This is a controversial topic, but there is ample evidence from research that has been done showing that magnetism can be used to improve plant growth. Seeds can be magnetized and water can be magnetized and then used to water the plants. I've even read that fulvic acid, if I recall correctly, has magnetic properties. Anyway, here are some interesting links.
Would this ever occur naturally in nature? If so, permaculture would attempt to mimic it. If not, is it a permaculture topic?
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
Well, the magnetic strength of the Earth fluctuates over time. It was much stronger thousands of years ago. So by using magnetism to increase plant growth we are mimicking nature. As some scientists have pointed out, when we make magnets we are not producing the magnetism in them. Magnetism is a natural energy and we don't have the ability to create or destroy it, only to harness it.
And of course humic substances are produced by microorganisms breaking down organic matter.
I haven't tried it myself, but 'paramagnetic' soil amendments are available. As far as I can understand, paramagnetic soils will naturally have small magnetic fields form in reaction to the earth's natural magnetic field. In the absence of any magnetic field they have none of their own, they're simply reactive magnets. I have heard some very experienced gardeners speak well of these amendments. Most of these come in the form of rock dusts that include valuable minerals as well.
But don't feel like you have to run out and buy amendments to create these conditions. Apparently a healthy soil is already naturally paramagnetic if it has high organic content and a healthy soil food web.
It doesn't seem to matter what method you choose, improved soil health increases the potential magnetic effects. If you want to worry about the magnetic nature of your soil, you can absolutely do so as part of your permaculture activities. I'm still going to view it as more interesting trivia than a guiding focus in my garden.
When the Earth's magnetic field was far stronger, that alone influenced plant growth, as it still does today but less so. If there were appreciable amounts of magnetite near germinating seeds it would affect them at a genetic level too, in addition to Earth's magnetic field. That's what magnetism does.
Yes, but we don't create the electric current any more than we create the magnetic field. As Nikola Tesla said, the energy is already here. We just tap into it and use it for our own purposes. You can compare it to solar panels in a way. We don't create the sunlight we use to generate power with the panels.
If the magnetite has a magnetic field that's strong enough and is very close to the seeds it can increase their growth, but how it affects the soil properties is another matter.
You can debate me on this topic, never try an experiment, and never know whether or not it works. You can also do what I've done. Do some experiments and see the results for yourself. Everyone elses dismissal of it becomes a little saddening after that. If growers would only try it they would find out that it really does work.
My internet connection is crappy and more often than not I can't watch videos. But I would like more information about this and am interested in reading more about the science behind it. Does anyone have links to additional studies in text form? If Florida State is studying it have they published anything or is just in the early stages?
Years ago, I read on the internet some studies regarding this.
(And, NO. I no longer have links to it...that was several PCs ago, and bookmarks from that era are long gone.)
Of interest was that they exposed some of the seeds to the 'north' end of a magnet, while the others were exposed to the 'south' end. I can't recall which was which, but one group had higher germination rates, while the other group had greater growth rates.
If anybody is interested, that would be an interesting project.
See if their are measurable differences: N, S, and no exposure.
No exposure is going to be difficult as we are all living in the earths magnetic field
I accept there are animals that use the earths magnetic fields such as pigeons BUT
I don't see any difference in growth rates for plants growing underneath or above electric lines that I would expect if magnetism had a positive or negative effect .
So for me it's a none starter
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
In response to Eric's request for more print sources, I would suggest this book:
John Burke and Kaj Halberg
Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty
which explores the possibility that megalithic sites, of which there are hundreds in the northeastern US (at one time incorrectly identified as "colonial root cellars"), and thousands in the British isles and France, may have been constructed to enhance seed fertility, specifically increasing percentage of germination even of older seed, speeding growth, increasing size at maturity and disease resistance compared to untreated seed. The ancient technology, they contend, utilized natural magnetic properties of certain types of stone, and water, combined with discontinuities in the earth's electromagnetic field at ground level, enhanced by the sun at certain astronomical alignments. They discuss their own research putting these principles into practice.
As I lent out the book I can't look at it now but I believe it has a bibliography.
The person to whom I lent it has a megalithic structure on his property in western Mass and he says that he finds the book's arguments persuasive and they seem to fit the facts on his ground. It's a subject relevant to ordinary permaculturists as most of us have rocks, water, varied terrain and a not-unlimited budget for seeds.
"Magnetic field effects on plant growth, development, and evolution" Maffei 2014 Frontiers of Plant Science
Maffei evaluated the effect of magnetic fields on various plants, both at intensities higher and lower than the Geomagnetic field (GMF). The evidence is clear from multiple studies: there is an effect and in most cases it's positive. The majority of the positive effects (increase germination rates, increased plant growth, increased fruiting, etc) occur at MF levels higher than GMF. Maffei's paper discusses in great detail the specifics of the magnetic fields and is quite interesting.
I'm not a woo-woo farmer. I don't do anything "just in case" or that isn't rooted in demonstrated, repeatable results. Ok, maybe dancing naked by the light of the full moon after planting, but only because it's fun and annoys the neighbors. But for years I've noted effects on plant growth that led me to conclude there had to be an MF influence outside of the GMF of some kind. And in many ways it's just logical because of what we know about the GMF. Thus my interest in this.
Thank you Susana so much, I'm going to find that book. I often have much more faith in old knowledge than in modern science, simply because that knowledge was tested and improved upon under extremely pragmatic conditions... ie do or die. Coming from a science and engineering background gives me insight into it's limitations.
I've been thinking even if magnetism does help seeds grow ( I am not convinced ) how can we apply that to our gardens at anywhere near a coherent cost benifit analysis either in ecological terms or capitalist moneyterest terms ?
If it cost me 10 euros to increace the germination rate of my seeds from 80 to 90 % and the seeds cost 3 euro a packet I have saved about 30 cents ...... And how much carbon dioxide have I created in doing so ?
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
Let me a put a pragmatic spin on it. I'm a farmer.
I am always looking for ways to speed up and improve the starts in my greenhouse. If I can increase vigor or reduce the time to grow starts to the point of planting out, I can probably get to market faster. For me, a few days improvement can mean I'm coming to market with something that the other farms don't yet have, so of course I sell way more. In my case this would not result in a fuel savings since my GH is passive solar, but the difference between being first to market and second can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If the starts I'm putting in the ground are stronger and recover from transplanting faster, or are more vigorous and thus grow more, I am going to get more revenue from that planting. There are many ways I can optimize this -- more compost, more foliar feeding, row covers, even plastic "mulch" if I cared to go that route. All of these cost money, sometimes a lot, but they can increase yields by 25% or push the seasons by weeks. If I can get a 5% improvement for a fraction of the cost and by doing nothing but flipping a switch, it would be worth it.
David, you mention seeds. Seed cost is low but greenhouse space is always at a premium. If I can improve germination rates even 10%, I can save quite a bit of space and thus grow more or have a smaller greenhouse. If you are seeding 10,000 onions 10% is 1000 onions, or a final retail value of US$500 or more. The seed cost (I buy in bulk) there is only a few dollars at most.
The studies produced pretty clear results that indicate there is a measurable, verifiable and significantly positive effect in some cases. There is no mention of the energy requirements that I saw. You can bet that in any investigation of practical applications for commercial farmers, a cost-benefit analyses will be done. As I indicated before, most of us don't do woo woo, we do results. We have to.
I have no doubt this being a capitalist society even though I am a socialist that if there was a measurable effect that could be economically reproduced it would be and I would be able to buy a machine to reproduce it in my green house and you would be using one already
I had a look on eBay
Nothing yet although I accept that my heat mat being electric also has a magnetic field as a result of using electricity
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
South pole magnetized water will increase the germination rate as will magnetizing the seeds. The effects are more pronounced in some crops, but apply to all of them. Effectively magnetizing large quantities of seeds would require seed magnetizers like the ones Davis and Rawls invented 40 years ago. As far as I know they aren't available now. A farmer who only has a small number of acres, on the other hand, can magnetize seeds for some plants that grow large like watermelons, tomatoes, etc., with magnets. Davis and Rawls used a biomagnetic tape for this. You can put hundreds of tomato seeds, for example, on just one foot of this tape. It's very cost effective.
Magnetizing water is very cost effective too. Magnets can be attached to irrigation hoses and they will magnetize the water as it passes through their magnetic field. The water will speed germination and increase growth in the crop. A simple experiment will show that.
Here is another pdf on humic substances. This one consists of chapter summaries of a book about humic substances titled, Humic, Fulvic and Microbial Balance: Organic Soil Conditioning. This quote is from page 27. "Fulvic acids, for example, have an influence on water in that the nuclei of atoms within the water are charged or magnetized; thus, minerals and compounds are involved in a specific magnetic configuration, assisting in the informational message to the plant's DNA."
An interesting thread! Boral the Australian road base company sold something magnetic some years ago. Basalt is sometimes used to increase the mineral content of the soils. They found out that they had some mines were the basalt was magnetic and sold this as fertilizer. Unfortunately they gave this up and concentrated on their core business.