Study looks to oxygen as solution for flooded fields

  • A new study applied calcium peroxide and magnesium peroxide to flooded snap bean plants and tested the productivity of different solid oxygen fertilizer rates.
  • The flooded plants that received either peroxide application grew taller and produced higher yields than the flooded control plants.
  • Snap beans were tested for their quick growth, but researchers anticipate the treatment would work for other Florida field crops that face flooding concerns.

Flooded fields can be a problem for Florida farmers, with various locations across the Sunshine State averaging some 40-60 inches of rainfall per year.

In spite of this, Florida still ranks No. 1 in the nation in production of several crops. This includes snap beans, the subject of a new study from University of Florida scientists that evaluated a technique to lessen the impact of floods on this $84 million industry in the state.

The study, led by Guodong (David) Liu, associate professor in the UF/IFAS horticultural sciences department, found that flooded young snap beans showed more resilience with the addition of solid oxygen fertilizers. The researchers tested calcium peroxide and magnesium peroxide.

snap bean plants
Photos from the trial show the flooded plant with no oxygen fertilizers (left), contrasted with the plants that received calcium peroxide (center) and magnesium peroxide (right). (Credit: Danyang Liu)

“We know that flooding suffocates plants,” Liu said. This hypoxic stress, as he explained, means the plants can’t get enough oxygen to take up the nutrients in the soil that plants need to grow.

“We also know, from our previous research, that soils amended with oxygen fertilizers may reduce that stress, minimizing the damage from flooding or hurricanes,” Liu said.

In the study, plants were divided into three groups. One group was watered as normal. Another group received an abundance of water, while a third group received an abundance of water plus oxygen fertilizers. This third group received different amounts of calcium peroxide or magnesium peroxide.

“We were evaluating the best amount of solid oxygen fertilizer that would keep the plant alive and productive,” Liu said, “while also finding the most economical rate.”

snap bean plants
Photos show the snap bean plants with different calcium peroxide rates tested. (Credit: Danyang Liu)

The flooded plants that received either peroxide application grew taller and produced higher yields than the flooded control plants, some by as much as 50%, although neither treatment produced as much as the non-flooded plants. The highest yields came at the rate of 2 grams for calcium peroxide and 8 grams for magnesium peroxide per container with a single plant.

“We used the snap bean in this study for its quick growing season, but all vegetable crops require the same oxygen and can suffer hypoxic stress,” Liu said. “Oxygen fertilizers should be useful for other crops we grow in Florida, and may also help combat stressors like salinity in coastal areas experiencing sea-level rise.”

The study, “Effects of oxygen fertilization on damage reduction in flooded snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.),” is available in the journal “Scientific Reports”:

Featured image: A soybean trial field at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, Florida, flooded one day after Hurricane Sally. Sept. 17, 2020. (credit: AgroClimate Field Camera, UF/IFAS)


Posted: May 26, 2022

Category: UF/IFAS
Tags: Crop, David Liu, Horticultural Sciences, Oxygen Fertilizer

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