Skylin Desjarlais and Deshawn McKay
Age 13 and 14 | O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, Crane River, Manitoba
Manitoba First Nations Science Fair 2017 Gold Medal | Canada-Wide Science Fair 2017 Special Award: First Nations University of Canada Award
The science and art of backyard composting is one essential skill that is forgotten nowadays by most people. In the O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, we hardly heard of households still producing organic fertilizers in the traditional way.
This project compared the effect of different worm juice dilutions and water on the growth of canola seeds which were planted in our vermicast enriched community soil.
The type of soil and its associated characteristics determine the crops that can be grown, their yield potentials, the quantities of nutrients that are needed and the field practices that will be necessary to maintain optimum soil conditions for plant growth (Manitoba Agriculture, 2016).
If one would take an afternoon stroll or a quick walk in the O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nations Reserve and observe the soils available in the community, it would be easy to notice that we have clay and sand all over the area. In our desire to find reliable information as to what type of soil we have in our community, we ended up seeking guidance from Mr. Steve Hamm, a soil cartographer of the Manitoba Agriculture Agri-Resource Branch. We found out that the soils in our area are described as Brunisolic which means they are a naturally forested soil. Mr. Hamm (personal communication, April 13, 2016) added that the soils in our area would be classified as loamy which would be approximately in the middle of the sand to clay spectrum. These soils are generally very stony and have been largely influenced in the past by glacial activity. He also mentioned that the topsoil in our area would typically be fairly shallow and would generally not support cultivated crops very well. The initial observation that we had about our community soil was confirmed by the information shared to us by the soil cartographer.
Back in January 2017, when we were starting our entry for the Manitoba First Nations Science Fair, we focused on vermicomposting. Vermicomposting, according to Elmore (2010), uses Red Wriggler worms (Eisenia foetida) to convert food waste and organic material into a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer that you can use in many different ways. We gathered soil from the community and placed them into two different containers. We put pure community soil in one container while we mixed worm castings with the community soil on the other one. Then we planted potatoes on both soil and compared the rate of plant growth. The results showed that the potatoes we used for our previous experiment grew better in the vermicast and community soil mixture. We also invited community members to the school to listen to our vermicomposting mini-lectures and asked them later if they would support a community-wide vermicomposting project if ever it will be launched, and they all said that they will.
During the Manitoba First Nation Science Fair, one of the judges who happened to be an established vermicomposter shared valuable information on worm juice as one of the by-products of vermicomposting. Armed with this new knowledge our interest was ignited to do further research. We now incorporated this finding with our previous experiment. Through the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Science Facilitators, we were able to have worm juice and start our experiment with yet another natural fertilizer produced by nature.
The purpose of the project is to:
• Introduce vermicomposting to the O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation Reserve.
• Find natural ways of enriching community soil so that it can support better plant growth.
• Compare plant growth of canola seed planted in a vermicast enriched community soil using worm juice in different dilutions and water.
The project has the following hypotheses:
H01: There is no difference on the rate of growth of the canola seeds watered with H20 and worm juice in different dilutions. (Ho1: μ1 = μ2 = μ3 = μ4 = μ5)
H02: There is no difference on the rate of growth of the canola seeds watered with H20 and 100% worm juice. (H02: μ1 = μ2)
H03: There is no difference on the rate of growth of the canola seeds watered with H20 and 75% worm juice and 25% H20. (H03: μ1 = μ3)
H04: There is no difference on the rate of growth of the canola seeds watered with H20 and 50% worm juice and 50% H20. (H04: μ1 = μ4)
H05: There is no difference on the rate of growth of the canola seeds watered with H20 and 25% worm juice and 75% H20. (H05: μ1 = μ5)
• 2- 100 ml graduated cylinders • Seed starting trays
• 2500 ml of pure worm juice • Plastic rulers
• Facial masks • 525 g community soil
• 4- 1000 ml beakers • Measurement log form
• 2500 ml of distilled water • Hand trowels
• Latex gloves • 525 g vermicast
• 1- 1000 ml Erlenmeyer flask • Project log book
• Canola seeds • Pens
• Plastic spoons • Digital scale
• 5- 10 ml medicine droppers • Plastic containers
• Grow Light
Soil Preparations: We gathered community soil and harvested our worm castings. Then we created our vermicompost enriched community soil by mixing 525 g of community soil and 525 g of worm castings. After the soils were mixed evenly, we filled our seed starting tray with it.
Seed Starting Tray Preparations: We labeled the top part of our seed trays with letters (A to E) that correspond to the different types of liquids that will be used to water each Canola seeds. On the left side of the seed tray, we put numbers (1 to 6) to determine how much of the samples per liquid dilutions we are producing. We poked holes on the catch basin of the seed starting tray so that liquids can be drained properly and the seeds would not absorb a different liquid dilution.
Seed Preparation: We wrapped the Canola seeds in a kitchen towel and moistened it with water. We left it overnight before we transferred them in a seed starting tray.
Water and Worm Juice Dilutions Preparations: We have identified that we will water the canola seeds with the following:
A: 100 % distilled H20
B: 100 % worm juice
C: 75% worm juice and 25% H20
D: 50% worm juice and 50% H20
E: 25% worm juice and 75% H20
We used 1000 ml as the base measurement to help us in the preparation of our water to worm juice ratio for dilutions C, D, and E. We used a 100 ml graduated cylinder in transferring the different liquids in their respective containers. We watered the seeds with 10 ml. of each liquid.
Planting, Watering and Measuring: Our experiment ran for 19 days. On the first day, March 23, 2017, we transferred the moist Canola seeds in to the prepared seed starting tray. We watered the seeds using different liquid dilutions every other day and decided to measure on the same interval once a seed sprouted.
We utilized two statistical equations to test our hypotheses. We used Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), which is a test to compare two or more means to find out if we will accept or reject our H01.
When the data on Table 1 was subjected to a statistical analysis using ANOVA, it generated a P-value of 0.110912 which is higher than the .05 alpha value, therefore, we accepted the hypothesis that there is no difference on the rate of growth of the canola seeds watered with H20 and worm juice in different dilutions. This did not stop us and we examined the means of each dilution and we noticed that we can still perform another statistical test.
We performed t-Tests to determine which among the four types of worm juice dilutions have a more potent effect on plant growth than H20.
Table 2 shows the results and it tells us that there is no significant difference on the rate of growth of the Canola plant when they were watered with H20 and dilutions B (100% worm juice), C (75% worm juice and 25% H20), and E (25% worm juice and 75% H20), leading us to accept H02, H03, and H05.
It can also be gleaned from Table 2 that H20 has more potent effect than dilution D (50% worm juice and 50% H20) based from the calculated mean of plant growth.
The results generated, although not that remarkable, were able to prove that worm juice can boost plant growth. This finding will be really beneficial for the O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation Community in terms of improved soil capabilities and attaining sustainability.
Most of the Canola seeds took a longer time to grow. There were some that grew earlier than most of the others. This, we believe, affected the data because we were already taking down measurement for some growing plants, but there were still no recorded growth for the rest. The quality of the seed that we used has an effect to the data that we gathered and we have observed this on the seeds watered with dilution D. It is also more challenging to use the Canola seed because of their size.
Our simple experiment can be replicated anytime. We suggest that more time for observations must be allotted so that the rate of plant growth can be compared and analyzed more extensively. We only had 19 days for this experiment and extending the time for up to a few months will probably provide more remarkable results. Researchers can also include a larger population size for their experiment.
Using different types of seeds that can easily grow in a community can be used when replicating our experiment. This ensures the viability of growing these crops and benefiting from the harvest.
Aside from the rate of plant growth, other variables like the weight and leaf qualities can also be observed as indictors of the effect of each dilution.
The success of our science project has been attained through collaboration. We would like to extend our gratitude to the following: O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi Chief and Council, Donald Ahmo School Administrators and Staff, School Science Fair Committee, Manitoba Agriculture Agri-Resource Branch, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, our supportive parents and guardians, and above all to the Great Creator who makes all things with a purpose.
Elmore, D. (2010). Vermicomposting. Green Your Routine, Tips for Home. Retrieved from http://greenactioncentre.ca/green-your-routine/vermicomposting/
Manitoba Agriculture.(2016). Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Interpretive Maps.
Retrieved from http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/land/soil-survey/print,interpretive-maps.html#intro
Avis, R. (2011). Everything you need to know about composting with worms. Retrieved From http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/liquid-worm-juice-superfood-for-my-organic-garden/
Canola Council of Canada. (2016). What is Canola?. Retrieved from http://www.canolacouncil.org/oil-and-meal/what-is-canola/
Lamp’l, J. (2015). Liquid worm juice; Superfood for organic gardens. Retrieved from http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/liquid-worm-juice-superfood-for-my-organic-garden/
McMillan, J.H. (2012). Educational research: Fundamentals for the consumer. Boston:Pearson Education Inc.
Mills, G.F & Smith, R.E.,(1981). Soils of the Ste. Rose Du Lac area. Manitoba Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from:http://sis.agr.gc.ca/cansis/publications/surveys/mb/mb21/mb21_report.pdf
SKYLIN DESJARLAIS & DESHAWN MCKAY
(As written by Kevin Germino, science teacher at Donald Ahmo School)
Skylin can be considered a Science Fair “veteran”. He is the eldest of four siblings. He is a member of the school’s drum group, the White River. He is a physically active kid who is a bit obsessed (in a good way) with how his “hair looks”. He is a responsible student and brother. He will be going to a different school for his Grade 9.
Deshawn is a very determined guy! He won’t stop until he has achieved the results he wants. During science fair mentoring, he would lock himself up in a closet and just come out when he knew all his parts! Being the eldest son, he has been responsible in helping his parents look after his other 5 younger siblings. He loves doing Parkour. He will be going to Grade 10 this coming Fall.