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Agricultural Ideas for Science Fair Projects

— U.S. Department of Agriculture
Updated on May 2, 2014

Agriculture doesn't have its own category in science fairs, but it is a part of many of the "official" categories. Here, we've put together a few basic ideas of agricultural science projects you can do. Use these ideas as a jumping-off place for coming up with your own project.

Chemistry

How do different conditions affect the speed at which fruit and vegetables ripen?

Temperature, light, placement in sealed bags, exposure to other ripe fruit--all have different effects on different fruits. You'll need to look into ethylene gas.

How do different types of fertilizers affect plant growth?

Fertilizers differ in their amounts of the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Get different fertilizers from a garden shop or nursery and apply them to groups of the same plant. Do the different fertilizers change how the plants grow? You could measure height, width, number of leaves, how fast the plants grow, number of flowers or yield.

What happens when you grow sweet potatoes next to other plants?

Compare how fast the other plants grow at different distances from sweet potatoes. Remember to grow some control plants nowhere near the sweet potato. Check out the term allelopathy.

Botany

How do different treatments change how fast seeds sprout?

You can find out how quickly seeds sprout under different temperatures, or after being soaked for different times or in different liquids. Or, see how one kind of treatment affects different types of seeds.

How close does a pesticide have to be to protect a plant?

Grow a number of groups of the same plant. Apply a Bt-based insecticide directly to the plant according to the directions on the package and at various distances from the plants. Compare the amount of insect damage to each group of plants. You might also look at how big or fast each group of plants grows.

What effect does seed size have on how well a crop like oats or wheat grows?

You can define success a number of ways: how many seeds sprout, how fast the plants grow, how tall the plants get.

Which way is up?

Many seeds and bulbs have a definite top and bottom. What happens if you plant them upside down or sideways? Will the seeds still grow; will it take longer for leaves to start showing up?

What happens if you change a seed’s direction once it starts to sprout? Many seeds like beans can be sprouted in moist cotton or paper towels. What happens if you turn the seed 90 or 180 degrees from right side up every few days after it sprouts?

You can take it a step further by using a record player turntable to simulate changing gravity’s pull on seeds. You’ll want to know more about the chemical auxin, which affects where roots and stems grow.

Roots on Restriction (Would that be grounded?)

Does the amount of room a plant has for roots make a difference in how big a plant will grow, regardless of how much fertilizer the plant is given? Plant seeds in a variety of different-sized containers using vermiculite or other soil-less material, so you will be able to give each plant a measured amount of fertilizer. Or plant a number of plants in the same size containers and vary the amount of fertilizer and see what happens. Be sure to use small enough containers so that root growth really will be constricted.

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