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Photosynthesis and CO2 Enrichment

Photosynthesis and CO2 Enrichment
Published June 13, 2009 Uncategorized 11 Comments
The benefits of increased atmospheric CO2 on crops are so extensive that a long article or book needs to be written to do justice to the subject and to the results of thousands of research trials. The improvement in photosynthesis efficiency at higher CO2 levels does not tell the whole story, but it is a good place to start, since all plant growth relies on this process.
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants utilize visible light energy (e.g. sunlight) to convert aerial CO2 and water (from roots) into plant matter. This process also requires phosphorus and nitrogen.
There are three photosynthesis ‘pathways’, known as C3, C4 and CAM. CAM is unimportant for food crops, being the method used by cacti, succulents and agaves. Pineapple is the only food crop of any importance to use CAM, so CAM can be neglected for the present purposes. World food security depends on C3 and C4 photosynthesis.
Less than 1% of all plant species in the world use the C4 photosynthesis pathway. Of the 86 plant species that supply most of the world’s food, only five use the C4 photosynthetic pathway, of which only four are of much importance (corn [=maize], sorghum, millet, and sugarcane) yet these four constitute some 20% of all the food crops grown. Because of their high photosynthetic efficiency, the C4 crops corn and sugarcane are favoured for ethanol production by those who want to produce liquid biofuels rather than food, thus increasing food prices and poverty.

Those crops using the C3 pathway include nearly all cereals (wheat, rice, barley, oats, rye, triticale etc), all legumes (dry bean, soybean, peanut, mung bean, faba bean, cowpea, common pea, chickpea, pigeon pea, lentil etc), nearly all fruits (including banana, coconut etc), roots and tubers (potato, taro, yams, sweet potato, cassava etc). C3 is also the pathway for sugar beet, for fibre crops (cotton, jute, sisal etc) and oil crops (sesame, sunflower, rapeseed, safflower etc), and for trees.
At present atmospheric levels of CO2, C4 plants are more efficient at photosynthesis than C3: in absolute conversion efficiency of light energy to stored chemical energy they are around 7% efficient, compared to 4% for C3. C4 plants typically use less water per weight of biomass produced, and can tolerate greater water and temperature stress than C3 plants. Accordingly, C4 crops are most often grown in tropical and equatorial regions.
The advantage that C4 plants have in terms of photosynthesis does not always translate into higher harvest yields, however, as only parts of the plant are edible. In terms of ground use, C3 crops can produce some of the highest amounts of edible calories and protein per acre: for example, potatoes and soybeans respectively.
C4 plants show a relatively small improvement in photosynthesis rate with increasing atmospheric CO2 above present levels; however, at increased levels of CO2 the leaf pores (stomata) of both C4 and C3 plants increasingly close up, which also reduces the amount of water lost by the plant (transpiration). Thus C3 and C4 plants significantly improve their water efficiency as CO2 levels increase. This is shown below for C4 (corn) and C3 (soybean).

C3 photosynthesis is less efficient than C4 partly because of an effect known as photo-respiration, which results in the loss (to the atmosphere or soil) of a substantial proportion of the carbon that has been extracted from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. C3 photo-respiration increases under heat stress and drought, which is a major factor behind the choice of C4 crops for hot dry climates. However, as CO2 levels increase, photo-respiration is suppressed, such that at double today’s levels of atmospheric CO2 the efficiencies of C3 plants (in photosynthesis rate and water use) are as good as or better than C4 plants. Moreover, at higher levels of CO2, C3 plants can maintain efficient photosynthesis rates at considerably higher temperatures than today’s conditions – their optimal temperatures for photosynthesis increase.
The effect of CO2 concentration on photosynthetic rate at constant temperature is shown below for C3 and C4 crops.

As CO2 concentrations increase, the photosynthetic efficiency gap between C3 and C4 plants rapidly closes, and at double today’s CO2 concentration (i.e. at 780 ppm instead of today’s 390 ppm), the photosynthesis rates are the same. Incidentally, the majority of the world’s most troublesome weeds use the C4 pathway, and so have a competitive advantage over C3 crops at current CO2 concentrations. At higher CO2 concentrations, competing for the same resources on the same patch (light, water, CO2, nutrients etc), C3 crops increasing out-compete the weeds.
The photosynthesis rate with temperature is shown below for C3 plants at today’s CO2 levels (Low CO2), and at double CO2 level (High CO2).

The upper curve is the same for C4. From this it is clear that at double CO2 concentration, not only has the efficiency of C3 crops improved tremendously, but the temperature at which optimal photosynthesis occurs in C3 increases up to that of C4. Thus the vast majority of food crops will benefit hugely by increased CO2, and even more so by increased CO2 coupled with warming.
A dangerous combination would be increased warming without increased CO2. Since there is no proof whatsoever that increasing CO2 is having any significant effect on climate (any climate changes might be taking place by completely natural means over which we have no control), but there is incontrovertible evidence that increasing CO2 is positively beneficial with or without warming, then on the basis of risk mitigation and precaution it is utterly foolish to be reducing carbon emissions. As S.A. Cowling put it in Plants and temperature – CO2 uncoupling (Science, 1999, 285, 1500-1501)
We should be less concerned about rising CO2 and rising temperatures and more worried about the possibility that future atmospheric CO2 will suddenly stop increasing
The article Global Temperature Change and Terrestrial Ecology in the Encyclopedia of Water Science (CRC Press, 2007) has the matter stated correctly:
[It is a] well-established fact that CO2 is a powerful aerial fertilizer, which when added to the air can substantially increase the vegetative productivity of nearly all plants…numerous studies have demonstrated that the percent increase in growth produced by an increase in the air’s CO2 content typically rises with an increase in air temperature. In addition, at the species-specific upper-limiting air temperature at which plants typically die from thermal stress under current atmospheric CO2 concentrations, higher CO2 concentrations have been shown to protect plants and help them stave off thermal death…[and] increase the species-specific temperature at which plants grow best. Indeed it has been experimentally demonstrated that the typical CO2-induced increase in plant optimum temperature is as great as, if not greater than, the CO2-induced global warming typically predicted…Hence, [with] an increase in the air’s CO2 concentration – even if it did have a tendency to warm the earth (which is hotly debated) – …[plants] …would grow equally well, if not better, in a warmer and CO2-enriched environment.
We will set out the full range of benefits of increasing CO2 in future posts, but as an initial summary the following is helpful by Vaclav Smil from China’s environmental crisis: an enquiry into the limits of national development (M.E. Sharpe, 1993)
There could also be important beneficial effects, above all a roughly 30 percent higher crop productivity brought by 600ppm of atmospheric CO2 and higher tropospheric temperatures. And the benefits may not end with higher productivity. As photosynthesis is predicated on a very uneven CO2—H2O exchange, higher atmospheric CO2 levels would significantly boost the water use efficiency of all plants. This reduction [in water use] would also average about 30 percent.
Other notable benefits or a higher CO2 level include lower photorespiration (which would increase both the optimum as well as the upper temperature range for photosynthesis), substantially improved symbiotic fixation of nitrogen in leguminous plants, increased resistance to lower temperatures, and air pollution, and a better tolerance of soil and water salinity. A combination of these responses would mean that all major crops would yield more in their current environments while using less water and, when rotated with leguminous species, less fertilizer—or they could be grown in areas considered today too arid for continuous field farming, or that they may be able to outperform the current yields in those regions where precipitation may decline…
Policies such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions, carbon capture and storage, taking land out of food use for biofuels (or onshore wind farms), increasing energy costs, grossly inefficient and poisonous ‘organic’ farming methods etc all serve to destroy the capability of this planet to support an increasing population. Behind this surely is the stated neo-Malthusian and Green policy to wipe out billions of lives by the sheer force of economics. As hunger increases, it will be blamed on man-made climate change, and the screw will be turned ever more tightly to introduce policies that will accelerate the destruction of mankind.


Frequently Asked Questions.

1. What is AGROSOLution made of?
AGROSOLution is a mixture of finely ground minerals containing a high concentration of CO2.

2. What kind of rock is it?
AGROSOLution consists of a composition of several rock types.

3. What is the application rate per ha?
Unless stated otherwise in the application calendar, then the standard application rate is 10.5kg per ha and growing season. The first application amount of 1.5kg per ha should occur at the 3-4 leaf stadium. The following applications should occur at 14 day intervals and each should amount to 3.0kg per ha. See Application Calendar

4. Is the pH of the soil relevant?
No! Since Agrosol is absorbed through the leaf and its effect takes place within the leaf, the pH value of the soil has no influence on its effectiveness.

5. What kind of effect does AGROSOLution have on the growth of the plants? (Cereals)
Positive! The overall plant growth is stronger. Better root growth (especially deeper, denser, more complex rootage), stronger, more stable stalk development (cereals) and increased leaf mass (more biomass).

6. What kind of effect does AGROSOLution have during
    relatively cold and wet weather conditions?
AGROSOLution has a positive effect on the vitality of the plants. As a result, the plants generally cope better with extreme situations.

7. Are there test results from other competitive products?
AGROSOLution is considered as a new fertilizer technology and thus it is currently difficult to make a comparison with other products. Consequently, there are no comparisons available.

8. Is the pH of the water relevant? Extreme acidic or alkaline range?
No, since AGROSOLution unfolds its effect firstly in the interior of the leaf. In addition, the product is not toxic and therefore calls forth no chemical reaction.

9. Where can I buy AGROSOLution?
AGROSOLution can be obtained from the local agricultural trade outlets.

10. Are there any official results available?
Since 2008, the undertaking of extensive trials at leading Research Institutes has continuously been commissioned. All experiments clearly show the positive effect of AGROSOLution. Both yield increase and quality improvements have been confirmed.

11. For which cultures is AGROSOLution suitable?
AGROSOLution functions with all plant types that photosynthesize
     (all c3 and c4 plants).

12. Can I omit or reduce the use of other fertilizers or pesticides
     during the application of AGROSOLution?
Basically, AGROSOLution is to be considered as a supplement which supports plant growth. The usual fertilizers and pesticides should not be omitted.
AGROSOLution simply enhances the effectiveness of other products.

13. Do substances exist with which AGROSOLution should not be mixed?
Currently there are no known substances. AGROSOLution is non toxic and does not change or affect the characteristics or functionality of other products.

14. Can the implementation of AGROSOLution lead to the blockage of spraying nozzles?
AGROSOLution is very finely ground and with a maximum grain size of 4µm, many times smaller than your nozzle (150 to 300µm). Thereby, the blockage of the nozzles by AGROSOLution can be ruled out. You should naturally clean your spraying nozzles after use in accordance to the manufacturer’s specifications, in order to inhibit any sedimentation.

15. How well does AGROSOLution dissolve in water?
AGROSOLution does not dissolve in water. Water is only the carrier. AGROSOLution continuously dissolves in the inside of the leaf via a chemical reaction.

16. Do the weeds grow faster due to AGROSOLution?
All previous experiments and practical results have shown that AGROSOLution has influence on weed growth.

17. Do I need to keep to the application periods exactly?
Basically, the application periods should be adhered to. Small modifications to the time scale have no influence on the product functionality.

18. What if I need to apply later due to weather related reasons
     or I need to miss an application?
Each application helps the plant to cope better with the given conditions. If you cannot perform all applications, then this may naturally lead to a less positive effect on yield increase as if when all applications were completed.

19. Is AGROSOLution also registered for use in organic farming?
Yes, AGROSOLution is registered for organic farming by Info X gen in Austria and by the Fibl in Germany. AGROSOLution, as well as the entire production is also certified by Bio-Austria. See evaluation.

20. What happens if I use too much AGROSOLution?
Basically, this has no negative influence on the functionality. However, a fine white film may become visible on the leaf surface. This will disappear with the next rain.

21. What happens if I use too little AGROSOLution?
Basically, this has no negative influence on the plant. The AGROSOLution effect will naturally be correspondingly lower then with the recommended dosage.

22. Does the presence of AGROSOLution have a negative influence
     on other plant protection agents or fertilizers?
No! Till date, all experiments with commercially available fertilizers and pesticides have shown no negative changes to their effectiveness.

23. Who is behind the company AGROsolution?
Company AGROsolution was founded in 2008 by Peter Huemer-Hartl and Stefan Stassen. The company is owned to more than 90% by the two families.

24. What is the aim of company AGROsolution?
Natural growth and healthy nutrition are the cornerstones of our aspirations.

The aim is therefore, to provide a product that meets these cornerstones.

AGROSOLution meets these requirements.

               Naturally increasing yield by increasing photosynthetic activity
               Strengthening the plants own defenses
               Better utilization of available soil nutrients
               Protection of natural resources, particularly water resources

25. How long does company AGROsolution already exist?
Company AGROsolution was founded in Upper Austria in 2008 after 4 years of product development.

26. What is so different about the product AGROSOLution?
               AGROSOLution is the first field cultivation CO2 fertilizer and is therefore considered a new fertilizer technology. That what has been successfully used in glass houses for years is finally available in the open field.
               AGROSOLution increases the level of CO2 within the plant naturally, thus helping the plant to breathe.
               The advantage over the glass house technology lies in the very low financial requirement needed by the application of AGROSOLution.

27. Is AGROSOLution expensive?
No. The application of AGROSOLution leads to an increase in your profit margin, which after the deduction of all costs, depending on culture, lies between €50 and up to and above €500 /ha.

28. Can I also use AGROSOLution on small areas?
Yes. There are no minimum size limitations with AGROSOLution application.

29. Why is AGROSOLution also suitable for use on golf and football fields?
AGROSOLution reduces the requirement for water by more than 30%, increases the amount of chlorophyll, strengthens root growth and improves Nitrogen uptake.

30. Can I work for company AGROsolution?
AGROsolution is currently increasing internationally at an enormous rate. As a result, we are looking for qualified employees in many areas.

31. Do the plants really grow faster?
Normally, the plants do not grow faster. However, should the plants be exposed to increased stress factors, growth rate differences are possible.

32. Is the yield always higher?
If you follow the recommended dosage and application procedures, then nothing should stand in the way of a yield increase.

33. Is it worthwhile to apply AGROSOLution in wetlands (wet meadows)?
Since the health of the plant will be strengthened, the application of AGROSOLution is definitely useful. AGROSOLution helps by both dry and wet stress.

34. Where is AGROSOLution application of no value?
In principal, the use of AGROSOLution is always useful, because it supports the plant during its natural growth and in general, the plant is less stressed. This makes the plant more resistant, allowing it to withstand stress situations better.

35. Where does AGROSOLution application make the most sense?
On poor quality soils, by water deficiency, in arid environments, in nitrogen-limited sites, in problem zones.

36. Where do you find direct information about AGROSOLution?
The best way is to contact us directly, or contact your AGROSOLution consultant in your region (see homepage). You may also inform yourself by your trusted agricultural trader. See distribution.

37. Is company AGROsolution also present at fairs?
Yes, AGROsolution presents itself at the most important fairs in Germany and Austria. Meanwhile, we are also present at International fairs.

38. Where does company AGROsolution have its production site?
In one of the most modern filling and packing plants in Austria. The total production process is certified by Bio-Austria.

39. Why should the fruit have a better quality?
Through the application of AGROSOLution, the dry matter of the fruit increases, therefore, less water is stored and more flesh is formed.

40. How much water do I save?
This is dependent on the particular culture and the soil composition. University studies have shown, that for example in sunflower, water savings of 19% were recorded, whilst at the same time, biomass increased by 13%. Other experiments even showed water saving of 33% by golf turf.

41. Who will guarantee an increase of my yield?
As with nature we never know which climatic conditions we will face during the year, to give a guarantee is not possible. However, meanwhile over 2000 farmers in Germany and Austria have confirmed the effectiveness of the product. During their applications, they also reached yield increases.

42. What if the yields do not increase?
It can naturally happen that once in a while, AGROSOLution does not provide for a yield increase. If you have once had such an experience, then please contact us, so that we can work together in determining the cause. In the few past situations where such a situation occurred, the causes were determined to be unpredictable weather conditions or application error.
43. What are the benefits of the fertilizer technology AGROSOLution?
All tests so far, both institutional and practical, have shown the following effects:
               Increase in yield between 10 and more than 30%
               Increased stress resistance- both dry and wet stress
               Increase in photosynthetic activity
               Stronger and branched root system
               Optimization of the pH value of the plant and better nitrogen uptake
               Improved quality
               Improved shelf life

44. Is AGROSOLution and its functionality unique?
Many manufacturers of fertilizer or plant aid agents publicize similar benefits. The CO2 fertilizer for the open field is in this form currently unique.