Which fruit peel helps retain the most soil moisture?

(1) Hidden Valley Middle School

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Around 42% of fresh water is used for irrigation in the US. Since freshwater availability is limited and the population is increasing, development of innovative methods to help conserve water are critical. The aim of this research project was to study comparative efficacy of various fruit peels in retaining soil moisture. Naturally occurring water absorbent polymers such as pectin are present in fruit peels. We hypothesized that adding fruit peels would help water retention in soil and that orange peels will be the most effective in retaining soil moisture compared to other fruit peels. We tested the ability of orange, banana, and kiwi peels to retain soil moisture. Peels were ground up with olive oil and mixed with soil. Soil moisture levels were recorded using a sensor coded by this author first after adding water and at 24-hour intervals over a 96-hour observation period. This was repeated for five trials. At baseline, the moisture levels were relatively the same, at 24 hours the orange peel retained the most moisture and this result was sustained at 48- hour, 72 -hour, and 96- hour readings. We showed that orange peels retained the most moisture however, banana and kiwi peels also helped lock in more moisture compared to the control.

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