The first crop circle of 2001 has appeared in Hampshire, the cradle of crop circles since the 1970's & 1980's.
Meonstoke is a hamlet nestling close to the Iron Age hill fort Winchester Hill, in a remote part of the Meon Valley in HampshireThe formation, located south west of the hill fort, was seen first by farm hand Ernie who noticed it from his cottage on the morning of 12 May.
The formation is in oil seed rape (canola) and consists of a flattened centre with 2 circles of standing crop. It is not completely circular, measuring 128 feet x 124 feet diameter and the flattened crop is all swirled anti-clockwise.
I was given permission to conduct scientific tests in the formation by the farmer and I went in on Sunday 20 May with researcher Christopher Weeks and past President of the Hampshire Dowsing Society, June Startford.
It was a warm sunny morning and we were all quite hot by the time we had walked some considerable distance to the formation. We were testing for the residual presence of nitrates. We buried two 25ml plastic bottles of distilled water at two different locations on the perimeter of the field to act as control samples.
The field was taped off as Foot and Mouth precautions still operate in Hampshire despite not having had any cases so far during the outbreak.
The crop was in full bloom, very dense and starting to knit together. On entering the circle, the flattened crop and the formation looked breath-takingly beautiful, the vivid yellow flowers sparkling brilliantly in the sunlight. The plants were rising up fast towards the light. The stems cracked and snapped beneath our weight as we walked as lightly as we could over the plants.
We examined the crop carefully starting at the perimeter. The large majority of stems were unbroken, bent over at 90 degrees to the ground. However on the far side of the formation there appeared to be an increased number of broken stems.
More bottles were buried on the 4 cardinal points of the compass and one in the centre.
After about half an hour we retrieved the bottles in the order in which they were buried (Apart from the 2 outside control samples). The readings were zero.
It is the first year we have been using this method and the first time we have experimented with it. We did try slitting open a stalk in order to test the sap but the result was unsatisfactory as the colour on the pad did not match any of the colour scales on the canister.
The reason we test for the presence of nitrates also takes us to the possible effects of Nitric Oxide.
It would seem likely that a strong electrical force measuring hundreds of thousands of volts per metre for a nanosecond is present when a formation appears. We also know that this is likely to be a plasma, a gas containing a high density of electrons and positive ions. When in a gas they stops behaving like individuals and start behaving coherently like an integrated whole, such as a swarm of bees, a shoal of fish etc., that can move simultaneously with tremendous force and speed. When this condition occurs nitric oxide, not to be confused with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can result. It is a by-product of combustion and can be formed from air by lightening. It was this situation that encouraged Jim Lyons to suggest to ADAS that there might be residual traces of Nitrogen in the soil that could be detected and measured and indeed this was proved to be the case in several of the formations tested. What is nitric oxide and what are its effects?
Nitric oxide has a bad reputation and has been given a bad press, being linked to acid rain and smog and is also thought to be carcinogenic. It gives us sore throats, sore and running noses and eyes and coughs. It can also lead to light-headedness and intoxication. It is a poison, but in small doses is a necessary one, it occurs quite naturally within our bodies, acting as a messenger and is responsible for regulating our blood pressure and plays a large part in controlling our digestive system; it is also thought to enhance our long term memory potential. In men, it plays an essential role, acting as a messenger relaying sexual excitement to the penis, dilating the blood vessels, causing an erection.
The procedure involves using Merckoquant Nitrate strips. It is very easy to conduct a quick quantitative determination of nitrates.
The test strip contains two reaction zones at one end, which should not be touched. The zone at the very end indicates both nitrate and nitrite, while the other end reacts only to nitrite. It serves as a warning zone as any pink to red-violet colouration indicates the presence of nitrite which interferes with the reaction.
The method of testing is to immerse the strips in the liquid for one second so that both the reaction zones are fully wetted.
Remove the strips; shake off the excess liquid and after one minute compare the reaction zones with the colour scale which is shown on the side of the container.
These strips can also be used to test soil, plant sap and on the plant itself.
The measurements are based on parts per million.
It is recommended that distilled water be used.
None of us experienced any strange physical or physiological effects
There were some broken stems, the majority were unbroken. Had other people been in before us or was it man-made? Clearly any visitors inevitably break stems when walking over such a fragile crop, as we did ourselves.
We were left with contradictory findings and therefore I feel unable to give an opinion.