Chinese scientists are exposing crops to powerful electric fields in an attempt to make them grow faster without using chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
Inside the huge commercial greenhouse on the outskirts of Beijing, heads of lettuce sit in neat rows while light gently pours through the glass above. In the air, there is a soft buzz and an intense feeling as if a thunderstorm is on the way. The high-voltage electrical wiring strung over the crops is a sign that this is not an ordinary growing space.
This place may be different, but it is far from unique. In recent years, greenhouses like these have sprung up in China, part of a government-backed project to increase crop yields, warming them in invisible electric fields radiating from power lines. From cucumbers to radishes, the results are apparently incredible. Liu Binjiang, the project’s lead scientist states: “The overall quality is excellent. We are entering a golden age for this technology.”