The use of ‘electric fertilizer’, that is – the application of electricity to plants and/or soils, can significantly reduce the amount of fertilizer that’s normally needed, improve soil conditions, and make more efficient use of the nutrients already present in the soil, resulting in a significant reduction in the production cost of your garden’s crop. Take a look at the concept map below for a visual representation of the areas of benefit.
These benefits have been determined not only from experimenters from over a hundred years’ ago, but also from modern scientists studying the phenomena as well. While the earliest observations recognized a significant boost in yield and and a reduction in the time to maturity, later on in the history of electroculture (as it was known to be called), scientists ran many studies that helped reveal additional benefits that can be gained from the use of growing methods that involve pure electricity.
Starting with the the green colored boxes which emphasize the effects on the growth of plants themselves, you can see first that it results in an overall increase in stem growth and stalk growth. This can be attributed to both an increase in the growth rate as well as a lengthening of the cell walls. The leaves are also affected, as they not only grow more abundantly, but they also end up with a larger surface area and a deeper green color, signifying increased amounts and activity of chloroplasts inside of the leaves. The net result of this is an improvement in photosynthesis, and a subsequent increase in the plant’s own production of food.
With leaves operating at optimal capacity, growing both large and lush, the plant now has the capability to improve it’s flowering and fruiting ability. There have been observations of flowers with brighter and more colorful blooms, and fruits and vegetables that not only grow faster, but in greater numbers and of larger size as well!
Moving on to the yellow, red, and purple-colored boxes, other effects have been observed. The increased absorption of fertilizer is one aspect that can be attributed to how electric fields applied to the roots of plants affects their ability to bring nutrients into themselves. Other mechanisms at work include a phenomena called electromigration that helps to loosen electrically-charged nutrients that are stuck to various particles of soil and other organic matter, helping them move more freely within the soil layer, making for their absorption by nearby plant roots to be much easier. At the same time, the applied electric field can force water molecules through the soil, which through careful electrode placement, can help with moving water from normally drenched portions of your land to other areas that tend to be drier.
Image Source: Universida de Vigo
If plants are more capable of creating the nutrients they need through photosynthesis while simultaneously getting more nutrients inside of them through these other methods of nutrient transport, then it’s probably safe to say that there would be a higher levels of nutrients present in the fruits, vegetables,and seeds produced by the plant, making not only the plants more healthy, but us also as consumers of plant products.
While there isn’t much information out there on whether electricity is good against pests, there is at least one reference that describes how some tree pests can be deterred when electricity is applied to trees directly. Taking this a step further, there is a good amount of research that shows how various plant pathogens in the form of bacterial or viral infections can be eradicated through these methods.
Lastly, some early experimental gardeners have made claims that electrified produce tastes better as well. While I have yet to do a taste comparison, perhaps others who have run their own experiments can chime in on how well this statement holds true.