I’d like to introduce you to an electro-horticulture experiment I started in February of 2011 that had the most amazing outcome… That over the course of about 2 months I was able to get one set of plants to grow more than 200% bigger than another set by adding just a tiny bit of electricity into the soil!

Electro-horticulture experiment results after 1 month

One of the techniques of electroculture, described in a number of books and articles from the the late 1890s through the early 1920s was the creation of an “Earth battery” which consisted of a copper plate at one end of a row and a zinc plate at the other end. Attached to both plates was a piece of rebar connected to each plate by a wire. Then, both plates were connected by a copper wire strung above-ground. When the soil was sufficiently damp, a minute electric current could be measured.

In these historical experiments, a number of positive results were observed including an increase in crop yields of 20% – 400%, decreased time to fruit, and increased resistance to disease. Similar results came from applying DC between the base and the top of fruit-bearing trees.

To get started I adapted the idea for my own situation figuring that I could get a similar effect by using a common DC power supply from an old cell-phone charger. After removing the charging connector and stripping the wires down so I could attach a nail to each terminal, I placed each nail on opposite sides of the growing container and filled over them with soil. I then proceeded to plant some Romanesco broccoli seeds into some Happy Frog® organic potting soil (2/5/11). For the first week I kept the power on for 12-hours per day. Then I figured that it would be better to go all-out and keep power applied 24/7.

After about 1 week, the experimental group (there was a control group also – non-electrified) had stalks about 2x as long as the control group.

After the 2nd week, the leaves on the experimental group were looking a little strange to me… there was a light-green band along the perimeter of the larger leaves. I didn’t know what it meant, and assumed the experiment wasn’t working in a positive manner.

After the 1st month, the difference between both groups was astonishing! While they both were exposed to identical conditions, except for the electricity flowing through the root-structure, the experimental group had leaves that were almost twice as wide as the control, and furthermore, the entire plant had a lush deep-green color to it while the control was more of a pale green. Check out the pictures below:

dc electroculture 2011 - exp - 1 month broccoli

Romanesco broccoli after 1 month with 5VDC applied to roots

dc electroculture 2011 - control - 1 month broccoli

Romanesco broccoli (control group) after 1 month

Electro-horticulture experiment results after 1 month

Side-by-side comparison 32 days after the above photos

As you can see from the pictures, the differences between them after 1 month are quite significant.  In the next photo (please excuse my bad picture-taking), you can see the electrified broccoli in the background, towering over the entire control-group which includes mostly broccoli along with some other varieties like cauliflower.

Electro-horticulture experiment of Romanesco Broccoli

Final result of electrified broccoli vs. regular broccoli after 48 days

Another view of the final version while it was still indoors:

A Better View of The Experimental Broccoli Plants

A Better View of The Experimental Broccoli Plants

While this experiment ended up as a great success, after transplanting outside I no longer tracked their progress in comparison with the other plants.

As a side note, I realized that after running some other experiments in the summer of 2011, I realized that I have a hard time keeping track of comparative progress of my experiments outside.  It gets too weedy and there are too many things going on that I need to keep track of.  Perhaps someday that will change.  So, to work around my issues with keeping track of progress outdoors,  in the future I plan on focusing on mostly controlled indoor experiments.

Has anyone tried this type of experiment before?  Leave a comment and let me know.

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  • Adam Beatty

    Wow! great experiment that anyone can do; may mention ya in one of my articles. I also plan to try this myself when I start growing food indoors.

    Also just a tip; take pictures with a sun glasses lense; over the camera lense. Will help to show actual color; there also special sun glasses made for this; I have found normal ones work; although maybe not as well as design specific ones.

  • Pdas

    Hey David, great experiment. One question- Can we use this technology in farming as well and not just garden farming. Doing a story on global agri-tech that India needs to adopt. Would like to quote you from your article also. Request you to respond to me at the earliest. Regards, Purba, Asst. Editor, Electronics For You, India