I've been studying the effects of electricity upon plants and soils for the past few years now and have learned that there are a number of cool things that electricity does to plants, bacteria, soils and the like. In brief, in plants it causes a wide array of physiological changes ranging from increased respiration and metabolic activity, changes to leaf & stem pigmentation (increases sugar production, sunlight conversion efficiency), increases in fluid/nutrient uptake, and more. In bacteria, it has similar effects upon metabolism and reproduction rates, etc. There is a lot of variability within all of these claims, and if you're curious to learn more, one my big sources came from a book packed with lots of research: Plant Electrophysiology, multiple authors, edited by Volkov - it's a great (technical) reference. Another source of knowledge in this area comes from the realm of land remediation... in particular, the branch of electrokinetic remediation. In it we learn that though the application of DC electric fields, that we can electrically transport ions, colloids, water, and even bacteria.
So, I have some ideas for applications of this technology that I would like to share with you. Here are some of my initial ideas:
Electrically transporting nutrients from manure piles to where places where it would be desired in a field or otherwise
(Per a recent blog post of mine), electrically moving toxic root exudates (e.g. juglone (black walnut)) away from desired crops
Electrically influencing the growth of roots away from toxic soil regions (or towards beneficial regions like water sources)
One of the things I love about permaculture is the inventiveness of the founders and the community. I think if we could find ways of creatively harnessing electricity in the ag space, we could realize a whole slew of new benefits that could be of great help to growers worldwide.
What are your thoughts? Has anyone here ever tried anything like this?
- Founder, ElectricFertilizer.com
- Interested in engineering, permaculture, energy medicine, and technology-enhanced ecological systems