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Effects of Fertilizer on Water


Published on Mar 30, 2017

Abstract

The objective: Create a fertilizer that is more effective in growing a plant and had a lower negative impact on the environment/water through less nitrates and phosphates present in our fertilizer.

For our lab, the impact that fertilizer has on the environment was studied. More specifically, the harmful effects of fertilizer run-off were researched. In order to reduce the impact that fertilizers have on the environment, a lab was conducted to create a new, greener fertilizer. The main objective would be for the fertilizer to have a less concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two nutrients out of approximately twelve nutrients that a plant needs.

However, when there is an excess of nitrogen and phosphorus, the two chemicals enter a nearby water source. When nitrogen and phosphorus enters the water, it causes eutrophication, an ecosystem’s response to foreign substances. Eutrophication can cause wildlife to die due to a depletion of oxygen or a loss of habitat for other living organisms. Another detrimental effect of nitrogen and phosphorus is the harmful effect they can have on drinking water. If consumed by infants, contaminated water can cause hazardous disorders such as methemoglobinema.

In order to reduce the harmful effects that fertilizers have on the environment, this experiment was used to develop a new formula of fertilizer. The fertilizer that was produced would be a greener alternative to a commonly used fertilizer, Miracle Gro. In order to produce a greener alternative to Miracle Gro, a chemical analysis of the concentrations of the harmful nutrients in Miracle Gro would be conducted. Then, using these values, the experiment allowed for a new fertilizer that contained less of the harmful components. Through research, it was determined that a combination of eggshells, banana peels, and coffee grinds would be the most beneficial fertilizer to both the plant and the environment. The new fertilizer was named EBC Youth. EBC Youth was then tested to confirm its superiority over Miracle Gro fertilizer.

Purpose:

The purpose of this lab is to investigate the impact of fertilizer to the environment and to determine a new fertilizer that will be less harmful to the environment. This will be tested by comparing the pH levels and nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the soil affected by the various fertilizers.

Hypothesis

If eggshells, coffee grinds, and banana peels are used as a fertilizer (EBC Youth), then the mixture will produce a less harmful runoff because they have lower concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus. In addition to the less harmful effects of the EBC Youth fertilizer, it will also produce greener and larger plants due to it having the ideal amount of necessary nutrients a plant requires to prosper.

Experimental Design

In the experiment, three sets of four plants were grown using three different methods. The first four plants were grown without any fertilizer and were given only water. The next four plants were given quantities of Miracle-Gro fertilizer. Lastly, the last four plants were given the EBC Youth fertilizer solution. In our experiment, there was one independent variable and five dependent variables that were studied.

Procedure:

Making the EBC Youth Fertilizer:

Obtain one eggshell and use blender to grind up into fine powder.

Use 0.3384g of coffee grinds and mix with 0.2256g eggshell powder.

Obtain one banana peel and use blender to blend it. Mix 0.1128g with eggshell powder and coffee grinds.

Put mixture in 2L of water and mix thoroughly in a 2L beaker.

Making the Miracle- Gro Solution

Scoop 2.5mL (1/2 tsp) of Miracle Gro fertilizer into 2L of water. Mix thoroughly.

Preparing the pots:

1. Fill twelve Jiffy-Pots 2 up to 3 centimetres with soil.

Place twenty Mr. Fothergill's Seedlings and Sprouts seeds into soil.

Cover seeds with soil up to 4.5 centimetres.

Separate the twelve pots into three groups of four. Label four of them as "None," label four of them as "Miracle Gro," and label four of them as "EBC Youth."

Take 25mL of EBC Youth fertilizer solution and pour into the four pots labelled "EBC Youth."

Take 25mL of Miracle Gro fertilizer solution and pour into the four pots labelled "Miracle Gro."

Pour 25mL of water into the four pots labelled "None."

Water each pot once a day for one week.

Record any observations during the process.

Analyzing the soil:

Take out the pH vial of Ferry Morse 980 Soil Testing Kit.

Fill the vial up with soil from a pot labelled “None” to first line.

Fill the vial up with water up to the indicated line.

Open the capsule and pour into solution.

Close the vial with the cap and shake thoroughly. Make sure cap is on tightly to avoid spilling.

Observe any colour changes to the solution and compare with colour chart provided.

Record any observations.

Repeat steps 1-6, but use soil from the pot labelled “EBC.”

Repeat steps 1-6, but use soil from the pot labelled “Miracle Gro.”

Take out the nitrogen vial of Ferry Morse 980 Soil Testing Kit.

Fill the vial up with soil from a pot labelled “None” to indicated line.

Fill the vial up with water up to the indicated line.

Open the capsule and pour into solution.

Close the vial with the cap and shake thoroughly. Make sure cap is on tightly to avoid spilling.

Wait ten minutes before observing colour changes. Use colour chart to determine concentration.

Record any observations.

Repeat steps 9-14, but use soil from the pot labelled “EBC.”

Repeat steps 9-14, but use soil from the pot labelled “Miracle Gro.”

Take out the phosphorus vial of Ferry Morse 980 Soil Testing Kit.

Fill the vial up with soil from a pot labelled “None” to indicated line.

Fill the vial up with water up to the indicated line.

Open the capsule and pour into solution.

Close the vial with the cap and shake thoroughly. Make sure cap is on tightly to avoid spilling.

Wait ten minutes before observing colour changes. Use colour chart to determine concentration.

Record any observations.

Repeat steps 9-14, but use soil from the pot labelled “EBC.”

Repeat steps 9-14, but use soil from the pot labelled “Miracle Gro.”

Take out the potassium vial of Ferry Morse 980 Soil Testing Kit.

Fill the vial up with soil from a pot labelled “None” to indicated line.

Fill the vial up with water up to the indicated line.

Open the capsule and pour into solution.

Close the vial with the cap and shake thoroughly. Make sure cap is on tightly to avoid spilling.

Wait ten minutes before observing colour changes. Use colour chart to determine concentration.

Record any observations.

Materials

- pack of Mr. Fothergill's Seedlings and Sprouts

- 8mL of Miracle-Gro fertilizer

- eggshells

- twelve Jiffy-Pots 2

- banana peels

- blender

- coffee grinds

- water

- Ferry Morse 980 Soil Testing Kit

- ruler

- (3) clear plastic holding containers

Observations

Effects of Fertilizer on Water

Effects of Fertilizer on Water

Effects of Fertilizer on Water

Analysis:

In this experiment, the fertilizer given to plants was utilized as an independent variable. The plants in this experiment were oriental mustard sprouts: plants that grow in an extremely short amount of time. The sprouts also did not require much sunlight. The first four pots of plants were given no fertilizer and had only water, oxygen and sunlight for a source of energy. The second set of four pots were given Miracle-Gro fertilizer solution. This solution contained most of the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus potassium, and other nutrients. Lastly, the fianl set of four pots were given a solution of EBC Youth fertilizer.

The EBC youth solution was specially created to have sufficient mounts of needed nutrients a plant needs, but have a "greener" impact on the environment. The effectiveness of the three test were judged based on five different dependent variables: height of plant, pH of soil, colour of plant, concentration of nitrogen, and concentration of phosphorus. There were also controlled variables, such as the amount of sunlight received, or the times when watered. All twelve plants were placed in the centre of a table in a room with all the curtains closed.

Also, the plants were watered at exactly 4:00PM each day. A small, brown plant with high concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil would be considered less successful than a tall green plant with little concentrations of nitrogen or phosphorus in terms of the purpose of this lab: to create a more eco-friendly fertilizer that would have outstanding effects on plant growth.

After conducting the tests on all twelve plants, each set of plants was analyzed. Firstly, the plants without any fertilizer used was observed. The height of the “None” plants averaged to approximately 7.3cm and the leaves were slightly green, with a tinge of yellow. Using the soil testing kit, the pH of the soil was determined to be slightly acidic. This was determined by comparing the colour of the test tube to the colour chart. Finally, using the soil testing kit again, it was determined that the plants with no fertilizer had little concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus. Again, this was an observational process and required physical observations to be made. Overall, the quality of this plant was decent. Although it was small in size and didn’t have a strong green colour, the plant surely was environmentally friendly, due to its near-neutral pH and little concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Next, the second set of plants were observed. These plants were given Miracle Gro as a source of nutrients. The height of the “Miracle Gro” plants averaged to approximately 9.1cm and the leaves were very green. There were also many more sprouts in the second set of plants than the first set. By using the soil testing kit, the pH of the soil was determined to be acidic. This was determined by comparing the colour of the test tube to the colour chart. By using the soil testing kit, it was determined that the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations of the plants given Miracle Gro were quite high.

Again, this was simply a physical observation. Overall, the quality of these plants were good and they surpassed the quality of the first set. Since it was given additional nutrients, the plant’s height increased by 1.9cm and the colour of the plants looked a lot greener. The only downfall to these plants were that the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations were higher when compared to the first set.

Finally, the plants that were given the EBC Youth fertilizer were observed. The height of the “EBC” plants averaged to approximately 13.7cm and the leaves were very green. Using the soil testing kit, the pH of the soil was determined to be slightly acidic (around 6). This was, again, determined by comparing the colour of the test tube to the colour chart. Finally, using the soil testing kit, it was determined that the plants with EBC Youth fertilizer had less concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus than the Miracle Gro set of plants. However, this was an observational process and required physical observations. Overall, the quality of this plant was very good. This is because the plant was very tall and sprouted in multiple numbers. Also, because the pH of the soil was just slightly acidic and the nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations were less than that of the Miracle Gro plants, it is evident that EBC Youth was very successful.

Through these results it is evident that EBC Youth Fertilizer was a more eco-friendly fertilizer and a better source of energy for the plants. The plants that grew with EBC Youth Fertilizer were taller than the plants grown with Miracle-Gro and without fertilizer. They were also greener and healthier looking. The stems were strong and the leaves were not wrinkled. This demonstrated that EBC was just as capable of growing plants as miracle grow, and even better. The nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels of the soil from the EBC plants were the lowest. Nitrogen levels were the most similar results in all three trials. Miracle Gro had a low nitrogen concentration, EBC measured slightly lower and the "no fertilizer" plants had a very low nitrogen concentration. The levels of phosphorus and potassium were more spread out in the results but for EBC, it always had the low levels of hamful chemicals, making it the more eco-friendly fertilizer.

Another important factor that made EBC a more successful fertilizer would be the amount of potassium in the fertilizer. Potassium helps in the overall growth of a plant. It provides plants with nutrients for a strong and healthy stock and green leaves. Because the EBC fertilizer contained 3.12g of potassium, the plant was able to absorb these nutrients and grow better than the Miracle Gro fertilizer plants, which had only 0.4g of potassium, and the no fertilizer plants, which had only trace amounts of potassium.

However, an issue with too much potassium is that a surplus of potassium in drinking water can be hazardous to human health. Hyperkalemia, a disorder that causes kidney failures and diseaeses, is a result of the kidney not working properly due to the high concentrations of potassium. Therefore, it must be noted that while EBC fertilizer is environmentally friendly due to it’s low concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus, it has quite a higher amount of potassium than Miracle Gro, which can be harmful to the environment.

Conclusion

The purpose of this experiment was to investigate the impact that fertilizers have on the environment and to create a new fertilizer that will have less harmful effects on the environment.

For the purposes of this experiment, the success of the fertilizer would be analyzed by looking at pH levels, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, and overall plant growth, which includes colour and height, after 10 days. Miracle Gro fertilizer was chosen to be the fertilizer used in our comparison experiment.

Before the experiment began, it was predicted that the newly created formula of eggshells, coffee grinds, and banana peels would be more of a successful fertilizer than an average fertilizer brand. This prediction came from the idea that the combination of the three ingredients would have less of the harmful chemicals in it than a Miracle Gro fertilizer, but have sufficient amount to provide adequate plant growth.

By taking masses of the eggshells, coffee grinds, and banana peels, it was possible to determine the concentrations of the three most essential nutrients needed in plant growth: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. After conducting the experiment, it was concluded that EBC Youth fertilizer was a better fertilizer than Miracle Gro fertilizer.

Science Fair Project : Grade Level: Middle School;