Electric Field Air Bubbles Improve Crop Growth with Less Fertilizer

Greg Howard
2nd June, 2024

Electric Field Air Bubbles Improve Crop Growth with Less Fertilizer

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study from University College Dublin found that using electric field-based air nanobubbles (EF-ANBs) in irrigation significantly boosts crop germination and growth
  • EF-ANBs increased the germination rate of lettuce from 20% to 96% and basil from 16% to 53% in just two days
  • EF-ANBs also enhanced plant growth, with lettuce and basil showing 2.8- and 1.6-fold increases in hypocotyl elongation over six days
The advent of air nanobubbles (ANBs) has opened up a wide range of commercial applications spanning industries including wastewater treatment, food processing, biomedical engineering, and agriculture. The implementation of electric field-based air nanobubbles (EF-ANBs) irrigation presents a promising approach to enhance agricultural crop efficiency, concurrently promoting environmentally sustainable practices through reducing fertilizer usage. This study from University College Dublin investigated the impact of EF-ANBs on the germination and overall growth of agricultural crops in soil[1]. Results indicate a substantial enhancement in both germination rates and plant growth upon the application of EF-ANBs. Notably, the introduction of ANBs led to a significant enhancement in the germination rate of lettuce and basil, increasing from approximately 20% to 96% and from 16% to 53%, respectively, over two days. Moreover, the presence of EF-ANBs facilitates superior hypocotyl elongation, exhibiting a 2.8- and a 1.6-fold increase in the elongation of lettuce and basil, respectively, over a six-day observation period. The enriched oxygen levels within the air nanobubbles expedite aerobic respiration, amplifying electron leakage from the electron transport chain (ETC) and resulting in heightened reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, playing a pivotal role in stimulating growth signaling. This finding aligns with previous research indicating that ROS play a crucial role in seed germination and growth[2]. The controlled generation of ROS during seed imbibition helps in the perception and transduction of environmental conditions that control germination. Furthermore, the application of EF-ANBs in irrigation surpasses the impact of traditional fertilizers, demonstrating a robust catalytic effect on the shoot, stem, and root length, as well as the leaf count of lettuce plants. Considering these parameters, a single fertilizer treatment (at various concentrations) during EF-ANBs administration demonstrates superior plant growth compared to regular water combined with fertilizer. This is particularly significant given the ongoing efforts to reduce chemical-based fertilizers in agriculture. The findings underscore the synergistic interaction between aerobic respiration and the generation of ROS in promoting plant growth, particularly in the context of reduced fertilizer levels facilitated by the presence of EF-ANBs. This promising correlation holds significant potential in establishing more sustainable and environmentally conscious agricultural practices. Previous studies have already highlighted the potential of nanobubbles in various fields. For instance, nanobubbles have been shown to improve seed germination and plant growth in different plant species, with nitrogen nanobubbles exhibiting considerable effects[3]. The ability of nanobubbles to produce quasi-stable ROS on their surfaces has also been identified as a promising avenue for water treatment, as it allows for the oxidation of pollutants and pathogens without the need for harmful chemical oxidants[4]. By integrating EF-ANBs into agricultural practices, this study not only builds on the existing knowledge of nanobubbles but also expands their application into sustainable agriculture. The enhanced efficiency of nutrient utilization and the reduction in fertilizer usage present a compelling case for the adoption of EF-ANBs in modern farming, particularly in the face of increasing environmental concerns. In conclusion, the use of EF-ANBs in irrigation represents a significant advancement in agricultural technology. By enhancing germination rates and promoting plant growth through the generation of ROS, EF-ANBs offer a sustainable alternative to traditional fertilizers. This study from University College Dublin provides a strong foundation for further research and potential commercialization of EF-ANBs in agriculture, paving the way for more environmentally friendly farming practices.



Main Study

1) Electric field-based air nanobubbles (EF-ANBs) irrigation on efficient crop cultivation with reduced fertilizer dependency.

Published 31st May, 2024


Related Studies

2) The signalling role of ROS in the regulation of seed germination and dormancy.


3) Influences of Air, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Carbon Dioxide Nanobubbles on Seed Germination and Plant Growth.


4) Nanobubble Technologies Offer Opportunities To Improve Water Treatment.


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