Electromagnetic technology shows promise for better crop yield
In Chile's northern desert, water access is a constant struggle. To address the needs of this dry region, a group of researchers from the Water Technology Center (CENTA) in Tarapaca has teamed up with the Agrarian Innovation Fund to optimize water resources.
With a CLP$73 million (US$140,000) investment, the project will use an electromagnetic device to improve the yield of vegetable crops.
The technology functions by generating an electromagnetic field in water and increasing its soluble capacity. The device stabilizes pH while boosting the metabolic and physiologic capacity of the plants.
Project director Raúl Fernández said the technology was developed in Cuba, where researchers discovered that application of a magnetic field to seeds and then plants improved development and growth.
"We are developing a device that produces an electromagnetic field and we are applying it to river water. So we magnetized the water and the hypothesis is that this will improve plant development," Fernández said.
Previously, a similar technique was developed using magnets. Fernández said this method is less efficient, however, given the limited electromagnetic field.
"What we are doing is creating an electronic electromagnetic field. We don't use magnets but rather an electric coil and that allows much more flexibility in its application. It covers a much wider range and we think this is going to be much better than the application of magnets," he said.
According to Fernández, universities in Cuba, Colombia and Spain have shown the efficiency of the electric coil technique on certain vegetable species.
"We're applying this technique to vegetables for a very simple reason: the project is a year long and we don't have much time. If this would have been a two-year project, we probably would have sought out longer-term species, like fruit crops," he said.
Fernández said the device is already ready and that field tests are underway. He expected the device to be fully functional in 10-to-15 days.
"Next week we will be in a position to apply the device to the plants. We are waiting for them reach a certain grade of vigor. Everything is installed but we gave ourselves this time because we didn't want to apply it to small plants that could die in the process," he said.
The researchers hope to apply the technology on a mass level in 2014.