It wasn't until the mid-1800s that further experimentation on plants began to take off.
The increase in interest was due to the invention of what was called an “ Earth battery .”
Invented 4 by Alexander Bain in 1841, the earth battery generated electrical power by
placing plates of zinc and copper, connected by a wire above the ground, into the earth.
When plants were placed into the ground between the plates, an increase in both growth
rate and yield would often be observed. It's essentially based on the same principles as
common batteries today, but instead of being designed to fit into a tiny space inside our
cars, boats and consumer electronic devices, it operates in dirt over distances ranging from
inches to hundreds of feet!
An 'Earth' Battery In Your Kitchen…
that electricity can come from almost anywhere. A lemon (or potato or tomato) is often used as the medium,
and a digital clock is plugged into it. The thing is, it's really a trick. These types of clocks aren't actually
powered by the fruits or vegetables that they plug into; instead, the electrical energy that's delivered comes
from the metal electrodes that are plugged into the fruit or vegetable. In simple terms, the differences in
electrical potential innate to the materials of zinc and copper (the electrodes used in these devices) actually
powers the clock. The electrically-conductive innards of the lemons, potatoes or tomatoes are used as a
catalyst, creating the conditions needed for electricity to flow between the two different metals. For more
information, look up the Lemon Battery in Wikipedia.
An agriculturist named Ross was described in the Proceedings of the New York Farmers'
Club , a publication from the 1850s, using an earth battery system in some experiments.
In one performed in 1844, he used a copper plate that was 5 feet by 14 inches, connected