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2013 IEEE 1st International Conference on Condition Assessment Techniques in Electrical Systems

A Study on the influence of High Electric Field

Intensity Treatment on Crop Life

Gowrishankar S, Gowri Sree V

Division of High Voltage Engineering,
CEG, Anna University,
sgowrishankarhve@gmail.com, gowri06@yahoo.com

Abstract— Treatment of seeds with high intensity electric priming depends on the variety of the seed and differs largely
fields can be an effective substitute for traditional chemical among seed lots of the same variety [3][4]. Moreover, the
methods to improve the germination, growth and the yield. It can priming is a labour costing practice when large scale of seeds
also be used as an alternate method for weed control as the cell has to be treated in this method.
rupture occurs on the weeds at the compatible electric field on
the grains. In this work, the paddy seeds were treated in power B. Chemical fertilizers
frequency AC electric fields and pulsed electric fields. Then they Chemical fertilizers have been used over many years for
were cultivated in actual agricultural field conditions to study the improving the plant growth, yield and also for controlling the
impact of electric fields on the crop life. The germination rate,
weeds, micro organs, diseases and insects. Chemical fertilizers
growth of the treated paddy seeds were observed and the results
were compared with that of the untreated paddy seeds. The change the natural properties of the plant and the soil. The
higher electric field intensity, higher exposure time and higher continuous usage of the chemical fertilizers severely affects
number of pulses improved the percentage of germination. The the environment and also leads to health hazards for the
growth rate was higher in treated seeds at initial stages and it was people.
not significant after certain period of germination.
C. Application of electric field in seed processing
Keywords— Electric field treatment, AC and pulsed electric All plants on earth live under an electric field and magnetic
field, Germination rate and Growth. field because the earth is a magnet and there is an electric field
between clouds and the earth. It has been reported that external
I. INTRODUCTION electric field and magnetic field influence both the germination
In the recent years, the world population has been and the plant growth. The new seed enhancement technique is
accelerating its increase rapidly and will be greater than nine exposure of the seeds into the electric field before the seedling
billions in 2050 [1]. It results reduction in farmlands and process. In this method, the seeds are exposed to an electric
increase in deforestation for civilization which will lead to soil field with a predetermined field strength and exposure time
deterioration and water shortage. Thus, people of the world [5][6]. The electric field treatment can be easily handled using
probably fall into a food scarcity. Hence, there are a conveyor belt or a proper arrangement of electrodes. This
requirements of bioresearch to improve the harvest efficiency method is more convenient and practical than priming. It does
of the food plant. The use of chemical fertilizers for the not have any environmental effect and so it is more reliable
improvement in yields poses a serious threat to the human than chemical fertilizers. Electric field treatments were
health, animals and the soil quality. Therefore, new means for reported to increase the germination percentage and growth in
stimulation of plant growth and improvement in the yields are soybean, tomato, barely and cucumber [6][7][8]. The optimal
necessary. Plant growth as well as the biological processes of electric and magnetic fields could accelerate the activation of
seeds can be accelerated or inhibited by different treatment seed germination. But still the mechanisms of these actions are
processes such as seed priming, using chemical fertilizers, not identified clearly. Electric and magnetic field treatments are
exposing the seeds in the electric and magnetic fields before assumed to enhance the seed vigour by influencing the
the seedling processes start [2][3]. biochemical processes that involve free radicals and
stimulating the activities of proteins and enzymes [9]. It is
A. Seed priming suggested that when seeds are exposed to pulsed electric fields,
Seed priming involves a process that partly hydrates the it leads to formation of aqueous pores in the plasma membrane
seeds to initiate the early events of germination and dries them due to changes in permeability and it induces an internal
back to stop the germination before the radical protrusion. The electric field across the cell membrane. This internally induced
researches proved that seed priming provides time and electric field forces the phospholipids molecules to rearrange
moisture for seeds to repair damages from deteriorative events and to form hydrophilic pores, which allow an exchange of
such as mitochondrial dysfunction, enzyme inactivation, ions and molecules through the membrane. It leads to structural
membrane perturbations and genetic damage incurred during changes in the cell which alters the seed germination and the
the aging of the seeds [3]. The optimum treatment condition of

978-1-4799-0083-1/13/$31.00 ©2013 IEEE CATCON2013

2013 IEEE 1st International Conference on Condition Assessment Techniques in Electrical Systems
plant growth [10]. The weeds in the seeds also can be The standard impulse waves were generated and were applied
destroyed by electric field treatment [11]. for seeds during treatment. The impulse waveform generated is
shown if fig.3. The voltage level, exposure time and number of
II. METHODS AND MATERIALS pulses applied are tabulated below.
A. Seed Details
The rice is majorly used as food in most of the South
Indian states. So the paddy was chosen for studying the SI.No Voltage(peak) No.of Pulses
1 20kV 20
impacts of the electric field on its life cycle. The paddy seed
2 20kV 50
variety considered for treatment was ADT 49 (Aduthurai 49).
3 30kV 20
It was a new variety of paddy seed developed by Tamil Nadu 4 30kV 50
Rice Research Station, Aduthurai, Thanjavur. The seeds were
obtained from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kattupakkam,
Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu. The life cycle of ADT 49
is normally 137 days. Seeds were grouped for electric field
treatment and each group consisted of 100 grams for a
particular voltage level.
B. Electrode Arrangement

Fig. 2. Impulse generator circuit

Fig. 1. Electrode arrangement for seed treatment in electric fields

The seeds were segregated to 20 groups and each group

consisted of 100 grams of seeds. For each voltage level and
exposure time, 2 groups were considered. The seed groups
were labelled as from S1 to S20 for proper identification. The
treatment was carried out in a test cell which consisted of two Fig. 3. Applied impulse waveform
electrodes made up of copper. The upper electrode had a
diameter of 24mm and height of 29mm. The ground electrode
had a diameter of 74mm and height of 20mm. The spacing
between the electrodes was set as 20mm. The seed groups were TABLE II. AC VOLTAGE & EXPOSURE TIME
uniformly placed on the surface of ground electrode during the SI.No Voltage(peak) Exposure time
treatment time. 1 230V 1min
C. Treatment of Seeds in Electric Field 2 230V 5min
3 11kV 1min
The paddy seed groups were treated in power frequency 4 11kV 5min
AC voltage and impulse voltage. The voltages applied to the
seeds were chosen such that the electric field intensities should
not break the seed coat to avoid the rupture of seeds. The
impulse voltage generator circuit and ac voltage treatment were
given in fig.2&3. Impulse voltage is a unidirectional voltage
which rises more or less rapidly to a peak value and then
decays relatively slowly to zero. The impulse voltage is
specified by its front time which is the time taken to reach 90%
of the peak and tail time which is the time taken to reach 50%
of the peak. The impulse voltage specified by Indian Standard
should have the front time of 1.2µs and tail time of 50µs with Fig. 4. Treatment in AC voltage
±20% and ±30% tolerance in front and tail times respectively.

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2013 IEEE 1st International Conference on Condition Assessment Techniques in Electrical Systems
The treated seeds were cultivated in a farmland owned by respectively. These results are about 4% and 5% higher than
Mr.Subbhaiya Reddy from Uthiramerur, Kancheepuram that of controlled seeds. In this case, the maximum electric
District in normal environmental conditions. First, each group field is 7.36kV/cm.
of treated seeds was put in different trays and was allowed for
20 days for germination. Then the germinated crops were
shifted to the farmland.


The germinated crops were planted in the field uniformly
for easier identification. Each group of treated seeds was
planted in 10 columns and maximum of 130 rows. The
number of seeds germinated was counted from the crops
planted in the field. The percentage of germination was
calculated and the data were presented here.
The percentage of germination gives the number of seeds
germinated out of 100 seeds. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)
was used to optimize the results. Analysis of variance is a
collection of statistical models used to analyze the differences
between group means and their associated procedures. Here Fig. 5. Comparison of germination for AC voltage treatment
the germination of same group was calculated by calculating
the germination for each row in that group. Then the mean and The maximum field was calculated from Ansoft
variation for that group were calculated. Thus the mean and simulation results. In Ansoft simulation tool, the actual size of
variance of different groups were compared in ANOVA. the seed and electrode arrangements were drawn and its
The percentage of germination was calculated based on the relative permittivity of husk and grain were assigned. Then the
mean of each group of seeds germinated and maximum different voltage levels used for experimentation were applied
percentage of germination within 95% confidence level. The to the seeds and the electric field intensities at different points
95% confidence level gives the confirmation of results which of seeds were calculated.
were collected as sample results for each group of seeds. The The percentage germination results show that the higher
table 3 gives the percentage of germination for each group. The AC electric field and higher exposure time improve the
percentage germination of controlled and AC voltage treated germination. But for 230V, the electric field is lower and even
seeds were shown in fig.5 and the percentage germination of
the exposure time is increased, the improvement in
controlled and impulse voltage treated seeds were shown in
germination is not significant.


B. Influence of pulsed electric field in germination
SI.No Voltage Mean % of Maximum %
applied germination germination The germination percentage of treated seeds is maximum in
within 95% the case of 30kV, 50 pulses and maximum field in this case
confidence was 20.01kV/cm. It is about 18% higher than the percentage
level germination of controlled seeds.
1 Controlled 60 63.78
2 230V, 1 min 58.6 62.23
3 230V, 5 min 61.18 65.43
4 11kV, 1 min 63.73 68
5 11kV, 5 min 65.43 69.31
6 20kV,20pulses 67.55 71.43
7 20kV,50pulses 72.55 80.73
8 30kV,20pulses 73.92 78.18
9 30kV,50pulses 77.95 81.63

A. Influence of AC electric field in germination

The result shows that there was no significant difference
between the germination percentage of controlled (untreated)
seeds and seeds treated in 230V (supply voltage). But in the
case of 11kV and exposure time of 1 minute and 5 minutes, the Fig. 6. Impulse Voltage & No. of pulses vs. %germination
maximum germination percentage are 68 and 69.31

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2013 IEEE 1st International Conference on Condition Assessment Techniques in Electrical Systems
For the seeds treated in 20kV impulse voltage with 50 TABLE VI. CROP HEIGHT IN 95 DAYS
pulses, the germination percentage is higher than that of seeds
treated with 20kV, 20 pulses and which is nearly equal to that SI.No Voltage level Crop %
of seeds treated with 30kV, 50 pulses. This shows that the Hieght in difference
higher pulsed electric fields and higher number of pulses 95th day with
improve the germination and even for lower electric fields, the (cm) controlled
higher number of pulses also improves the germination. group
1 Controlled 103.2
The treatment of seeds in higher electric fields induced 2 230V, 1min 103.3 0.001
3 230V, 5min 103.4 0.002
small pores in the cells of seeds which improved the water
4 11kV, 1min 103.8 0.005
imbibition by the seeds. So the treated seeds had more
5 11kV, 5min 104 0.008
germination than that of controlled seeds. 6 20kV, 20 pulses 103.9 0.007
C. Growth 7 20kV, 50 pulses 104.2 0.01
8 30kV, 20 pulses 104.1 0.009
The growth of the crops was measured in terms of the crop
9 30kV, 50 pulses 104.3 0.01
height in 25, 54 and 95 days after germination. There was no
physical change in treated crops except their height. At initial
stages the crops from treated seeds had more growth than the
controlled groups. In 25 days, the crops from seeds treated in After 53 days, the percentage difference between
impulse voltage of 30kV, 20 & 50 pulses had more height than controlled and treated groups in terms of height became lesser
the other groups. The crops from 30kV, 20 pulses treated seeds than that of initial stage. After 94 days of germination, the
has a maximum of 19.8% higher growth compared to that of crop height of each group became equal. The exposure of
controlled and 30kV, 50 pulses has 19.4% difference with seeds in higher electric field improved the germination of the
controlled group. The group treated in 230V has no percentage seeds and their growth. But after certain period of growth, the
difference with controlled group in terms of height. crop height of each group became almost equal.
At initial stages, the growth of treated seeds was high due
to the impact of high electric field. This is because of pore
development and improved water imbibition due treatment in
higher electric fields. The plant growth is mainly due to
SI. Voltage level Crop % difference development of new cells by cell division. The newly
No Hieght in with developed cells did not have the impact of higher electric fields
25th day controlled so that the growth treated crops became normal after certain
(cm) group period.
1 Controlled 16.2
2 230V, 1min 16.1 0.006 IV. CONCLUSION
3 230V, 5min 16.4 0.012 The high electric field intensities improve the seed
4 11kV, 1min 18.2 11 germination. However, the supply voltage (230V) does not
5 11kV, 5min 18.1 10.5 have any significant effect on germination. In case of
6 20kV, 20 pulses 19.4 16.5 alternating field, the magnitude of electric field intensity and
7 20kV, 50 pulses 19.6 17.3 exposure of time of seeds in the field are important factors that
8 30kV, 20 pulses 20.2 19.8 influencing the germination. Similarly the magnitude of
9 30kV, 50 pulses 20.1 19.4 electric field intensity and number of pulses applied are the
factors that influencing the germination in case of impulse
voltage. The higher electric fields only improve the
germination. But, the applied electric field should not
breakdown the seeds during the treatment. Similarly, the
SI. Voltage level Crop % difference electric field treatment of seeds improves the growth of crops
No Hieght in with at initial stages and its effects are not significant after certain
54th day controlled period of germination. This method can be used as an
(cm) group alternative for stimulating the seed germination.
1 Controlled 62
2 230V, 1min 62.1 0.002
3 230V, 5min 62.3 0.004
4 11kV, 1min 65.8 5.8
5 11kV, 5min 64.8 4.3 We would like to thank Dr.M.Siddharth, Assistant
6 20kV, 20 pulses 65.8 5.8 Professor, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences
7 20kV, 50 pulses 65.9 5.9 University, Chennai, India and Mr.S.Subbhaiya Reddy for their
8 30kV, 20 pulses 66.2 6.3 assistances in processing of paddy seeds and cultivating the
9 30kV, 50 pulses 66.4 6.6 seeds during this work.

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2013 IEEE 1st International Conference on Condition Assessment Techniques in Electrical Systems
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