Sometime in the next century, the world's population will rise to almost three times its present overcrowded 5.5 billion. How are we to fee 14 billion mouths? Millions of U.S. citizens remain undernourished, and every night millions of children go to bed hungry. In the Third World, conditions are so appalling that an emaciated child dies every second of every day. 

In the span of a half million years, we have greedily turned great forests into deserts, caused the extinction of countless plant species and turned millions of acres of rich soil into unproductive wasteland loaded with poisonous chemicals. While farmers in semi-arid regions struggle to grow food on marginal soils, in northern climates others struggle with a shrinking growing season. Our soil is more and more tainted, eroded, and worthless. Is there any solution?

A Solution

Many solutions may be required to approach a disaster of this magnitude. But one solution, a technology developed by Dan Carlson, is particularly intriguing. His novel system for growing abundant produce, patented under the trade name Sonic Bloom, nourishes plants through their leaves to the accompaniment of a special sound. 

What motivates Carlson is a horrifying event he witnessed in the early 1960s. In Korea, as an enlisted solider, he witnessed a starving Korean mother lay the legs of her small child beneath the rear wheel of an army truck. Crushed legs created an authentic cripple, entitling the child's family to a family-saving food subsidy. 

Back home, Carlson spent many hours in the University of Minnesota library studying plant physiology. Struck by the idea that certain sound frequencies might help a plant breathe better and absorb more nutrients, he experimented with various frequencies. With the help of an audio engineer, he found one that was consonant with the early morning chirping of birds that Carlson believes signals plants to open their stomata wider. 

On every leaf there are thousands of stomata. Each stoma -- less than 1/1000th of an inch across -- allows oxygen and water to transpire, while other gases, notably carbon dioxide, move in to be transformed by photosynthesis into sugars. During dry conditions, the stomata close to prevent a wilting plant from drying out completely. 

Photomicrographs show plant stomata opening wider to Carlson's frequencies. A scanning electron microscope has shown substantially higher stomata density on a leaf treated with his process, and the individual stomata are more developed and better defined. 

Stomata normally imbibe the morning dew, sucking up nutrients in the form of free-flowing trace elements. Carlson decided to develop an organic spray to apply to the leaves along with the sound that induces stomata to open. Even in poor soil, Carlson reasoned, plants could be well nourished with a foliar spray containing the right combination of elements. Fifteen years of trial and error followed. 

Research and Development

He needed to find not only what elements serve to make a plant flourish, he needed to find their proper balance. Just the right amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus was needed, but not the overdoses recommended by the chemical companies which swamp the plant to the exclusion of trace elements vital to its health. Too much of any one element can distort or even kill a plant. 

Carlson conducted testing with radioactive isotopes and Geiger counters to trace the elements' translocation from leaves to stems, to peak to roots. Among the first natural substances used was gibberellic acid, which is naturally derived from rice roots and needed by every living plant. Eventually he included 64 trace elements derived from natural plant products and from seaweed. He also added chelated amino acids and growth hormones, altering the surface tension of the water base to make it more easily absorbed. The end result was the produce known as Sonic Bloom. 


As a test for his brain-child, Carlson induced a common household purple passion vine, which normally grows no longer than 18 inches, to wind its way room-to-room throughout his Minnesota home until it reached a length of 600 feet. This growth stimulated researchers from The Guinness Book of World Records to verify the fact. They included this unique phenomenon in their 1976 edition. 

Further tests showed that even without the special sound, a plant leaf can absorb 300% more of his blend than other foliar sprays. When accompanied by Carlson's frequency generator, the absorption and translocation rate of nutrients rises to an amazing 700 percent -- according to Carlson -- far more than a plant could possibly absorb through its roots. The result is earlier maturity, greater yields, improved taste, more nutrition, and longer shelf life. 

Growth Enhancer

Sonic Bloom is not considered a fertilizer, but a plant growth enhancer. For normal use, Carlson recommends fertilizing the soil as usual, but with organic rather than chemical fertilizer. 

Ideally the sound -- which is similar to the frequency range of bird calls made by swallows, martins, and warblers, and sounds altogether like a flock of barn swallows -- is played to plants beginning 30 minutes before spraying, during spraying, and another 30 minutes after. The advantage of this mechanical sound is that it includes frequencies of birds that are almost extinct as a result of DDT. 

For home gardeners, Carlson has developed a kit containing a tape, a sprayer, and a bottle of nutrients. For indoor plants, the chirping sound is embedded in a tape of classical music that should be played once every morning, preferably between 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., when plants naturally absorb the dew. Maximum results come from such daily sound stimulation which dramatically increases absorption of both nutrients and dew, providing drought protection as well as increased growth. But results have been achieved by using the Carlson system for as little as two hours weekly. As a bonus, the sound appears to attract unusual quantities of birds who add their chorus to the manufactured medley, and synchronously, butterflies swam in greater numbers. 

Treatment is basically the same for larger commercial operations, but with special sound units that play the basic high-pitched oscillating frequency instead of music. These units can also be activated by a solar cell to turn them on at daylight and off at nightfall. Powered by a 12-volt battery, units can be mounted on poles or trees in the growing area, and come in sizes for 5-, 40- and 60-acre spreads. Multiples of these can be used for larger acreage. For still bigger farms, mobile frequency generators are mounted on tractors. The sound does not worry animals, but the larger units should not be too near a house. From a distance, the sound blends with that of crickets. 

Field crops are treated with the nutrient once every ten days to two weeks. One gallon of concentrated nutrient sells for $250. It is diluted, one teaspoon is added to a quart of water and provides 256 gallons of spray, enough for 5 treatments on 4.5 acres of crops. The sound units range in price from $250 for a single high-frequency ceramic speaker suitable for treating up to 5-acres; one for 40 acres costs $550 and a 60-acre unit costs $650. 

Both seeds and cuttings from plants benefit from the treatment. Carrot seeds soaked overnight in the nutrient solution (1/2 ounce per gallon of water) with the cassette tape left to play continuously, produced a greater-than-normal carrot crop of 400 lbs. to each 40-foot row. 

Soaking ginseng seeds the night before planting resulted in 95 percent germination. Sprouts -- alfalfa in particular - soaked in the foliar product and played to for 72 hours developed an edible body with a 1,200 percent increase in weight and double the shelf life. 

Cuttings should be sprayed once a week with 500:1 solution until established. Then sprayed once a week with 250:1 solution. Suckers cut from a tomato plant should be allowed to grow for seven days or until 14 inches long, then placed in shade and sprayed once a day with ¼ ounce per gallon solution. In 10 to 14 days, the sucker should be fully rooted and start to grow 2 inches a day.

Instead of the normal production time of 90 days, plants should be 7 to 9 feet tall in 55 days, producing 400 to 600 tomatoes, many with a double fruit hand. Soaked in a 500:1 solution and serenaded for eight hours, 500 cucumber seeds planted in one greenhouse matured from seed to harvest in 40 days, producing 7,600 pounds of cucumbers -- so many they had to be picked daily over a period of 36 days lest they grow too long to fit in 20-inch packing boxes.

More interestingly, plants seem to pass on their cultural improvements to their offspring, even when the offspring are left untreated. Any seed or cutting from a treated plant is better than its parent. Kidney beans, untreated, usually produce three to four beans per pad; treated with Sonic Bloom the increase was up to four or five. Their offspring, untreated, with regularly produce four or five; when treated, they produce 5 or 6. A generational improvement may increase to up to eight or nine per pod. 

Soybean plants treated in Wisconsin produced up to 300 pods per plant, 30-35 being the norm. What's more, the beans contained 27 percent protein against a normal 15 percent. Bell peppers have born over 50 peppers per plant instead of the norm of four or five per plant. In River Falls, Wisconsin, corn has grown 16 feet high, and young evergreen trees have grown 3 to 4 feet annually. In Florida, orange production has increased by 66 percent, with a vitamin content 121 percent above norm, and there is fruit in all stages of growth on each tree making for a perpetual harvest. 

Bill Bostwick, a grower of high potential American ginseng in Wisconsin, obtains 5,000 pounds an acre, whereas the state average is a mere 1,300 pounds per acre. Bostwick grows plants to five-year maturity while most others are obliged to harvest at 3 or 4 years. 

Wilson Mills of Circle K apple orchard has been using Carlson's foliar nutrient for the past eight years. Wilson gets larger, healthier trees with increased yields, higher fruit quality, fewer insect problems, increased sugar levels, earlier maturity, reduced fertilizer, and an improved shelf life -- five months instead of 30 days. 

Using on ancient open-pollinated seeds collected from Central and South America, Sonic Bloom produced impressive results with 100 percent increase in peppers and melons. In San Juan Pueblo, a Native American community not far from Sante Fe, the corn produced 17.5 percent more ears with 16 percent more height. Amaranth weighed 2 pounds per plant, and kinoa grew 9 to 11 feet tall with over 2-pound heads. 

Carlson claims his system substantially increases not only yields but quality, all at a fraction of the cost of chemical fertilizers. He says the common method of crop production, with its overreliance on chemicals, is producing plants that are stressed out. Remove the stress and the plants become more adaptable and pest and disease resistant. Carlson's plants exposed to recorded sound units and foliar spray seem better able to adapt to adverse soil and water conditions in drought-stricken areas. Tests in arid environments show a 50-60 percent reduction in watering needs since larger and deeper roots tap additional reserves of groundwater. Fruits, grains, and vegetables, all with heavy sugar content, are not only disease-resistant, but the sugar levels adversely affect the digestive tracts of insects, keeping them at bay. Balance growth of fruits and vegetables leads to early maturity -- often within 50 days -- followed by an extended shelf life, plus a dramatic improvement in taste. 


Poets, musicians, occultists -- and now even scientists -- realize that the many frequencies to which we are exposed can dramatically affect our spiritual and physical well-being. Rudolf Steiner, perhaps the most impressive philosopher of the century, whose biodynamic system of agriculture produces increasingly healthy soil, describes the intimate effect that birdsong and even the sound of birdwings has on the development of plants. 

What propelled me to write this article was an apple tree, probably not more than 30 years old, viewed from the kitchen window of my 18th-century farm in West Virginia. Every fall since I have looked at that tree and wondered what the devil could be done about its ugly, misshapen, inedible fruit the size of golf balls. Last year I sprayed the darn thing thrice with Sonic Bloom to the accompaniment of Carlson's chirping soundbox. That is all I did. No fertilizer was added, no special care. By September, I had a tree totally covered with orange-sized apples. They were beautifully colored and ready to eat. Such palpable proof led me to review what had been happening to Sonic Bloom since I reported on its apparent marvels in Secrets of the Soil almost ten years ago. As a result of what I have learned, I plan to travel to Mexico with Carlson to see with my own eyes if his system, combined with the Raul Mendez organic fungicide, really can produce a 500 percent improvement in yields. 

-- ACRES, August 1998

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