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What is Saltwater's Effect on Wheat Grass Plants?

based on 34 ratings
Author: Aimee B.

2011 VIRTUAL SCIENCE FAIR ENTRY

Abstract

There are four plants lettered A, B, C, D. The specific plant that was chosen was wheat grass because of its amazing height and its ability to grow faster than most plants. The plants type was abbreviated WG, and then the letter of the plant. For example if it was a Wednesday and the plant WGA was being watered I would put… 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 height=6 inches

WGA watered with ¼ cup water with ¼ teaspoon salt dissolved into the solution.

WGA did not grow since Thursday, December 30, 2010.

The plants shall be watered with a solution of ¼ cup water and (depending on the plant I will water them with) different amounts of salt. But the fourth plant (WGD) will be the control, which means it will only be watered with ¼ cup tap water. As follows:

WGA= No Salt, ¼ cup water

WGB= ¼ teaspoon salt
WGC= ½ teaspoon salt
WGD= 1 teaspoon salt
Type
Life Science, Plant Biology
Grade
Middle School
Difficulty of the Project
Medium
Cost
About $15
Safety Issues

No safety issues associated with this project.

Objective

The concept that’s being tested is to see how much saltwater a plant can withstand. Also to see what the timeline of the effects are on each plant with the differing amounts of salt being introduced into the water.

Materials

  1. Four wheat grass plants in a container
  2. Measuring cup
  3. Three measuring spoons: with measurements for ¼ teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, and 1 teaspoon
  4. Tap water
  5. Iodized salt
  6. Ruler
  7. Notebook
  8. Pen
  9. Sharpie
  10. Camera

Introduction and Background Research

Dehydration

Saltwater negatively affects plants by dehydrating them. Plants obtain water via their root system through osmosis. This osmosis is facilitated by cells around the hairs of the plant's roots that water passes through very easily. When fresh water is present, water is easily passed through the root cells and up through the rest of the plant as needed. However, these highly-permeable root cells work against the plant when the soil has a high salt content. The salt in the soil can actually pull water out of the cells and dehydrate the plant.

Inhibition

Saltwater also affects plants by inhibiting their growth and photosynthetic capabilities. All living organisms need salt, and plants absorb theirs through their root system along with their water. However, in salinated soil, plants absorb too much salt. Unable to get rid of this excess salt, the plant accumulates deposits in its cells that interfere with a variety of plant processes.

Observable Effects

The observable effect that saltwater has on plants depends on just how much salt is in the soil as a result of salt watering. Mild to moderate levels of salt in the soil may simply stunt the plant's growth and reduce its yield. Higher salt levels will lead to plant dehydration, and the plant's leaves will show signs of drought and burn (the leaves will begin to yellow, brown and crinkle on the edges) even if it is being amply watered. If sodium levels are high enough, then the soil will form hard crusty salt layers on the surface and your plant will defoliate and eventually die.

Research Question

How much saltwater can a plant withstand, and how long until it wilts?                                                                 
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