How many ways can you miss the point?
is supposedly about noise bothering trees. Claims to be the first research on this connection. Basically misses every point that could be missed.
First, the research was actually about noise affecting birds, which is unsurprising. Birds are thoroughly sound-oriented critters. The birds changed their habits under different sound exposures, which changed their poop-seed-transfer effects on plants in the neighborhood. So the plants were just indirect 'targets' of the birds.
Second, lots of new-agey research has dealt with effects of music on plants. Far as I know it's inconclusive and meaningless, but that doesn't tell us whether a good
experiment would show an effect. I wouldn't be surprised to find an effect; I'm no longer convinced
that you can draw a sharp line between plants and animals!
Third, this 'unbiased' research appears to be mainly a weapon against natural gas drilling, so it was dealing with sounds from big drilling apparatus, compressors, and such. Those sounds, along with the sounds from wind turbines, are more seismic than acoustic. Ultra-low-frequency sound wiggles the soil.
I'd expect such sounds to affect plants directly by loosening roots, and indirectly by changing the behavior of earthworms, bacteria, fungi, etc within the soil. I'd bet on these influences before I'd bet on a meaningful effect from changing bird poop habits.
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Sidenote: One sentence in the feature does make good sense.
"You kind of hit yourself on the forehead and think, why didn't I think of that?"
It's even more forehead-y when you know how much
acoustical research already deals with plants as filters
for noise. When I worked at PSU, several projects were laid out in forests and cornfields, to find out how highway and industrial noise could be diffused and absorbed by various types of plantings. One of those projects was in a PSU ag dept experimental cornfield, where the growth of the plants was already carefully monitored. If anyone had thought of it, we could have checked the corn's response to the sound without making any extra measurements!
An experiment that might work: Start with a field of uniform crops or grass. Set up a vibration at a frequency that creates a standing wave in the soil. Run the vibration for a couple weeks. Compare the plants along the max-amplitude lines (shown here by Happystar) against the plants along the zero-amplitude lines (shown by Polistra). Since those sets are interspersed, all other variables should be identical.
Probably more practical to place a large flat electrostatic transducer under an area of soil. Setting up and maintaining a standing wave in such a transducer would be much easier than forming a wave in the soil itself.= = = = =Followup thoughts here.
Labels: Grand Blueprint