how different liquids affect plant growth

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Tue Dec 2 13:14:36 EST 1997


At 12:23 AM 12/2/97 +0000, QDANDERSON wrote:
>I am in middle school and doing a science project on the affect of different
>liquids on plant growth.  I can find a lot of information about plant growth,
>but nothing really about why certain liquids are better than others.  Can
>anyone help direct to a good reference....preferably online.  Thanks for the
>help.  Nathan

Hi Nathan!

I think some library work would show you some good ideas
such as what plants need from the soil...these are elements
from the periodic chart of the elements.  Liquids containing
these "nutrients" would improve plant growth.  They might
include:

C H O P K N S Ca Fe Mg Cu Mn Co Zn B Mo and more.

So, you might notice this spring after the snow melts that
where Fido urinated on the lawn, the grass greens up very
quickly.  The urine contains several forms of Nitrogen which
accelerate plant growth.  Of course too much of a good thing
is dangerous, so you might notice that each ring of dark green
grass in the lawn may have a dead zone in the middle. This
is where the nitrogen (or other compounds) in the center of
the spot are at such high concentration that the plants have
died.  This may be especially true if Fido is a large animal.
Also if Fido does her business in the same place every day any
overlapping spots can lead to grass death in the lawn for the
same reasons.

Other liquids may contain nutrients too.  Milk, for example,
contains a certain amount of protein.  Protein includes nitrogen
and sulfur. As "complex" forms of these elements, they can
nourish plants as they break down.  On the other hand, the
sugar and other nutrients can supply bacteria and fungi too,
so the milk can be supporting them in the soil.  Rotting milk,
Kool-aid, and other liquids can lead to really poor conditions
for root growth.  So many liquids can be detrimental.

The calcium in milk might be another positive factor which is
why some people put egg shells in their compost pile.

Any liquid with too much dissolved in it can be hypertonic.
This will kill plants very quickly when poured on the soil...
salty water or sugary Kool-aid will do this.  Regular soda
will do it too, but a diet soda will not.  Maybe a diet soda
isn't hypertonic?  You might want to look up this word in the
dictionary, or study the process called osmosis in your
biology book.  These can help you understand what to expect.

ross

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