A Scientific Investigation of Alternative Growing Methods to Cultivate Lactuca sativa

(1) Meadow Park Middle School, Beaverton, Oregon

Hydroponics is the process of planting seeds inside a solid growth medium instead of soil and providing them with nutrients that soil would normally provide. Aquaponics is a method of growing plants without soil, utilizing fish waste to fertilize plants. In this experiment, we compared both methods to observe if hydroponic nutrients and fish waste would produce plants with different heights when growing a widely cultivated vegetable like Lactuca sativa. Our hypothesis was that aquaponics would be a more efficient farming method in terms of growth per day and average height, since the method uses a natural fertilizer. The aquaponics system would simulate an open environment, helping the plants better adapt to the natural fertilizer provided by fish. At the beginning of the experiment, the plants in the aquaponics system were taller than those in the hydroponics system, but the hydroponics plants had a faster growth rate than aquaponics plants by the end of the experiment. However, the aquaponics system had a higher growth rate than the hydroponics system in the majority of the experimental timeframe, and had a higher average plant height. Therefore, the aquaponics system was a superior system to the hydroponics system, producing plants with better height by 0.4 centimeters on the final day, and higher average growth rate by 0.02329545455.

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