The greenhouse gas CO2 was considered as plant nutrient when its role in photosynthesis identified. Kimball (1983) analyzed the response of 430 crop species. Strain and Sionit (1982) edited 778 references to demonstrate CO2-induced increase in growth and productivity of crop plants. The positive impact of elevated CO2 was recognized as early as 1888 in England for food crops and flowers (Lundegardh, 1920–23). Brown and Escombe (1902) reported negative effects of CO2 as downward curling of leaves and aborting of buds, which were attributed to the impurities in the CO2. Sixteen species of plants, which were grown in CO2-enriched (1500ul/l-1) greenhouses, showed a 160% increase in plant weight varying from 97% for Fuchsia to 262% for Geranium. Cummings and Jones (1909–1914) did first field experiment using CO2 produced by mixing Na2CO3 and H2SO4 and demonstrated increased yields of pods and seeds of peas and beans, larger potato tubers, heavier leaves and early fruits, and higher yield of strawberries; however, no detail is given as to how the concentration of CO2 was measured and supplied for 8 hrs per day to these crops. The CO2 produced by burning of charcoal, coal gas, per peats, and purified gas from smelter and furnaces was used for growing greenhouse vegetables in Northern Europe. Reinae (1931–1917) reported the beneficial use of CO2 fertilization in 6000 nurseries for commercial vegetable and flower growing in Germany. The old Chestnut Experimental Station in England (1926–1930) found an increase of 30% in the yield of greenhouse tomatoes due to CO2 enrichment. However, they did not recommend the CO2 enrichment technology for the commercial use. Interest has been aroused in the commercialization of greenhouse crop production in the western world during 1961 when Dutch grower Gravenzande marketed winter lettuce of greater weight and better quality. Subsequently 4000 acres of lettuce were grown in CO2-enriched environment in the Netherland in 1961. Gaastra (1959) made physiological studies on the process of photosynthesis in CO2 grown tomato and cucumber. Goldsberry and Holey (1962) reported the use of CO2 fertilization in the flowering industry by inducing higher yield, better flower texture, and shorter production cycle along with other benefits (Wittwer 1986; Uprety 2014). Many papers relating to the use of CO2 enrichment technologies appeared in International Horticultural Congress in 1962. However, no such papers were published from the USA. USA has not used CO2 enrichment in greenhouse environment till 1960. Keeling in his first observation reported an exponential rise in the atmospheric CO2 from 315 ul/l-1 in 1958 to 344 in 1976. Elevated CO2-controlled greenhouses were beneficial for many vegetables and flower crops during the months of spring. However, there is little benefit of additional CO2 in an adequately ventilated greenhouse. (*Quoted from Wittwer (1986)) (Table 5.1).
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