Testing Soil from an Abandoned Field for Future Secondary Succession (page 2)

Author: Michael Calhoun


Empty coffee can, large clear plastic or glass bowl, water, clear plastic wrap, and soil taken from an abandoned field also, an optional digital camera.

With the exception of the soil all of the items for this project are available locally at most major retail (Wal-Mart, Target, Dollar general, etc) discount department stores also, a Tri-fold cardboard display board can be purchased from an art & crafts supply store.

A test soil sample can be gathered from an abandoned field, cleared construction area, bank of a eutrophic pond*, cleared or vacant farmland, or a vacant city lot.

  • What materials are required?
  • Where can the materials be found?

Experimental Procedure:

   Name of abandoned field from which soil sample was taken:
 Succession Days  Number of Plants Seen    General Observations








  1. Scope up a sample of soil using an empty coffee can or other large container from an abandoned field, cleared construction area, bank of a eutrophic pond, cleared or vacant farmland, or a vacant city lot.
  2. Place the natural soil brought from the abandoned area into the large bowl, and dampen the soil with water.
  3. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in a sunny window.
  4. For 2 weeks, observe the bowl for any new plant growth. Describe and count the number of plants observed.
  5. Record these and all other observations in the table similar to the one shown.
  6. Using graph paper or a computer equipped with Excel® visually display the data in the table by plotting a bar or line graph showing the number of plants verse days of succession.
  7. The time (days) is displayed along the horizontal axis and the number of plants seen growing if any (population), is displayed along the vertical axis.
  8. Note: Do not allow the soil to dry out and using a pair of tweezers remove areas of mold that may develop inside of the bowel.

Terms/Concepts: For the parent/student, what terms and concepts are required to better understand the project?; Ecological succession, primary succession, secondary succession, pioneer species, eutrophic pond;


References to related books

Title:  Ecological succession

Authors: Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster

Publisher: Alphascript Publishing   ISBN-13: 9786130235949 and ISBN: 6130235941

This book is about ecological succession and offers a comprehensive discussion on primary and secondary succession. The young investigator and his or her parents (teachers) can use this book as a general reference resource.

Links to related sites on the web

Title: Ecological Succession


Title: Primary and Secondary Succession


Title: Facts about Secondary Succession


Title: Ecological Succession


NOTE: The Internet is dynamic; websites cited are subject to change without warning or notice!

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