Chinese researchers are reporting that applying an electric field to pea plants increased yields. This process — known as electroculture — has been tested multiple times, but in each case there are irregularities in the scientific process, so there is still an opportunity for controlled research to produce meaningful data.
This recent research used two plots of peas planted from the same pods. The plants were tended identically except one plot was stimulated by an electric field. The yield on the stimulated plot was about 20% more than the control plot.
The actual paper is paywalled in the journal Nature Food, but the idea seems simple enough. If you search for the topic, you’ll find there have been other studies with similar findings. There are also anecdotal reports of electrical plant stimulation going back to 1746.
The researchers can’t offer an explanation for why this would work. They did, however, use a novel method for generating electricity by harvesting energy from the environment with equipment they say costs about $40. From the diagram, it looks like a windmill-operated Wimshurst machine that rubs rabbit fur against some plastic. We imagine this would make a decent high school science project.