30 Jan 2012, 00:05
Wind turbines, is there anything they can't do?
We already know they produce clean energy and are loved by the public, but now it turns out that maybe, just maybe, they could also improve crop productivity.
That's right, farmers could have another reason to install wind turbines on their land, over and above the obvious financial inducements.
Eugene Takle, an agricultural meteorologist (we would have loved to have seen the look on his career advice officer's face when he voiced that particular aspiration) at Iowa State University is one of a number of scientists undertaking research into how wind turbines installed in America's corn belt are affecting the growth of the crops they tower over.
According to National Geographic, the early indications are pretty encouraging. Apparently the turbulence created by turbines can increase concentrations of CO2 in an area, limit the creation of dew, and result in cooler daytime temperatures and warmer nights, all of which should help crop growth.
There are a couple of downsides to do with plant respiration and other things we won't pretend to understand. But the research team currently reckon the gains will outweigh any negatives.
Which is more than enough to convince the Sceptic Tank to ditch the Baby Bio and instead erect a small wind turbine in his window box.
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