Living cells and tissues make use of electrical charges as a way to move needed materials in and out of cells. Not surprisingly, the use of electricity to stimulate plant growth has remained a topic of inquiry for over 250 years. And while no established research exists, the effects of electricity on plant life may affect overall plant health in terms of growth and development and enhance soil fertility.
Plant Health Effects
Electroculture and magnetoculture represent two fields of study that examine the effects of electricity on plants. In addition to generated electrical fields, magnetoculture addresses the effects of the Earth's and atmosphere's magnetic effects on plants, according to Magnetoculture, an electroculture reference site. As electrical charges work to regulate metabolism processes in cells and tissues, directing electricity into or onto plant structures may further stimulate these same processes. In doing so, plants become more resistant to cold temperatures, diseases and pest invaders. A research study conducted in 1962 by the Department of Biomedical & Environmental Health Sciences in California examined the effects of air ion generators on greenhouse plants. Results from the study show plant cells had higher levels of minerals along with a higher ascorbic and citrus acid content in the fruit plants. Incidents of disease and pest infestation were minimal.
Growth and Development Effects
The effects of electricity on plant cell metabolism processes can also contribute to plant growth and development depending on how its administered, according to a 1985 New York Times article on electricity and plant growth. Research conducted in 1985 by the Imperial College in London examined the effects of electrical current on tobacco plant cells grown in a laboratory setting. Results from the study showed growth rates increased or decreased depending on the direction of the electrical current, meaning negative currents promoted growth rates while positive currents had an inhibitory effect. The results of the experiment occurred gradually with noticeable changes apparent after 10 days and dramatic changes taking shape after 22 days.
Soil Fertility Effects
The effects of electricity from the atmosphere impacts plant life processes through currents absorbed by soil environments. According to Magnetoculture, electricity from the atmosphere transfers into soil environments through rain water that falls during thunderstorms. Evidence of electromagnetic activity also exists around volcanic rock dust, which can produce fertile soil environments. One method for transferring electrical currents into the soil places metal cylinders into the ground alongside plants and seedlings so that a portion of the cylinder remains above ground, according to the Countryside & Small Stock Journal. In doing so, the electrical charges from the Earth move upward through the metal and stimulate plant cell activities and nutrient uptake from the soil.