Laser Agro-Technology Application Practice in Kuban
At the same period the research activities connected with the laser implementation in agriculture for the rice seed treatment were initiated in order to increase the productivity. Research activities were carried out together with the scientists of the All-Union Research Institute of Rice in its fields under the academic supervision of the Academician E.P. Aleshin. Five sets of He-Ne-lasers LGN-111 (Polaron Production Association, Lvov) were purchased for the work; laboratory devices for the laser activation of seeds were produced; they were used for the optimization of the treatment conditions of seeds of rice and other crops. Experiments were carried out together with scientists in fields and climate chambers. In the process of laboratory tests the influence of laser activation on the increase of productivity and control of rice seed diseases was studied. As a result, in 1991 the Inventor’s Certificate No. 1827744 “Method of Control of Rice Diseases” (authors: P.S. Zhurba, S.A. Dyakunchak, M.B. Popova) was issued and the Protocols of Study of Laser Irradiation of Rice Seeds for the Enhancement of Germinating Capacity, Control of Rice Fusarial Wilt, Blast and Nematode were developed.
Knowing the experience of Kazakh scientists we purchased one small laser facility for the treatment of seeds in order to carry out in-process tests (Fig. 1). Tests were carried out on the Collective Farm named after Michurin in Krasnoarmeysky District of Krasnodar Krai in 1991; the seeds of rice, vegetable crops (tomatoes and cucumbers) and sugar beets were treated before sowing. Protocols were prepared on the basis of the data of in-process tests. They reflected the results of influence of laser radiation on the field germinating capacity, growing capacity, reduction of seed infectiousness, development of plants during the vegetation period and obtained productivity. Analysis of the tests carried out during the seed treatment showed the positive dynamics of improvement of seed sowing characteristics and productivity upon the treatment of small amounts of seeds (vegetables, plants for industrial use) when their feed to the laser facility hopper was performed manually. When large amounts of seeds (rice seeds) were treated their feed was performed by grain loader and dust was generated in the laser operating area; this dust covered the mirror of laser scanner. These mirrors needed to be cleaned and therefore laser was turned off periodically for this operation. Grain loader operation damaged the rice seeds and this fact reduced their germinating capacity.
Taking into account these negative characteristics the construction of laser facility could not be considered as appropriate. Under the production conditions it is required to treat tens and hundreds of tons of seed grain for the short period of time. As a result of several hours of operation the laser facility turned out to be filled with rice seeds. Absence of the mechanical traction complicated the tool movement on working area and the manual removal of treated seeds was required.
In order to eliminate these defects it was determined to develop new technologies and biological procedures for the laser treatment of seeds adapted to the production conditions. The new laser facility was designed and patented; using this unit it was possible to activate the seeds in piles automatically in close granary. The idea borrowed from the laser facility SKP-1 which was used during the construction of rice bays became the foundation of this device. Facility intended for the laser activation of seeds included the source of laser radiation (generator) with scanner which allowed the scanning of horizontal optical plane with the set frequency. The tool was equipped with elevator in order to adjust the height of optical plane in the lightguide operating area (Fig.2).
The set of lightguide devices was installed in different areas of seed pile at the depth of 1-1.5 meters in such manner as to locate the mirror of every lightguide in the laser beam scanning plane (Fig.3). The beam reflected from the mirror transmitted inside the pipe and got on the light-diffusing plexiglass lens with inbuilt photodiode. Photodiode was necessary for the control of laser beam transfer on the lens. Electric signal from the detector was registered with the help of millivoltmeter which made it possible to tune the lightguide in the operating position. The light pulse reflected by mirror irradiated the seeds around forming the energy band.
The laser facility operated in close granary in the absence of people for 4-5 days. The part of seeds located in the area of lightguide devices underwent the laser treatment only. In the process of joint storage of unirradiated and irradiated seeds the energy exchange occurred between the seeds due to the secondary reradiation. After the laser treatment and lying of seeds in the bulk of pile they were subjected to the laboratory control of germinating capacity, germinating energy and sanitary condition (Table 1).
Application of this laser facility for the activation of seeds in piles on the basis of the Patent of the Russian Federation No. 2072758 on the farms of Krasnodar Krai produced great biological effect as well as economical effect. With the help of the laser facility the treatment of seeds by coherent radiation was performed on many farms of Krasnodar Krai. Positive results of these works were specified in Protocols and Implementation Reports during in-process tests. But immediately the shortcoming of this method of laser activation of seeds in piles was shown – high labor content of the placement of lightguide devices into the seed pile and further tuning in operating position. Labor content of the tuning process required 2-3 minutes for the placement of one lightguide device and 3-4 hours were needed for all lightguides depending on operator skills. Laser facility allowed the activation of seeds by laser from one position of placed lightguides up to 200 tons. Its weight was 200 kg and it was not intended for the treatment of plants in fields.
Therefore, further developments served to the purposes of technical improvement and application mechanization not only for the treatment of seeds but also for the treatment of plants in fields in order to promote their growth and protect from diseases. We took into consideration the production conditions: large volumes of seeds (seed piles of 50 to 800 tons and more) and large areas of treated fields (50 to 2000 hectares). The laser facilities with extended limits of irradiated space and simplified operation under production conditions were developed. Due to the original design of scanner in the form of one mirror rotating simultaneously in two planes, the laser beam reflected from the mirror scanned the environment not only in horizontal plane but in all directions as well.
The laser facility LU-2 based on He-Ne-laser and equipped with this scanner, three-legged stand, power supply unit and control unit weighed 16 kilograms. It was used for the treatment by coherent electromagnetic radiation (λ = 632.8 nm) of seeds in pile and crops, vegetative plants in field. This laser facility (Fig. 4) was patented, the Patent No. 2202869, patent holder: Biolaser Research and Production Firm, LLC. Seed treatment was performed automatically in close storehouse in the absence of people. Seed volumes intended for the treatment were limited to the storehouse capacity.
Development of laser technology made it possible to replace the laser unit based on discharge tube with the semiconductor laser. Use of solid-state emitter allowed the creation of reliable laser tool in lightweight form which is less prone to the destructive vibration during the movement on tractor. This device weighed 6 kilograms and radiated on the wavelength λ = 650 nm (Fig. 5). The treatment of seeds and plants with the consideration of the main stages of their development allowed the enhancement of sowing qualities and growth promotion as well as efficient protection from pathogens influencing on the economic parameters. The new device was also patented (Patent No. 75530).
Laser technologies based on the use of the unit LU-2 are simple. Treatment with their use is performed in 2 stages. In the first stage, the activation of seeds in piles is performed. According to the process procedure the activation is performed automatically in close storehouse in the absence of people (Fig.6). Results showed that the effect of optimal bioresonance condition of seeds (activation) occurs approximately in 7-10 days of seeds storing but it disappears in 100-110 days after the treatment. Typical periods of the condition of seed grain in the treated pile during this term are shown in the diagram (Fig. 7). After the laser treatment the diagnostic inspection of seeds and their phytosanitary monitoring are performed. In order to perform the diagnostic inspection the methods of seed sprouting in Petri dishes are used (Fig. 8).
The second stage consists in the laser treatment of plants during vegetation in field. In order to make the laser movement easy, the laser should be secured on the tractor or car (Fig. 9). Laser scanning beam operates at the distance of 400 meters and therefore driving around the field perimeter makes it possible to have laser influence on all treated plants automatically. Laser treatment of crops is accomplished at the night time according to the procedure. The efficiency of plants treatment in field using one laser facility is 100 ha/hour.
Option of the manual laser facility LU-3 (Fig. 10) was developed and successfully used for the work in hothouses, greenhouses, nursery gardens, garden-plots, small plots of farmlands; this facility underwent tests in the farmlands of the All-Russian Research Institute of Biological Plant Protection (VNIIBZR, Krasnodar) as well as in the hothouses of private sector and forest nursery of Krasnodar Experimental Forestry. Treatment of seeds using the manual laser facility LU-3 was performed before the sowing process influencing on the small batch of seeds, which were placed in the dish or at the site in thin layer, with the laser beam. Treatment conditions (amount) and exposure (duration of cycle) were selected experimentally for each variety and specie of seeds and were 3-5 minutes for one treatment cycle.
Together with scientists we carried out field studies connected with the laser application for the protection of winter wheat from pests: stinking smut, rust, and leaf spotting. Plant laser treatment with the consideration of the main stages of development causes the suppression (at the level of fungicide Alto Super) of stem rust and leaf spotting of winter wheat. Sunflower laser treatment in the stage of budding before blossoming and during blossoming increases the anthodium diameter and crop yield and replaces the chemical protectant. Due to the fact that plant laser treatment takes place with the help of laser facility which is secured on the tractor moving around the field perimeter we managed to obtain the energy saving up to 81.5%, at least.
Research activities connected with the study of laser effect on the seeds and plants of different crops: wheat, sunflowers, soybeans, vegetables (tomatoes and cucumbers) were carried out in the creative cooperation of agricultural research teams of Biolaser Research and Production Firm, LLC, VNIIBZR, All-Russian Research Institute of Oil Crops, Krasnodar Research Institute of Agriculture named after Lukyanenko, Krasnodar Experimental Forestry. Institutes continued the research activities related to the influence of laser activation on the seeds and plants of different agricultural and forest crops. Simultaneously, activities connected with the implementation of laser for the treatment of seeds and plants were carried out on the farms in Krasnodar Krai and Rostov Region on the basis of commercial agreements. More than 50 farms with the area of more than 80000 ha have participated in the experiment over the recent years. Results confirmed the stable enhancement of productivity of crops by 5-10 centners/ha at the expense of the growth of field germinating capacity and germinating energy, increase of the amount of productive ears and mass of 1000 grains (see Table 2-4).
Analysis of obtained results confirmed the correctness of selected procedure of pre-sowing treatment of seeds and vegetative plants using the laser beam with low intensity. Data indicates the enhancement of crop yield and efficient inhibition of fungous pathogen complex.Experience of tomato growing using the laser technology in Kuban, Krasnodar Krai, at Kuban Product LLC in Belorechensk District in 2012 is of interest (Table 5). Commercial experiment was organized with the participation of the producer upon the outdoor growing of the tomato hybrid Solerosso of Dutch selection. According to the procedure the laser treatment of tomato plants was performed during the tractor movement with the operating laser facility LU-2 on technological track at the night time (after 9:00 PM). Harvesting was performed manually as the ripening took place: the first harvesting – 10.08.2012; the second harvesting – 17.08.2012; the third harvesting – 24.08.2012; the fourth harvesting – 31.08.2012. Results of the experiment efficiency are specified in Table 6. During the process of laser treatment under the action of red light (λ = 650 nm) the processes causing the growth and development acceleration, enhancement of crop yield and product quality occur in the organisms of seeds and plants. Relying on the results of work of Kuban Product LLC we fairly consider the use of laser technology for tomato growing to be efficient.
Of course, upon the irradiation of seeds and plants the method of laser beam scanning plays great role. Application of pulse radiation for scanning with the help of rotating mirror prism intensifies the light density on irradiated material, excites the seed pigments upon their treatment more intensely and plant chlorophyll upon the crop activation . The effect is connected with the mechanism of irradiation action – activation of electron complex of molecules, which make up the seed, in ionization of these molecules, in other words, the transition of molecules to excited state. In excited state molecules exist for fractions of second. And upon the scanning by laser beam this time is sufficient for the intensification of operation of enzyme systems controlling the germination of seeds .
Operation of pre-sowing laser activation of seeds in piles is carried out on the basis of irradiation of the surface by scanning laser beam using the special method which enhances the efficiency of seed saturation with bioenergy and simplifies the technical execution of this operation. Spring cultures (crops) must lay for not less than 10 days but not more than 50 days. Further increase of laying period impairs the effect. For the seeds of winter crops laying period is up to 13 days. Laying period is connected with the fact that phytochrome pigment has different sensitivity to the ambient temperature difference. In case of sowing of spring crops to the spring cold soil phytochrome of the seeds which accumulated small amount of bioenergy regenerates to the passive form. Winter grain seeds are sowed into warm soil and phytochrome does not change its properties. Energy received by the cell from laser is sufficient for the activation of the processes connected with the accumulation of additional harvest .
The laser facilities and technology were shown several times at the regional and international exhibitions in Krasnodar, Moscow, Hannover (Germany), Wuhan and Changsha (China). Having many years of experience of laser technology implementation in agriculture, Biolaser Research and Production Firm participates in the Innovation Program “Start” financed through the Bortnik Assistance Fund as well as venture capital fund of small business investments.