Can you electrocute plants?

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Offline John Burnap

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Can you electrocute plants?
« on: 20/01/2011 10:30:02 »
john burnap  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I have some rather nasty weeds in the yard and I don't want to use chemicals. Is it possible to electrocute the weeds?
 
John Burnap

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 20/01/2011 10:30:02 by _system »

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Offline chris

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Can you electrocute plants?
« Reply #1 on: 21/01/2011 17:51:48 »
Well, lightning certainly fries a plant, but that's more down to heating that any specific electrical impact.

I think there may be safer ways to eliminate the weeds - a thick mat or polythene layer perhaps?

Chris
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Offline John Burnap

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Can you electrocute plants?
« Reply #2 on: 21/01/2011 18:26:35 »
Thank you for the reply! We have some very large weeds, including some Arundo Donax (something like Bamboo). The root system of the Arundo is rhizomal and it can regenerate quite rapidly from a single piece of root. I was just considering tapping some metal electrodes into the rhizome, say a pair of nails, and attaching them to a car battery for a while. I presume that the rhizome will not get very hot, but hopefully it will suffer some fatal electro-chemical imbalance. Will the electricity pervade the entire rhizome? How are plant cells affected by electrical current? Perhaps I should do some Kitchen Science!  [;D]

John

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Offline Don_1

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Can you electrocute plants?
« Reply #3 on: 22/01/2011 13:03:16 »
As Chris has said, it is the heat rather than the electrical current which frazzles plants in a lightening strike. Connecting your unwanted plants to even the most powerful car battery is unlikely to have any effect whatever.

Your Arundo Donax thrives in moist slightly alkaline conditions. Like other plants of its ilk, such as Ground Elder and the dreaded Japanese Knotweed, it can take a very long time to eradicate.

I understand your reluctance to the use of herbicides and quite frankly, even a commercial strength herbicide will take many applications over a number of years to rid you of this plant.

I would suggest you greatly increase the acidity and drainage of the entire area and then, again as Chris suggested, you deprive the area of water and light with black polythene. It may still take a couple of years or more to eradicate this plant.
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Offline CliffordK

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Can you electrocute plants?
« Reply #4 on: 22/01/2011 13:53:43 »
Some trees can survive lightening strikes, although I like the idea of affixing a lightening rod to your plant  :)

Wikipedia has some suggestions for control measures including a couple of bugs that may selectively eat it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundo_donax#Control_Measures


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Travis

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« Reply #5 on: 27/08/2016 15:58:12 »
Roofing torch=flame thrower

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Carrie

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« Reply #6 on: 27/11/2016 04:02:28 »
Why does any plant that I put next to my TV smell like the electricity of the TV and die?  What is causing this and why.  I know for a fact it's the TV as I've played around with different plants.