Electromagnetic Field Impacts on Crops

There is a wealth of research on the negative impacts of above ground high voltage power line electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on human and animal health, safety, the environment, property values and aesthetics (see RETA Fact Sheets); but significantly less research on EMF impacts on plants. RETA has just been made aware of a December 2007 Ph.D. thesis that reported on the effects of EMFs on cultivated crops and vegetation in natural forests.

The research, conducted by S. Somasekaran through the Madurai Kamaraj University in India, studied the effects of overhead high voltage power line 230 kilovolt and 110 kilovolt EMFs on four selected crops: black gram (black lentil), maize (corn), cow pea (field pea), and rice. In both field and laboratory studies, where experimental plants exposed to EMFs  and control plants not exposed to EMFs were compared, the following growth and physiological characteristics of the four crop plants  were reduced significantly for exposed plants: shoot length, root length, leaf area, leaf fresh weight, specific leaf weight, shoot/root ratio, total biomass content and total water content. A similar trend was reported in biochemical characteristics including chloropyll a, b and total content; carotenoid content, soluble sugar, soluble starch; and soluble protein.

Reduced growth and physiological factors were due primarily to the negative effect of EMFs on cell division and cell enlargement. The reduction in growth, and physiological and biochemical parameters of the crop plants was greater in close proximity to the 230kV power lines than to the 110kV lines.

The author concluded that overhead high voltage power line EMFs cause stress in these crop plants which negatively affects production, leading to economic loss.

Somasekaran also studied the effects of high voltage power line EMFs on natural vegetation, and found the number of herbaceous species, the number of taxonomic families and the herb diversity indices were all higher in a natural control forest than in a forest under high voltage transmission lines.

Results of this research can most certainly be extrapolated to other cultivated crop and natural vegetation species around the world.  One would expect that farmers and forest harvest companies would be concerned about such economic losses associated with overhead high voltage power lines. Buried power lines would cause no such losses.

~ by RETA on June 21, 2011.

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