Preliminary Field Trials

To assess whether H2 fertilization of soil enhances the growth and yield of field-grown plants, trials were set up in Minto, Manitoba (MB) and Truro, Nova Scotia (NS) in 2000. Soils pretreated with H2 were added with seeds at a rate of about 1.65 Lm"2 in NS and 6.4 Lm"2 in MB.

In seven-week-old barley and spring wheat plants in MB, tiller number per plant increased by 47% and 27%, respectively, compared with plants in the air-treated or control soils (Figure 3) (Kettlewell, Layzell, unpublished). Similarly, in eight-week-old barley in NS the number of heads was 48% higher when the seeds were sowed in a bed of H2 treated soil compared with plants that were germinated with air treated soil (data not shown; Dong, Caldwell, unpublished).

The ultimate effect of the B-2 treated soil on crop yield was less than that observed on tiller or head number. Yield increases of 3%) to 16%) were observed relative to the air treated soil, but not all data were significantly different at the 95%) confidence level (data not shown). The lower yield response than early growth response was attributed to the high seeding densities that were used in this study. Clearly, more field studies are needed.

Figure 3. The effect of H2 treated soil on the growth and tiller number in spring wheat grown in the field in Minto, MB. Field soils were pretreated with air or H2 (peak exposure rate of 200 |imoles L"1 soil h"1) for 5 weeks before being placed in a furrow (6.4 L m"2) with wheat seeds. Note the larger number of tillers in these 7-week-old plants in H2 soil compared to soils exposed to air and the untreated control (UTC) soils (Kettlewell, Dong, Layzell, unpublished).

Figure 3. The effect of H2 treated soil on the growth and tiller number in spring wheat grown in the field in Minto, MB. Field soils were pretreated with air or H2 (peak exposure rate of 200 |imoles L"1 soil h"1) for 5 weeks before being placed in a furrow (6.4 L m"2) with wheat seeds. Note the larger number of tillers in these 7-week-old plants in H2 soil compared to soils exposed to air and the untreated control (UTC) soils (Kettlewell, Dong, Layzell, unpublished).

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