Updated: Mar 13, 2020
None of these elements are in reality more important than the others. Nutrient elements are like everything else in nature's design; they all work together. Try and avoid the whole perception that there is some kind of "magic trick" within special nutrients only, because they are all important. Another important aspect of indoor growing is never forgetting about the living soil microbes. They require all these same elements themselves, especially oxygen, nitrogen, and calcium.
Carbon and oxygen are absorbed from air, while other nutrients including water are obtained from soil. Microgreens must obtain the following mineral nutrients from the growing media:
Primary Macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K)
Secondary Macronutrients: calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg)
The Macronutrients: Silicon (Si)
Micronutrients: boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se), and sodium (Na)
Carbon forms the backbone of many microgreens bio-molecules, including starches and cellulose. Carbon is fixed through photosynthesis from the carbon dioxide in the air and is a part of the carbohydrates that store energy in the microgreens.
Hydrogen also is necessary for building sugars and building the microgreens. It is obtained almost entirely from water. Hydrogen ions are imperative for a proton gradient to help drive the electron transport chain in photosynthesis and for respiration.
Oxygen is necessary for cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is the process of generating energy-rich adenosine triphosphate (ATP) via the consumption of sugars made in photosynthesis. Microgreens produce oxygen gas during photosynthesis to produce glucose, but then require oxygen to break down this glucose.
According to the Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State University
Elemental analysis data and microbial counts for microgreens from the three growing treatments (HFG, HW, and C) were examined by the Shapiro Test for normality and the Fligner–Kileen Test for homoscedasticity using R software [version 3.2.2, R (25)]. Based on the results of these tests, a non-parametric Welch’s ANOVA (α = 0.05) followed by a Bonferroni Correction for multiple comparisons was utilized to determine if there were significant differences among the means for each of the three growing treatments with respect to microbial counts, protein concentrations, and elemental concentrations. The elemental concentration of microgreens was compared with that of mature, raw broccoli (vegetable) produced on industrial farms based on nutrient data in the USDA SR21 database.
The harvested fresh mass in grams (gfw) differed significantly among the three growing treatments (F2.000, 6.447 = 17.8056, P-value = 0.002368). The average (n = 5) fresh mass of microgreens harvested from the HFG treatment (24.64 ± 0.32 gfw) was statistically greater than the average fresh mass harvested from the C treatment (20.00 ± 0.73 gfw, P-value = 0.0066) or the HW treatment (21.01 ± 1.23 gfw; P-value = 0.0310). The dry mass fraction for the three growing treatments ranged from 7.2 to 9.3%, falling within the same range noted for 25 different microgreens studied by Xiao et al. (18). The average dry masses (gdw) harvested from experimental replicates (n = 5) did not differ significantly among treatments (F2.000, 5.671 = 2.5156, P-value = 0.1652) and ranged from 1.53 to 1.96 gdw. The average water fraction (n = 5) for each of the growing treatments was as follows: C (0.913 ± 0.002), HFG (92.5 ± 0.1), and HW (91.0 ± 0.2).
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