Jocelyn051405
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HELP PLEASE ASAP

Postby Jocelyn051405 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:53 pm

I have decided to change my project. And I was wondering if this would be a good idea or if it makes sense. (Project due in a week plz help). Do levels of nitrogen mean anything for ph in soil? Is this good or should I change it to something else. Thanks!

SciB
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Re: HELP PLEASE ASAP

Postby SciB » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:48 pm

Hi Jocelyn,

A week is kinda limiting to complete a project and write-up but we'll see if we can help.

Would your hypothesis be: Higher nitrogen levels in soil cause soil pH to...[increase? decrease?]

So, in order to answer that question you would need a soil test kit that measures nitrogen levels and pH. Do you have that or can get it quickly? Then you need some soil. I think plain old garden dirt would be ok because that should have a pH of near neutral--7. The amount of nitrogen in the dirt will depend on how much organic matter there is but probably is pretty low. You will have to buy a basic fertilizer like 10-10-10 that you can add to the soil to increase the nitrogen content from low to high. If your store has just a nitrogen fertilizer you can use that but be sure to read the label to make sure there are no extra ingredients that might alter the pH readings.

Try to get started asap so you can take several readings. You don't need to plant anything but do water the soil as if there were plants growing and keep the pots in a sunny location where the temperature does not drop below 60F [15C] at night. You want the microorganisms in the soil to be able to grow and work because that is what happens in healthy, natural soil. It would be a good idea to use a thermometer to measure the soil temperature a couple times a day just to see how much it varies. Also, set up three pots for each nitrogen level so that you will be able to average the pH readings. This gives much better accuracy than just a single reading.

I think this will work for you. Please post again if you have more questions.

Good luck!

Sybee

Jocelyn051405
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:14 pm
Occupation: Student

Re: HELP PLEASE ASAP

Postby Jocelyn051405 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:07 pm

Thank you! Well I did measure ph of the soil of my house (we have a small garden) and it was alkaline even though we do have plants that are growing there. We have some flowers that grow. Do you think I did it wrong.
As for the hypothesis I was think that the higher the nitrogen the more acidic the soil will be. Right now I do have a soil test kit that tests for ph, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.
One last question I will only be measuring one area right? And thank you very much for the help!

SciB
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Re: HELP PLEASE ASAP

Postby SciB » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:45 pm

You're welcome Jocelyn!

Did you try the pH test on your garden soil a couple of times? What was the reading? Your garden soil could have an alkaline pH but it would not be higher than 8.5 or most plants would not grow. Did you use distilled water to moisten the soil for the pH test? Did you use any sort of container that might have an alkaline residue like soap in it?

I'm not sure i understand your last question. Are you changing the nitrogen content by adding fertilizer or just testing soil at different locations? There are many factors that affect soil pH--the relative amounts of sand and clay and loam, the addition of lime or rock powders to the soil and the kinds of plants that thrive on the soil. I think the amount of nitrogen could alter the microbial populations of the soil. Soil is a living environment. It has billions of bacteria and fungi and these contribute to the health of most plants. That's why adding compost, manures and other natural fertilizers produces a healthy soil. A lot of research is being done now on the interaction between plant roots and fungi and it is turning out that nearly all our crop plants grow better when they have this fungal attachment in the soil. I don't know how pH would affect this symbiosis but it would certainly be an interesting area to do some experiments in--next project.

If you still have questions, please post again.

Sybee

Jocelyn051405
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:14 pm
Occupation: Student

Re: HELP PLEASE ASAP

Postby Jocelyn051405 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:52 pm

Thank you very much! You have really helped me. I have been working very hard on trying to get it done but I have just one question. I know what I'm doing for my project I just need help with the question. I feel like I know the question but I want it to sound smart not just put it in a simple way. I would appreciate if you helped me with the question. Once again thank you very much!

SciB
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Posts: 1815
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher

Re: HELP PLEASE ASAP

Postby SciB » Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:35 pm

You are very welcome!

Your question (hypothesis) is simply like what I said before--a statement: High levels of nitrogen fertilizer in soil can [increase? decrease?] soil pH. You have to decide whether you think increasing the nitrogen content will raise or lower the pH. I don't know. There is a third choice and that would be to say that increasing nitrogen levels does not change the soil pH.

Soil is a complex and wonderful ecosystem and the more you study it the more interesting it becomes. Soil is not just an inert passive bunch of dirt. It contains billions of bacteria per cubic cm and threads of fungal mycelia, earthworms, insect larvae, plant roots, etc. All living things need nutrients of some kind and a source of nitrogen (like soluble nitrate) is one of those that is necessary for them to live.

What I am trying to say is that I think if you see a change in pH after adding a source of N that it could be a result of the metabolism of the living things. I guess what you should do is a control experiment in which you use a sterile potting soil that has no living things in it, measure its pH, add some N and measure the pH again. If you still see the change in pH then you can conclude that it was due to a physico-chemical reaction rather than the soil creatures.

When you write about your project try to make your sentences very clear and understandable. Explain why you thought N fertilizer would change soil pH (or not) and talk a little about what other scientists have found about soil pH. Then describe the methods you used to test your hypothesis. Show the results and write a conclusion in which you try to explain what you found.

The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that in science there is no right or wrong answer--only what your results show. There have been many scientists in the past who came up with new theories that other scientists did not believe--at first. Eventually, with persistence and creativity (and often a little luck!) they put together a compelling story that was accepted by the scientific community.

Good luck and keep posting!

Sybee


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