Project Details:

Plasma-Activated Irrigation for Improving Soybean Development and Disease Tolerance

Parent Project: This is the first year of this project.
Checkoff Organization:Kansas Soybean Commission
Categories:Soybean diseases, Water quality & management, Soil fertility
Organization Project Code:1991
Project Year:2019
Lead Principal Investigator:Sungo Kim (Kansas State University)
Co-Principal Investigators:

Contributing Organizations

Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

(1) Generation of plasma-activated water (Obj. 1 & 2). Plasma is an ionized medium that contains many active components including electrons, ions, free radicals, reactive molecules, photons, UV, heat as well as electric and magnetic fields. Plasma treatment has mostly been used in materials processing to provide the desired surface characteristics on such materials as plastics, paper, textiles, and semiconductor materials. The demonstration of atmospheric pressure plasma processes has also broadened the field to include treatment of materials that are unsuitable for vacuum processes. Such improvements have led to the emergence of agricultural applications for the use of plasmas. Plasmas are generally categorized as either thermal (hot) or non-thermal (cold) plasma. Cold plasmas are of interest due to their unique characteristics in plasma etching, plasma display panels, plasma thin films, surface modification, micro-plasma devices, lighting, plasma medicine, and plasma agriculture. There is also particular interest in using cold atmospheric pressure plasmas for agriculture such as seed germination, plant growth, harvest/storage, washing, packaging, transport, storage, household, cooking, and garbage (Current Applied Physics 13 (2013) S19-S29). For example, the activation function of plasma can be used to increase seed germination rates. In addition, seeds or food products can be sterilized using radicals or UV generated by plasma. Furthermore, plasma can also use as a catalysis to increase a safe storage period of seeds or foods by decomposition of ethylene gas or nitrogen fixation. Flexible plasma bundle devices: Highly flexible plasma bundle devices using optical fibers, which can generate cold plasma and be inserted into a water reservoir without any contact of plasma electronics, will be fabricated. The PI has recently discovered the novel plasma jet-to-jet coupling effect that can generate strong plasma energy. Plasma-activated water: Plasma generates OH radicals in water using a plasma bundle device so that plasma-activated water sterilize and refresh soil and soybean plants. When microorganisms are treated with plasma and die due to loss of hydrogen atoms in the cell membranes which become water molecules.

(2) Measuring growth rate and yield components (Obj. 1). Soybeans will be planted in large pots in an RCBD under carefully controlled conditions in the greenhouse. Pot water holding capacity will be adjusted to field capacity prior to planting and maintained at this level throughout host development using either regular water or plasma-activated irrigation. Seed emergence and vigor will be measured from VE to V3. Time between vegetative development stages, time to flowering, and pod development will be measured in adult plants. Number of flowers, pods, and seeds per pod will be counted and compared between treatments to estimate yield components.

(3) Measuring soybean sudden death and charcoal rot disease symptoms (Obj. 2). In another experiment, plants will be artificially inoculated with Fusarium virguiliforme (SDS), M. phaseolina (charcoal rot), or mock-inoculated (control). The experiment will be conducted in the growth chamber. In the case of SDS, seeds will be planted in a matrix of pre-colonized pathogen inoculum and allowed to germinate and develop roots. SDS symptoms will be rated at the V3-V4 seedling stage using a 0 to 9 scale based on the degree of foliar chlorosis and necrosis. For charcoal rot, plants will be established in larger pots in a similar pathogen-colonized matrix to allow for root infection. A period of temperature stress (35 degrees C for 7 days) will be induced prior to flowering to encourage disease development. Plants will be rated for wilting symptoms and roots will be harvested and assessed for pathogen colony-forming units to see if host colonization differs between treatments. For both diseases, individual pots will be irrigated to field capacity (as in #2 above) with either regular water or plasma-activated water. As in #2, experiments will be set up using an RCBD.

Project Objectives

Objective 1: Improve growth rate and yield components of soybean plants using plasma-activated water.
Objective 2: Test whether plasma-activated water can reduce symptoms of soybean sudden death and charcoal rot disease under controlled conditions.

Project Deliverables

Tangible Outcomes:
1. The PI’s group builds off prior successes – The PI’s group has built various sized plasma devices (15 µm to 3m size) and highly reactive plasma liquid.
2. Excellent flexibility for any geometry.
3. Easy fabrication/simple structure – low investment cost and low business risk.
4. No arc, and low temperature – safety.
5. High speed, direct, and precise treatments.
6. Handy and light – can fabricate compact sized plasma bundle devices to treat and carry in the field.
7. Robust in poor environmental conditions.
8. Low operating cost.
9. Low power (under 1 W) – safety and low maintenance cost.
10. Long life time.
11. Low manufacturing and maintenance cost.
12. Green technology (no chemical and radiation remains).
13. Fast to market.

Intangible Outcomes:
1. Training students to be next intelligent farmers.
2. Provide learning/research experience for graduate and undergraduate students through involvement in research group activities.
3. Introduce research context into existing courses and develop a novel course in the physics, characterization, and applications of advanced plasma agriculture.
4. Outreach to undergraduate and graduate student education in the United States.
5. Increasing the reputation of high quality soybean products in Kansas and the United States.
6. Increasing the multidisciplinary collaborative environment between the Kansas Soybean Commission and Kansas State University.

Progress of Work

Updated September 28, 2018:

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Updated January 7, 2019:

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Updated April 16, 2019:

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Final Project Results

Updated September 24, 2019:

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Benefit to Soybean Farmers

This project can provide a cost-effective and high performance plasma device and an alternative method to increase growth rate, yield, and disease resistance for soybean farmers.

Performance Metrics

Project Years