New study contradicts pseudoscientific beliefs about the influence of the moon on agriculture
A research team from the Botanical Garden and Department of Experimental and Social Sciences Education of the Faculty of Teacher Training of the University of Valencia warns of the risk of pseudoscience in relation with myths or beliefs about the influence of the moon on agriculture. The findings of this scientific review of over 100 papers (including scientific articles, papers and higher education textbooks) have been published in the journal Agronomy.
The study originated in the classrooms of the Faculty of Teacher Training, where it is repeatedly observed that students of preschool and primary school education and the master's degree in secondary education teacher training, specializing in physics, chemistry, biology and geology, "arrive at the university with beliefs about the relationship between moon phases and crop biology," explains Professor Olga Mayoral, who is also deputy director of the Botanical Garden of the University of Valencia. This reality led teachers to consider a broad scientific review in order to determine whether these myths about the moon and plant growth had any scientific basis in biology and agronomy, as well as physics.
The authors, Olga Mayoral, Jordi Solbes, José Cantó and Tatiana Pina, state that the analyzed papers are, above all, scientific articles, but monographs and higher education textbooks have also been studied in detail. They are considered to be consolidated science and are used in the teaching of degrees related to botany, agronomy and physics.
Although the first referenced article on agricultural beliefs linked to the moon was published by Cyril Beeson in the journal Nature in 1946, studies on this subject have continued until as late as 2020. This review aims to collect the most relevant publications, confirming, firstly, that monographs "do not establish any relationship between moon and plant growth," and, secondly, that arguments contained in the articles "do not provide any clear scientific evidence to corroborate the influence of the Earth's satellite on crops," according the results of the study.
Promoting students' critical thinking
In the absence of scientific support for the causal relationship between lunar influences, especially tides and luminosity, with plant growth, the authors of this study encourage teachers involved in science education to "objectively tackle pseudoscientific ideas on this subject, while promoting critical thinking among students."
The researchers also warn that some popular traditions related to the influence of the moon on plant physiology have been incorporated into so-called biodynamic agriculture. It is this system of agricultural management that avoids the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, such as organic farming, but assumes that cosmic forces and rhythms, including the moon, influence the sowing and harvesting periods.