to exist naturally in a well run, fully aerated system.
Sterilization of the nutrient has proven many times to be difficult and expensive to carry out, often resulting in plant damage, nutrient problems and residues of sterilization chemicals. Using sterilization techniques such as H2O2 and Chlorine in nutrients solutions requires a high dose to kill some of the persistent plant pathogens and this has been shown to damage young and sensitive roots in many crops.
Keeping the nutrient well-oxygenated swings the equilibrium in favor of beneficial microbes in nutrient solutions so does starting with a clean system and equipment.
Long-term prevention of nutrient problems relies on having the right combination of microbes, nutrients, oxygen and small amounts of organic matter that do not encourage rapid growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
HydroRush is a recommended and easy way to promote the growth and vitality of beneficial microbes in anaerobic and anoxic conditions in your root zone. As an example, HydroRush breaks the bonds of several microbes like bad smelling sulfur dioxide (SO2) and makes the Oxygen (O2) molecule available for your beneficial microbial growth and proliferation.
The Gardener’s goal is for beneficial microbes, bacteria and fungus to live symbiotically within the root zones of your plants, carrying out a wide range of activities that can be beneficial for your plants. As these beneficial microbes and fungi colonize in your root zone they will help your plants absorb more nutrients and water, protect your plants from disease, stimulate root growth and many more beneficial functions that are good for your plants that will result in larger and faster root growth and better yields.