Does magnetism affect plant growth?
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Does magnetism affect plant growth?
Magnetism and magnetic fields influence a lot of things in our lives. From directing the compass to raising and lowering the tide, it shapes how we live our lives. Their effects have been known and used for thousands of years in many fields, including exploration, machinery… and farming! The effects of magnetism in the first two fields are well known, but many people doubt if magnetism has any effect on crop production.
Even before humans learned about magnetism, we noticed that certain patches of land are more productive than others, and plants planted in certain periods tend to grow better than others. This knowledge can be seen in many places, including ancient Egypt, where they timed their planting based on the moon and other astrological signs, and ancient china, which based their entire calendar on the lunar cycle.
Modern-day science is still unable to fully explain how magnetism affects plant growth, but there are many theories. The three main ones being:
magnetic forces alter the membrane structure of the seed
Magnetism purifies water
Magnetic fields simulate gravity, which speeds up auxin growth.
The first one is exactly as it sounds. Magnetism affects plants in ways that we still aren’t fully aware of yet, but one of the results is that with certain magnetic fields, plant membrane structures can be altered to absorb more nutrition and water so that the seed would grow faster. This is theorized to be one of the main reasons why ancient civilizations planted based on the moon.
The second theory is also quite simple. Water is rarely pure. Most of the water that we use to water our plants or hydrate our crops have many minerals that cannot be absorbed. In some cases, exposing this water to a strong magnetic force can change these minerals into ones that the plant can absorb, so when this water is used to water the plant, it provides more useful minerals and leaves less waste.
An example of this would be purifying saltwater. As anyone who has ever watered a plant should know, you have to use fresh water to water plants. Saltwater has many poisonous minerals, which can potentially kill the plant, and the salt will accumulate on the soil surface. This can retard the plants’ ability to absorb nutrients. Magnets can solve this problem. Certain magnetic fields can weaken the bond within hydrated ions, freeing the salt ions from the hydrogen atoms. Further treatments of the water can either separate the salt and other impurities from the water or make them absorbable to the plant.
To summarize, in this situation, the magnetism is not really affecting the plant’s growth, but rather purifying the water that it needs to grow.
Speeding up the auxin growth is much more complicated.
Auxins are growth hormones that are inside of plant cells. It can cause the plant cell to grow elongated. The more auxins that are inside of a plant cell, the longer it grows.
Auxins’ growth rates are affected by a variety of factors, and directly impacts the growth of the plant, so it essentially acts as the information processor for the plant. After it receives and processes information, it acts to this information. An easy way to understand this process would be to compare these auxins to electrons. They move towards certain things, and away from others, causing “positive and negative charges”
An example of this process would be phototropism. This is when the auxins react to light by pointing towards it. This is a perfectly balanced portion of the plant stem. There are two auxins inside of each cell, so they are all equal in length, meaning that the plant grows straight up. When light hits the cells, however, the auxins will “move” away from the light. This results in one side, the one with more auxins, being “negative” and the side with fewer auxins being “positive”. The negative side has more auxins, and as I previously mentioned, more auxins mean more elongated cells. This causes the negative side to being much longer than the positive side, so the entire stem bends towards the positive side.
Now, how does all this relate to our magnetism theory? Well, auxins not only react to light, but they also react to gravity.
Auxins are affected by gravity by going lower, meaning that if the stem isn’t straight, there will be more auxins on the lower part of the stem than there are on the higher part. This means that auxins will always make the plant grow away from the ground. Taking an extreme example, if the stem is horizontal, all the auxins will gather at the bottom, making it take a 90-degree turn and point straight up. Now we can finally relate all this to magnetism. A powerful enough magnetic fields can simulate gravity. A powerful enough magnetic field can simulate gravity, and forces all the auxins to act to nothing but itself, meaning that the plants will ignore “distractions” and grow straight up. This process is known as negative geotropism.
To summarize, this process uses magnetic fields to fool the auxins in a plant to ignore all other factors and grow straight up, speeding up its growth process.
In conclusion, does magnetism affect plant growth? Both yes and no. Placing a fridge-door magnet beside a flower won’t help it grow faster, but using super-charged magnets on entire fields of crops can dramatically increase their growth speed. Magnetism can also be used in a variety of other ways to affect plant growth, including changing a seed’s membrane structure to allow it to absorb more water and minerals, purifying water to make it more useful to plants, and using magnetic fields to create a super-strong gravitational force that tricks plants into only growing straight.
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