Aerobic vs Anaerobic Bacteria Explained

How Do Aerobic Bacteria Live?

Before getting into the details of how aerobic bacteria live, it is first necessary to know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic. As the name suggests one needs oxygen to function and the other does not. Aerobic bacteria, in this case, are the ones that require an oxygenated environment with a higher pH. In our BACTREX and MYCOTREX products are both biological agents that will introduce beneficial bacteria to the root system of your plants.

This is the reason why we encourage customers to brew our PK BOOSTER COMPOST TEA for 24 hours, prior to application. The reason being aerobic bacteria require only a short amount of time to develop from millions in to billions, and it is the fungi present in a solution of microbes that require the full 24 hours. Naturally brewing for 24 hours will ensure that the biological activity is at its highest.

Already coexisting aerobic bacteria in soil will attach themselves to the hairs on the roots and form symbiotic relationship.

Until the point of contact with a plant, the beneficial bacteria present will remain and only multiply as they have access to fresh air in an aerated growing medium such as fresh earth.

How Are Anaerobic Bacteria Different?

This is the bacteria group that can wipe out the good aerobic bacteria, causing an infection in vulnerable plants. The root zone is often the first place to be infected by attacking pathogens from water logged containers and stagnant trays. The quality of the water will diminish over time and as time passes, the water source containing the anaerobic bacteria will reduce in pH and become acidic.

Acidic environments and low oxygen are the same way that cancers survive in the human body, and as plants and people are so closely related, it gives you a good idea of how bad bacteria can enter a growing medium and thrive. The signs of a water source containing anaerobic bacteria will be murky coloured with a serious odour, which may be similar to Sulphur or sewage. Stagnant swamp conditions are the easiest way to express how anaerobic bacteria live compared to aerobic bacteria.

What About pH?

Once you understand how each type of bacteria differ, then applying a pH chart to each will give you a clear idea of the oxygen content that should be present. Dissolved oxygen increases pH and is something that hydroponic growers using DWC systems must be vigilant of.

Ensuring that a nutrient solution or water source is well oxygenated with adequate amounts of dissolved oxygen, is one way to ensure that you keep the aerobic bacteria at peak performance. Also the level of potential hydrogen should match the type of beneficial microorganisms you are growing with.

Hydrogen Peroxide and U.V.B.

At a ratio close to 10%, hydrogen peroxide has many benefits when growing with hydroponics. The main benefit being no bacteria of any type has the ability to survive. Most growers who use hydro and grow with chemicals, aim to keep a clinically clean garden and a high strength peroxide is certainly one way to do that. Unfortunately hydrogen peroxide at any ratio will discourage the life of aerobic bacteria and should not be combined with a nutrient solution containing beneficial bacteria such as BACTREX and MYCOTREX.

Another important fact to know is that U.V. will also kill bacteria both good and bad. In Japan for example the use of U.V. cleaning lights for hotels and public bathrooms, ensure that no virus or bacteria can physically survive under the bandwidth of U.V.B. Using U.V. cleaning lights for maintaining nutrient reservoirs is an excellent method to keep your water source sterile clean.

Understanding The Biochar Role

If you have not heard about biochar by now, then you are missing out. Created from the most simple process using heat and wood, carbon is captured from the wood leaving behind an incredibly enhanced structure. To give you an example of how porous biochar is, a small piece the size of a centimetre squared, could unfold and stretch out revealing its structure and cover the length of a football field.

This organic substrate that has such water holding capabilities, can retain nutrients deep within its structure and leach them back to the earth as and when needed. How aerobic bacteria and fungi interact with biochar is by allowing all of the microscopic hairs that are an extension of the root zone to push through into the tiniest crevices imaginable.

What makes biochar such a favourite material amongst die hard organic farmers is that it can last for thousands of years before losing efficiency and its ability to retain both minerals and moisture. The other thing everyone loves about biochar is how it provides a lifetime source of carbon for all aerobic bacteria and other beneficial organisms to use.

The Soil Food Web Explained

Now you have an idea of how beneficial bacteria and fungi interact with the earth, you will better understand the importance of symbiosis. Once a plant’s roots bind with the microorganisms, a new way of feeding will occur that requires the plant to do very little work. Imagine an intense network of neurons and pathways that are working overtime, and you will get a good idea of what is happening in the depths of the soil.

Once a network of roots, bacteria and fungi have established themselves in the growing medium, the uptake of minerals and nutrients will be far quicker than without any type of beneficial microorganisms. This was the way mother nature intended and one of the reasons why organic growers are graced with a 72 hour buffering zone when using organics and using aerobic bacteria.

The Conclusion

Oxygen breathes life into all things on the planet from humans to fish to bacteria and fungi. Using products such as BACTREX, MYCOTREX and our PK BOOSTER COMPOST TEA will only encourage the uptake of nutrients faster as well as increasing root mass by up to 700% as well as enhancing plant resistance to disease and viruses. It is possible for both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria to compete and fight one another, with one group becoming more dominant depending on the amount of oxygen present, the pH and the amount of time a solution is in a stagnant state.

If you ever suspect a water source is turning bad and is developing anaerobic bacteria, then simply add an air source using an air stone or fish tank pump. This is also a great tip for those who store rain water in a basement and allow the water to sit in darkness with no aeration. Using hydrogen peroxide to cleanse and kill anaerobic bacteria is fine, on the basis that you re-introduce the aerobic bacteria and fungi back once everything is sterile clean again.