HOW TO INCREASE PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY WITH A GOOD ROOT SYSTEM
The root system is one of the most important parts of the plant; it helps to anchor the plant in the soil or substrate, to absorb water and nutrients, and to store them.
Root function proves to be the limiting factor for production in many situations, and it is estimated that about 80% of the energy consumed by the plant goes to root development.
The 4 main parameters to be taken into account to optimise root performance are:
- The daily evolution of the energy used.
- The respiration rate of the roots, both under normal conditions and especially under saline conditions.
- Water and nutrient uptake.
- Metabolite transfer and storage capacity.
In the plant’s root environment, both excess carbón dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) deficiency can especially reduce root activity, which means that water and nutrient uptake may be reduced. And if the plant lacks water and/or nutrients, it will allocate more energy to the production of more root hairs to get the root system to transport what the plant needs. Looked at another way; as the médium or substrate dries out, the roots will seek more water and produce more root hairs.
A properly developed root system also helps to keep the soil more porous (more micro and macropores) if it is too compact, binding the particles together and favouring a more uniform distribution of water.
Equally important is the active absorption area, which lies 1-2 mm behind the root apex. The areas with the youngest but consolidated roots still have the capacity to absorb nutrients and also serve as a support for the absorbing hairs, and are therefore the most effective in the supply and transport of nutrients.
All these data justify the need to maintain an adequate air/water ratio in the root environment, and the importance of maintaining a permanently active root, with continuous development of Young roots, and with a permanent development of absorbent hairs.
To potentially increase production efficiency and facilitate the supply of water and nutrients to the plant, fertigation is recommended. In this way, thanks to multi-injection, the plant spends less energy on producing roots and uses this energy to develop the part of economic interest; be it the fruit, the leaves in the case of lettuce, or flowers in the cut flower market.