Sound and Nutrients in Agriculture

It has always been the uneasy role of true science to emerge from the shadows of mysticism. That task is no easier now -- with over 80% of the scientists who ever lived alive today -- than it was in a day and hour when scientists were rare -- and a rare breed.

Only has only to read Lewis Mumford's The Myth of the Machine to understand that intellectual Neanderthalers, even those styled protectors of science, always have something far less in mind for mankind than free and open access to the wonders of nature.

To be sure, there are always clarion calls for competent, objective testing, the implication being that such a grading system is to be found only among those who have never spent an hour of time with this -- ah! This mysticism. 

Dan Carlson is a plant breeder and a mystic, according to the conventional wisdom. Trailing him over some ten farms in Minnesota recently, and observing results of his sound and nutrient program, Acres U.S.A. was at first impelled to remind Carlson -- as others have reminded Dr. Phil Callahan, "You've gone too far." 

It all started when Carlson grew a purple passion plant -- normally only 18 inches long -- until it vined out some 1,400 feet. A cherry tomato plant was made to grow 15 feet high, 20 feet wide, and bear approximately 600 tomatoes. 

It is difficult to select the moment in time when Carlson assembled the strange, yes, even mystical premises for his sound and nutrients idea. Rachel Carlson warned of a silent spring if some sort of scientific intelligence were not brought to prevail in the matter of pesticides, but not even Carlson read that to mean birds and their morning concerto were of consequence in plant growth. Still it must be noted that Rudolf Steiner made that precise connection. It was one that was ignored for almost a century simply because Steiner "went too far." 

Carlson's Experiments

"I began experimenting with these sound waves in the 4 to 6 kilohertz range after I entered the University of Minnesota in 1964," Carlson told Acres U.S.A.. At first my studies led me to a group of plant growth stimulants. Some of these stimulants made 3 out of 100 plants grow ten times normal, but this had no practical application. So I went into the library for about 2-1/2 years looking for a way to make all plants accept these plant growth stimulants. 

His search led him to studies on a sound that was said to "make plants breathe better." He wondered that if plants could breathe better, then maybe they could absorb better too. He began to work with an oscillating sound generator with some straight tones around the 5 kilohertz range. Then he applied the plant growth stimulants while the sound was activated, and found that instead of 3 out of 100 plants responding to the stimulants, the acceptance range zoomed to 99%. He found that the stimulants alone were not satisfactory, because although the plants grew amazingly fast, they were spindly and weak. 

With that, he concentrated on finding the right combination of plant nutrients and amino acids, along with ingredients that provided frost resistancy and insect resistancy to create a foliar food that -- combined with high frequency sound -- created giant, enormously healthy plants. 

Purple Passion Plant

"The plant that I began my experiments with is still alive and well in the kitchen of my home. In 1971 I bought a 4-1/2 inch purple passion plant for 88 cents at Target and grew it to 1,4000 feet in 2-1/2 years with the use of high frequency sound and plant growth nutrients. I am still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest indoor plant in the world. They listed it at 600 feet. It doubled again after that, but they wouldn't come out and measure it again because they said no one could beat me. The normal length of a purple passion plant is 18 inches!" 

At one time Carlson took 400 cuttings of the plant and sold them at a flea market. He put his phone number on each little pot and told people that if any of the plants died, they could call and he would gladly give them another one. Within six to seven months, he started getting a lot of calls, not about dying purple passion plants, but about purple passion plants that were now over 100 feet longs. Carlson recalls getting somewhere between 75 to 100 of these calls. 

Test Data

After working with the purple passion plant and perfecting the treatment, Carlson began work with backyard gardens and farms. His test data books are chock full of results for tomatoes, potatoes, edible yellow beans, artichokes, and many other crops. Some of the more remarkable are: a 15-oot tomato plant with 836 tomatoes; 50 acres with 2,200 pounds of edible yellow beans produced after one spray, whereas controls produced 1,400 pounds; double yields on potatoes; 65 to 75 roses on rosebushes versus 5 to 7 on controls. 

Research Farm

A year and a half ago, Carlson obtained a research farm in Kealakekua, Hawaii. It was an old coffee plantation, and the trees were all over 65 years old. There were many orange, grapefruit, and lemon trees, macadamia nut trees and avocado trees. "The place was very run down when we took over, and the trees appeared to bear just a few fruits and nuts. We were really excited, when after only a couple of treatments, the trees bore so heavily we didn't know what to do with all the produce. We had done no pruning or fertilizing, but used just the sound and spray treatment alone."

A year later regular treatment appears to have created everbearing trees. Huge clusters of 20 to 25 avocados instead of the normal one to two to a cluster became commonplace. Flowers bloomed together with fruit in various stages of growth. Macadamia nut trees did the same thing. In a nutshell, it appears Carlson is creating everblooming trees. 

Seed Germination

One of the most exciting findings besides the everblooming trees involved seed germination treatment. When Carlson used sound and plant growth nutrients and soaked the seeds, he got a seed about 40% larger than normal. In jojoba seed projects in Arizona and California, Carlson germinated seeds. These jojoba seeds became so large that they couldn't be planted with the usual corn planter. They required a peanut plants with seed capacity of 40 to 50% larger. With the jojoba, Carlson got over a 90% germination rate within 20 days, normally the control seeds germinate about 30% of the time in anywhere from 30 days to 5 months. Reseeding a minimum of three times is common. This means a 97% germination rate within 20 days is financially a plus. Regular vegetable seeds treated by Carlson break ground in about 72 hours. 

When seeds are treated, they become much larger. They put down a much longer tap root, a greater root mass, and the plant that grows appears much sturdier. In treated corn, the seed will swell about 40% larger than controls, and germinate within three to four days. In some experiments with corn, Carlson waited about three days after germination and then treated that corn once and waited a few more days. Then he damaged the plant by breaking it off. Instead of the corn perishing, as did corn from the untreated seed, it looked unhealthy for a day or two and then four to five stalks of corn appeared from the same root system. The same results were observed with viney type vegetables. Hardier seeds don't perish when abused. Then they double, head out. They put out runners in two directions that have multiple blooms. 

Carlson and his associates are conducting a number of tests in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada. North of the international border, he's working with various wheats and grasses such as Durham wheat, rye, rape seed, and lentils. In Canada, the major problem is early frost, which occurs as early as August 15. 

Experiments have shown repeatedly that crops mature faster and produce a much higher yield when treated with sound waves and nutrients. Other tests are being run in Pennsylvania, Cedar Falls, Iowa, and River Falls, Wisconsin. 

Treatment Process

To treat with sound Carlson has developed an oscillating, bird-like sound which is produced in several units; a cassette tape for house plants and backyard gardens imbeds the oscillating sound in East Indian or classical music which is acceptable to most listeners; an oscillating sound unit which is solar-powered or battery-powered and attaches to the tractor as it goes through the fields. This last unit covers approximately 35 acres from a specific point. About 15 minutes before the spray is administered, the sound is activated. It actually can be activated simultaneously and be effective, but where its feasible, Carlson likes the extra time. The spray is administered in as fine a mist as possible. An atomizer is suitable for the window plant. A solo sprayer is suitable for the window plant. A solo sprayer is suitable for gardens. Sprayers capable of putting out a fine mist are suitable for farm fields. Helicopters have also been used successfully. 

Three sprays about 14 days apart seems to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment on most plants. Some hardy plants, such as jojoba, require more treatments. More treatments are indicated for some trees. 

What happens when plants are treated? Leaves swell, some stand erect, and the plants get a much lighter, brighter green. After a third treatment, plants develop multiple blooms. 

Withal, Dan Carlson is quite philosophical about the matter of production quality. In some cases Carlson had enabled potato growers to improve crops over controls by 19 and 20%. More important, he has been able to revitalize faltering orchards, and has enhanced absorption of available moisture (dew) in desert plants. 

Other people have experimented with sound and music, and these Ripley "Believe It Or Not" entries have amused the Sunday supplement crowd. Is Dan Carlson any different? Are his findings parlor conversation stuff, or do they have practical application to main line agriculture? Finally, if the system has validity, when will competent, objective testing tell farmers whether in fact -- under field conditions -- the nutrients and the sound are worth a farmer spending a dollar on it, except for curiosity? 

The last question can be answered immediately and the answer is never! University researchers, or workers subservient to USDA, can be counted upon to maintain the position that people like Dan Carlson are not competent to do what they were trained to do, or that the institutions have a monopoly on honesty and objectivity, when in fact honestly and objectivity have been squandered by science politicians the way a drunken sailor squanders money. 

Science still relies on a hunch or a hypothesis. The rest is largely procedural and requires no superior intelligence. As for honesty, it is probably distributed equally among human beings of like education. 

Sonic Bloom

Dan Carlson believes he has developed a unique, high-frequency sound pattern overlaid by pleasant music that somehow functions by opening the leaf stomata to better absorb nutrients, moisture and other dynamic influences present in the environment. The nutrient solution is sprayed on the plants while stomata are still opened by the sound. 

Each component of the system -- sound or foliar spray -- works alone. Combined, they produce astonishing results. 

"I have treated dying trees and have turned them around," Carlson told Acres U.S.A. "And we know that one of the answers to the greenhouse effect is to grow more and more trees and plants and keep our present forests alive and well. I can also grow some trees so rapidly that we can economically replace fossil fuels with wood pellets, a product now being produced in northern Minnesota, or fuel alcohol." 

Carlson was doing a number of tests this year using half the amount of fertilizer. He feels groundwater can be improved rapidly if certain fertilizers can be reduced by 50%. "When we use my system, instead of chemical fertilizers, the crumb structure of the soil improves, the root mass of the plants is heavier, and the earthworms come back at a rapid rate," Carlson says. 

Carlson fees the typical commercial farmer isn't going to become an eco-grower overnight. "First, he's built up some practices that it's going to take a few seasons for the plants and the ground to change away from. But if we can show him he can get a higher yield when he cuts his fertilizer in half, he can begin to see the economics of that. 

Carlson figures it is up to him to provide his own credibility. This has prompted him to order radioactive isotope uptake studies, with laboratory work accomplished by Albion Laboratories, Clearfield, Utah. (Dr. Harvey Ashmead of Albion Laboratories will be one of the 1984 Acres U.S.A. "Far View" Conference speakers.) 

Studies used FE 59 radioactive tagged iron with the experimental design including sound and spray, sound alone, spray alone and nothing on controls. According to Albion Laboratories, treated plants absorbed 400% more nutrients than the controls with sound alone and 300% more with spray alone. The synergistic effect created enabled plants to respond dramatically to trace elements, chelated amino acids and multiple vitamins. The bottom line, Carlson believes, will be more nutritious food. 

-- Acres, U.S.A., November 1984