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Soil fertility and antsFeatured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to find out whether the fauna inhabiting the soil will help with soil fertility and plant growth. The experiment was done using ants together with radish plants.

Hypothesis

The presence of ants in soil will help plants grow better and faster.

Scientific Terms

Nutrients, organisms, decomposition, aeration, porous, moisture, bacteria, fungi

Background

Soil fertility

As plants grow, they consume nutrients in the soil. As the mineral content depletes in the soil, they need to be replenished. This is where the organisms living in the soil play their part by helping in the decomposition and transportation of  nutrients to be used by plants.
Ants make their nests in soil. The ant’s food and manure are also  deposited in the soil. The burrowing activity of the ants helps to  till the soil, provides better aeration, makes the soil more porous, improves the moisture content  and helps in the transfer of  organic materials into the soil.

The ants play an important role in the basic nutrient cycle of the soil. Plant residues, animal manure or other organic materials are decomposed by bacteria, fungi and other similar organisms into  much simpler forms. These organic matters are carried by the ants into the soil where they are further "reduced" before being absorbed by the plants as nutrients.
 

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
15
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 10 days for observation
Material availability:
Ants may be found in parks/gardens. Radish seeds may be purchased at a gardening supplies store/supermarket.
Safety concerns:

Be careful when handling the ants. They bite! Wear protective gloves. Adult supervision recommended.