I work in the water industry in central New Jersey. It is not uncommon for neighboring water companies to be linked via “interconnection vaults” ? basically an underground cellar with valves and meters. One of our vaults is made of steel.
To prevent corrosion of the buried steel, cathodic protection was installed. Four anodes, averaging 15 milliamperes apiece, transmit a weak electric charge into the hull.
On top of the vault, in about a foot and a half of soil, a white pine was planted to conceal an electric panel. In the ten years since this tree was planted, it has thrived and is approaching the height of nearby white pines, which have been around much longer, despite having received no care of any kind. The vault is about 20 or 30 feet long and eight feet wide, and eight feet tall. The tree is about 30 or 40 feet tall I think, and the trunk is about a foot in diameter at the base. This tree has just weathered a severe drought this summer without any ill effects. A sump pump at the far end of the vault, emptying sample water from a turbidimeter at regular intervals into the ground underneath the vault may have been a factor during this very dry summer.
Knowing that plants use ions to move water and nutrients into their roots, it is possible that this tree is making use of this weak electric charge it is absorbing from the steel hull. It certainly hasn’t hurt it in any way. I can’t help but wonder if this has a practical use that could be researched.
Thanks for your observations. There has been some research conducted on the effect of a small current on plant yields. For information on these experiments visit Rex Research online at: www.rexresearch.com/articles/elcultur.htm. Or write to them at Rex Research, Box 19250, Jean NV 89019.
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