This is an article from about 160 years ago, published in "The Journal of Agriculture", 1849. I have rephrased it where necessary. It is all about the effect of electricity on potato growth. Bear in mind that the terrible blight years in Ireland and elsewhere were 1845 and 1846.
NOTES ON ELECTRO-CULTURE OF THE POTATO CROP OF 1847
By Mr. George W. Hay, Whiterigg, Roxburghshire.
June 10: Placed wires around a plot of potatoes, the plot 7 yards by 28 yards. I enclosed ten drills, leaving five drills on the east and four on the west outside of the wires.
Two stakes 4 ft high were driven in at the middle of each end, and a pole of 18ft placed in the centre of the plot. A wire was passed over the pole and stakes and connected to the wire which enclosed the plot.
(Note from ND - no mention of the voltage or current or power suply. Batteries?)
The drills lay north to south and the wire was sunk three inches into the soil.
July 17: Up to this time the whole plot of potatoes showed the same growth; all dark green and perfectly healthy both above and below ground.
July 24: Examined the whole plot. The stems were quite sound, and the tubers fresh and clean. Had a few of the potatoes boiled. They were as good as late potatoes generally are at this time of yeat. Some of them were the size of hen's eggs.
Aug 20: Examined all of the potatoes, and saw no disease on the stems, leaves or roots of those which I lifted. The green and healthy appearance continues. There seems to be no difference between those enclosed by the wires and those not enclosed.
Sep 6: Commenced lifting the potatoes and found all of the potatoes sound and an excellent crop. No disease, and the stems quite fresh. It is better to lift them now, whilst dry, than to risk getting them destroyed by wet. In any case, the tubers are better for seed when taken up slightly early.
Sep 9: Had the last of the potatoes lifted today. There were thirteen drills of pink-skinned potatoes and six of purple-skinned, which were some years ago black throughout, and changed to white within the purple skin.
The yields were carefully measured, inside and outside the wires.
2 drills, purple, outside, west, 3 bushels, wt/bushel 4st 12.5 lb
2 drills, purple, inside, west, 3 bushels, wt/bushel 4st 12.5 lb
4 drills, pink, outside, east, 5.5 bushels, wt/bushel 4st 9.5 lb
4 drills, inside, east, 5.5 bushels, wt/bushel 4st 9.5 lb
It is clear that there is no difference in growth between the potatoes enclosed and not enclosed by the wires. Therefore there is no advantage in electro-culturing the ground. I am further convinced of this by the method being abandoned by others who have tried it. I had expected that my failure to notice any difference last year (when I began the investigation) would have produced a rebuttal from somebody finding the opposite, but no. I suspect all who have tried have found that there is no difference.
compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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