Starting with the first greenhouses, gases have been used to augment the growth and extend the viable storage life of many types of plants. As food technology has advanced in the 20th century, the understanding of exactly how gases work to assist in plant yield and preservation contributes to advancements in production and storage.
Most of the ammonia produced (80%) is used in agriculture as fertilizer. It can also be applied directly to soil as a plant nutrient. Ammonia binds airborne nitrogen and helps make it available in the soil. Ammonia is also used as a refrigerant gas and for purification of water supplies.
While it is most produced in ripening fruit, ethylene is also a byproduct of exhaust from engines, smoke, rotting vegetation and natural gas leaks; all of which can be harnessed and used for agricultural purposes. The agriculture industry has found a way to use this gas in high concentrations to quicken the natural ripening process of produce. By hastening the process in controlled ripening rooms, producers can get their products in the hands of consumers in a timely and economical way. Common produce that relies on hastened ripening before wholesale includes:
- - Bananas
- - Avocados
- - Tomatoes
- - Pears
- - Mangoes
- - Citrus fruits (de-greening)
Produce is often harvested long before it is ready to be eaten. Before heading to the grocery store, pallets of produce are taken to be ripened in humidity, temperature, and gas treated rooms. These rooms are about the size of storage units. When it arrives at the warehouse, it is stacked, just as it arrives, and carefully treated for ripening and de-greening. Depending on the type of produce and their current condition, different temperatures, levels of humidity and amounts of gases will be used. Humidity is usually increased to 85-95%, and temperatures are set around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Small amounts of carbon dioxide and larger amounts of ethylene are then pumped into the room for several hours. It is important that these rooms are well ventilated with vents and fans for safe air circulation, both for the quality of produce and the safety of employees when they return. Fruits like avocados and pears require refrigeration after ripening.
Recently, greenhouse gardeners and growers have begun to implement additional carbon dioxide into their work, whether that’s raising fruits, vegetables, flowers or cannabis plants. The trick to accelerating plant growth is to circulate more parts per million (ppm) of CO2 into these environments through the ventilation systems. Adding the supplementary CO2 to cannabis grow rooms and greenhouse operations will accelerate yields by 10-25%, resulting in more harvests per year and a greater profit. Leaves can grow 30% larger in size with increased CO2 intake. There are multiple techniques to utilizing CO2 in the cultivation industry, from CO2 bags to dry ice, but two methods continue to be the most common: Compressed Liquid CO2 and Combustion of Propane and Natural Gases.
Rocky Mountain Air serves the varied cultivation needs across our five-state geography by providing the gases needed, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and ethylene. As a leading atmospheric gas distributor in the Rocky Mountain region, we can serve greenhouses and grow rooms across the state to accelerate production.
At RMA we believe in flawless dependability, and our team is here to help you find solutions for your business. We can work with you to evaluate your usage and implement a delivery system that will be the most economical for your business, whether you need high-pressure cylinders for a small grow room, or a liquid CO2 tank for a larger greenhouse application. Contact your local branch today to speak with a representative. We look forward to serving you!