Ethylene-oxygen cycle

John Cropper j.cropper at
Thu Dec 13 22:24:19 EST 2001

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----- Original Message -----
From: "philcorbett" <philcorbett at>
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at>
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2001 6:01
Subject: Re: Ethylene-oxygen cycle

> Hi - I read about the ethylene -oxygen cycle while studying soil science
> prior to my PC course. There is a simplified version of it I believe in
> 'Towards an Holistic Agriculture' by Widdowson, published in the UK.
> I know longer have the book as I foolishly "lent" it to a student some
> ago, and neither book nor student have been seen since.
> It was out of print when I last checked. It is a very useful and
> book in many ways, with several inspiring chapters, and worth tracking
> Cheers, Phil
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Lawrence F. London, Jr." <lflondon at>
> To: "permaculture" <permaculture at>
> Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2001 5:48 AM
> Subject: Re: Ethylene-oxygen cycle
> I found this post from Keith in the archives:
> <>
> On Tue, 22 Feb 2000 23:52:12 -0500, in permaculture Keith Johnson
> <keithdj at> wrote:
> To quote from an article on Soil Fertility, by Lea Harrison, in the
> Permaculture
> Activist (#26, May 92):
> "Micro-organisms are extremely numerous in healthy soil; eg. one gram
> of healthy
> topsoil contains about 1,000 million bacteria. All the micro-organisms
> that break down
> organic matter, are aerobic organisms. That is, they can only function
> in the presence
> of oxygen. All plant pathogens, which cause plant diseases, are also
> aerobic organisms.
> Even in well aerated soils, aerobic organisms use up oxygen faster
> than it diffuses
> into the soil. This creates, at any tiime, many microsites without
> oxygen, all through
> the soil. Anaerobic bacteria, which function in the absence of oxygen,
> grow and
> multiply at these reduced microsites. They produce ethylene, which
> inactivates, but
> doesn't kill, aerobic micro-organisms. There is a complex rocking
> backwards and
> forwards between the functioning of aerobic and anerobic bacteria, all
> the time, at
> microsites scattered all through the soil."
> In brief, the ethylene is the cycling back and forth in soils between
> aerobic and
> anaerobic conditions. Under both conditions nutrients are rendered
> available which
> would not otherwise be so. Both parts are essential for healthy
> balanced soil.
> Keith Johnson
> L.F.London ICQ#27930345 lflondon at
>  london at
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