Your stressed plants are yelling at you: learn to listen to them and take care of them as they ask you to

According to the latest research, in the future we may be able to use recording devices and (AI) to monitor crops, but in the meantime, just watch our carefully to learn from them.

If there were still any doubts or skeptics about the language of plants, artificial intelligence has helped clarify it: when they are deprived of water or simply cut off, they make “squeaks” to warn us. These sounds may vary, but they are always at a high enough frequency for us to hear. However, if we are not aware of them or if we hesitate, it is a waste of time. Recognizing and knowing their calls is the best way to care for the plants that decorate your home, so pay attention to this article.

Thanks to a new study published in the journal Cell we have further (and more complete) evidence that plants are much more than “simple” inanimate life forms. Some Previous researches have already revealed that drought produces in plants a state similar to what we call stress. By definition, stress is a set of alterations that occur in an organism as a physical response to repeated stimuli.

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In their case, plants can undergo a process called cavitation, which results in the formation of vapor bubbles in the vessels, disrupting the flow of water. It is precisely during this process that the plant produces sounds that some mammals and insects and, of course, other plants, can perceive by themselves and, although humans do not have the same ability, we can detect them through recording devices (and even without them).

Microphones to hear them

One of these earlier studies had revealed, among other things, that some plants could react with a real “panic” to the arrival of rain. It is also known, for example, that plants do not like to be touched.

For this new study, researchers installed microphones near several tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants in a soundproof box and in a greenhouse. Some were healthy and others were stressed (dehydrated or cut plants).

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After analysis of the data, it appears that healthy plants emitted less of this “cry” measured per hour. On the other hand, others emitted up to several dozen. Of all the plants, the drought-affected tomato plants were the loudest, emitting more than forty calls per hour. These screams were in the form of a sound similar to that made by plastic bubbles when they are popped.

We can also understand them by sight

The researchers then ran these recordings through a machine learning algorithm (an artificial intelligence system that uses data to learn and create statistical models). They then found that it had a success rate of about 70% in distinguishing sounds made by different plants exposed to different stressors.

These stressors are often related to temperature or watering, or both at the same time. Thus, frost should always be avoided, but so should constant exposure to sunlight.

This new finding suggests that in the future, we can use recording devices and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor crops for these signs of stress. In the meantime, there are simpler ways to get closer to our plants and prevent them from deteriorating.

The first thing to know is that stress is often caused by temperature or irrigation, or both. Therefore, frost should always be avoided, but so should constant exposure to sunlight. To get the best of light your plant needs, simply consult an expert when purchasing to find out what it needs. Be careful not to transplant them wrongly or at the wrong time (this step is essential for them to develop).

What to avoid

In the same way, the lack as well as the excess of water will be the reason of our plants. In this sense, it is necessary to treat the plant according to its roots, that is to say, to imagine it beyond its visible part: as the website Verdecora explains, drought and waterlogging mean that what remains underground is not capable of absorbing nutrients and distributing them properly to the plant's tissues, which, in the worst case, kills the plant's life.

In addition, the chemical imbalances of the chosen substrate must also be considered. Although there are different types of soil, you should ask your florist or greenhouse store to tell you which one is best for your plant, in any case, it is essential that the substrate is rich and, of course, free of fungi and bacteria.

A lack or excess of nutrients in the substrate can also be the result of improper administration of fertilizer, or even a lack of renewal of the soil at the right time. It is then that these fungi and bacteria turn into viruses or attract insects which are, in fact, one of the fundamental reasons for stress in plants.

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