Technique of Plant Electrical Stimulation by Weak Electric Currents

Technique of Plant Electrical Stimulation by Weak Electric Currents

Alexander Smirnov (Federal Scientific Agroengineering Center VIM, Russia), Yuri Proshkin (Federal Scientific Agroengineering Center VIM, Russia), Alexander Sokolov (Federal Scientific Agroengineering Center VIM, Russia) and Sergey Kachan (Federal Scientific Agroengineering Center VIM, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3645-2.ch002
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The impact of electricity is described on plant growth and vegetation. The application of the electrical currents is discussed from the point of view of plant cultivation improvement in horticulture. Underlining that the electricity is an abiotic stress stimulant, the electricity use ways classification is given. The application of the electric currents and other similar influences can—directly or indirectly—affect plants causing a series of physiological and biochemical reactions. This technique enables the yield optimization and the fruits quality improvement by regulating the intensity and duration of the exposure according to different types and kinds of vegetables. In the area of an effective technique development of the plant electric stimulation, there are many aspects almost impossible to be taken into account within one experiment. An option for solving such problems is the compilation of the experimental databases, the introduction of the smart control systems, and the management of the technological processes of plant electric stimulation.
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The living plant behavior under external electric influences can be attributed to its amazing properties. Inside of the plants, bioelectric potentials are generated and they themselves are exposed to the effects of the atmospheric electricity. In plants, signals are distributed; for example, the root “informs” the stem when damaged, then the irritation is transmitted to the leaves; and while responding, all of them together change their root activity. Mainly, the damaged part becomes electrically negative in the range of 20-120mV depending on the type of the plant and other reasons (Gordeev et al., 1991).

There exists a potential difference between different organs of plants, for example, between separate parts of a stem, a root, a flower, etc. (Opritov et al., 1991). In different trees, between the electrode in the soil and the one in the stem, the potential difference reaches 0.1V - 0.7V (Kholmansky et al., 2016).

Plants are not indifferent to the electricity; this was established a long ago by scientific and amateur experiments both successful and ended in failure. In 1747, the French physicist Jean-Antoine Nollet published his results on germination accelerating of seeds exposed to an electrical field. In 1783, the French abbot Bertolon informed on the negative result obtaining in his experiment on the electricity effect. He concluded that the electricity results in delays of the plants germination and growth. The reason for his failure is similar to the results of the experiments of the Italian researcher Gardini, who screened his plants from the atmospheric electricity with a metal wire grid (Gordeev et al., 1991).

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