According to a recent study, scientists have created a new electronic soil that can boost barley seedling growth by 50%.
A recent study found that barley seedlings grew an average of 50% more with a newly designed eSoil (electronic soil) that promoted root systems. It is possible to employ low-power bioelectronic scaffolding for soilless growing techniques like hydroponics.
The Electronic Plants group, directed by Eleni Stavrinidou, an associate professor at Linköping University’s Laboratory of Organic Electronics, developed the electrically conductive culture substrate tailored for hydroponic production, which they are calling eSoil(Electronic soil).
Growing plants without soil by means of a water-based nutrition solution, an aggregate substrate, or a growing medium such as perlite or coconut coir is known as hydroponics. To guarantee that every seedling receives precisely the nutrients it requires, it makes use of closed systems that circulate water. This implies that all nutrients stay in the system and that very little water is required.
Mineral wool is a common culture substrate used in hydroponic systems. However, the methods used to make these wools are frequently energy-intensive and do not result in biodegradation. Cellulose, a biopolymer, is combined with PEDOT, a conductive polymer, to create eSoil. Linköping University claims that although this combination is not new, this is the first time it has been applied to plant cultivation.
High voltage has already been employed in previous research to stimulate the roots; however, eSoil has the advantage of very low energy usage and does not pose a risk from high voltage. The study demonstrated that barley seedlings may be grown hydroponically and that electrical stimulation accelerates their growth.
In addition to the growing global population, there is also climate change. Thus, it is evident that current agricultural practices will not suffice to provide for the planet’s food needs. However, we can grow food in very regulated circumstances, even in metropolitan areas, thanks to hydroponics,” Stavrinidou stated in a news release.
Stavrinidou claims that using eSoil(Electronic soil), seedlings may be grown more quickly and with fewer resources. “How it truly functions and the biological systems involved are yet unknown to us. It’s evident that seedlings absorb nitrogen more efficiently, but it’s unclear how electrical stimulation affects this process just yet, the researcher continued.
The researchers claim that eSoil(Electronic soil) can be beneficial in regions with limited arable land and challenging environmental circumstances, but they do not suggest that it can solve the issue of food security.