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Students analyze nutrient use in radish crops PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, September 21, 2013 12:27 AM


Staff Writer

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FORT JENNINGS — Eighth-grade students in Jeff Jostpille’s environmental science class at Fort Jennings School have been collaborating on a group science fair project where radish seeds are planted into prepared soils with varying nutrients, monitored for growth and color and then weighed at harvest by sections to record biomass. After all of that, the root will be served on the salad bar in the school’s cafeteria.


Students prepared for the experiment by sectioning off the raised beds and delineating six sections where differing nutrients — or no nutrients — will be used during the growing process. The soil sections include a control, with no added nutrients; fresh manure; bagged manure, compost, granular lawn fertilizer; and all-purpose plant fertilizer.


Jostpille said the radish seeds were planted by both classes into the prepared beds close to two weeks ago.

“The students planted seeds one seed at a time, eight inches apart and in rows spaced three inches apart,” Jostpille detailed. “Two times a week, each of the two classes come out and note plant growth.”

In conjunction with documenting physical attributes of the plants, students perform soil testing on each of the soil sections. “After planting, we watered the beds right away,” Jostpille explained. “The water releases the nutrients into the soil. Nutrient levels are as high now as they are going to be.”

Students test soil Nitrogen levels by mixing samples of the soil with water which creates a solution that is placed into a color comparator, which is a specially designed testing chamber for pH, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potash (K). Each comparator has a film color chart and when the soil solution and reaction capsule are combined, the color of the water is compared to the color chart. For best results, students view the solution in daylight — not direct sunlight — to illuminate the solution.

Per the student’s nutrient testing chart, the Nitrogen level of three soils containing fresh manure, granular lawn fertilizer and compost shows that after two weeks the Nitrogen has been depleted from both the fresh manure and compost sections and is sufficient in the granular fertilizer section, which is growing the fewest and weakest looking plants of the six sections. Per the student’s observations; how many plants are growing in each row, color, and height, the radish plants growing in the fresh manure are outperforming all other crops. In addition, each class compares their own plantings with the other plantings.

Fort Jennings eighth-grade students observe and record their designated radish crop’s attributes. Taking notes,  are, from the left, Makenna Ricker, Lillian Wisner, Natalie Morman, Ian Finn and Erik Klausing. (Delphos Herald/ Stephanie Groves)In general, the students enjoy the land lab and the experiment they are working on. They like the hands-on learning experience, being outside rather than inside taking notes and the group research is a precursor to the individual science fair projects they will each complete.

“From an initial question to a hypothesis to the actual experiment and data collection, each of the students will graph a final report,” Jostpille explained.

Last Updated on Saturday, September 21, 2013 12:31 AM

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