The Secret Life of Plants - Can Plants Hear?
Rabbi Yochanan said that while the voice is good for plants, it can actually damage wine, which improves far better when it sits in a quiet place. (Talmud Kritut 6b)
We have seen, plants are aware of what is happening around them; can they hear as well? Dr. T. S. Singh, Head of the Department of Botany at Annamalai University in India asked this very question in 1950. Rumors reached him that plants that were played music to grew faster and better. However, he sought proof to substantiate this claim.
Singh set up a scientific lab that contained a variety of normal, healthy plants of about the same age. Working with one species at a time, he placed a device that played tones from three different instruments at a fixed distance from the plants. The results were startling: These plants grew and produced seeds at a rate above average.
After a series of experiments confirmed these findings, a number of farmers tried applying this technique to their crops. They recorded pleasant music and played it on loudspeakers for an hour each day, in fields bearing six different strains of rice. The resulting harvests were 25%-60% greater than the normal yield.
Peter Benton, who served on the staff of the Canadian Department of Agriculture, attempted to use the results of these experiments to help corn crops battle insect infestation, which usually resulted in heavy damage. He recorded sounds similar to those of bats and played them in the fields. The fields were rapidly cured of the intruders.
However, if these researchers thought that their efforts would increase the full compliment of crops around the world, they were wrong. It turns out that certain types of music that promote the growth of one strain of plant decrease the growth rate of another. Science has still not been able to solve the mystery of the individual tonal preferences of plants.
Finally, let us cite one more case from the Talmud about the effect of sound on plants. According to the Sages: (BT Kritut 6b.)
“A person who [cut the plants used for incense in the Temple] would say ‘Grind it well, grind it well!’ because the voice improves the spices.”
On the other hand, Rabbi Yochanan said that while the voice is good for plants, it can actually damage wine, which improves far better when it sits in a quiet place.
Adapted from The Revolution by Rabbi Zamir Cohen