SCI 207 Week 2 Lab Report

Lab 2

SCI 207: Our Dependence Upon the Environment

Lab 2


1.The most important things to know about soil properties is what plants need to grow and how best to develop the soil to make it more fertile and keep it that way. Testing the soil you plan on using to grow plants will help you better understand what steps you should take to help improve your soil. By understanding what your soil needs you will be able to use environmentally sustainable techniques to maintain your soils needs. “A well aggregated soil is good for plant growth because the wider range of pores provides better drainage, aeration and water storage and places for roots to grow” (Importance of soil physical properties, n.d., para. 9) Understanding all of this will help significantly with your soils health.

2. The main purpose of this lab was to learn how to test soil in order to determine how many nutrients were in the soil.

3. Activity 1 hypotheses, Soil Sample A will be 30% silt, 50% sand, and 20% clay, Activity 2 hypotheses, I think the Sand will been the most porous. Soil Sample A will be second most. And the clay will be the least porous. The sand will allow the most air and water thru. I believe that Soil Sample A has a larger amount of Silt and Sand in it so that will be second most. The clap does not let much water or air thru and from my reading it seems like it will be the least porous. Activity 3 hypotheses, I think that Soil Sample A will have the higher PH level cause of the regular water it receives in addition to the bug and plant life being diverse. Soil sample B came from an open field at the park where not much is growing or stimulating the soil so I think it will have a lower PH level. Activity 4 hypotheses, I believe soil sample A will have a higher nutrient level because I got that sample from my flower beds. Soil sample B will have a lower nutrient level because I pulled it from my local park where not much has been done to the soil.

Materials and Methods

4. Activity 1 I used 3 test tubes to find out the make up of the soil I had collected from my yard labeled as Sample All tubes were filled halfway with material then filled to 1 cm from the top with tap water and 1 drop of liquid soap added then each tube was shaken for 30 sec before sitting for 24 hours. The tubes were filled one with sand, one with clay, and one with soil from sample a. After 24 hours I used the sand and clay as controls to compare to sample A so I could determine the soil texture.

Activity 2 During activity two I used 3 open ended tubes with cheese cloth held on by rubber bands to one end. The tubes were then filled with 4cm of either sand, clay, or soil from sample A. I took 10 cm of water and started to pour water into the tube containing the one of the samples, at the same time I started a timer and waited till the water made its way thru the medium and formed a drop and stopped the time. This was to test the porosities of each of the samples.

Activity 3 Using 2 soil samples both A and B I used the Rapitest Soil Tester Kit to test and compare the pH levels of the samples. Using the pH test tube provided from the kit I filled the tube to the first line with a sample then filled the tube to the 4th line with distilled water. I then used the capsule provided to put into the sample, put the cap back on the tube and shook for 20 seconds. I left the sample sit for 1 minute then compared the new color to the provided chart to determine the pH level of the soil. I then repeated this process for Soil Sample B.

Activity 4 Taking two test tubes measure 2cm up from the bottom and mark a line then fill to the line with soil from sample A, then fill with tap water to 1 cm below the top. Using a gloved hand cover and shake the tube for mixing for 1 minute, then let sit for 24 hours. Repeat for second tube using sample B. After 24 hours use the Rapitest Soil Tester Kit to test the soil. Using a pipet take water from Sample A and fill the 3 provided vials with water to the 4th line. Each vial contained a blue, orange, and purple capsule I broke those open and put the contents in one of each of the vials containing the water, capped the vial then shook for 20 seconds then let sit for 10 minutes to develop color. After the 10 minutes I compared the color of each vial to the chart provided by the soil test kit. Repeat this test for Sample B.


Observations/Data Tables

Data Table 1. Particle Size Distribution and Soil Type

  Depth of Clay Layer (cm) Depth of Silt Layer (cm) Depth of Sand Layer (cm) Total Depth (cm) %Clay %Silt %Sand Soil Texture
Soil Sample A 0cm 1cm 3.5cm 4.5cm 0% 22% 78% Loamy Sand

Data Table 2. Determination of Soil Porosity

  Time Taken for First Drop to Emerge from Column (s)
Sand Sample 7 sec
Clay Sample 5 min 40 sec
Soil Sample A 59 sec

Data Table 3. pH Comparison of Soil Samples

  Soil Sample A Soil Sample B(Location Description: Local Park)
pH 7.0 Neutral 6.0 Acid

Data Table 4. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash Comparison in Soil Samples

  Nitrogen Phosphorus Potash
Soil Sample A High High High
Soil Sample B Low High High

Activity 1.

Activity 3.

Soil Sample ASoil Sample B

Activity 4.

Soil Sample A

Soil Sample B


5. I discredited my hypotheses for activity 1 because after testing the soil my assumptions were inaccurate. For activity 2 I have accepted my hypotheses that the sand would be the most porous. After testing I determined that sand was by far the most porous. Activity 3 I have accepted my hypotheses as well based off my testing of the samples. Activity 4 I accepted my hypotheses as well because the soil from sample A tested with higher nutrient level.

6. I have learned quite a bit from this lab to include, soil testing, soil properties, and what soil is the most porous. I have also learned how important the quality of the soil is to the growing of quality products. “Soil, as a plant-growing medium, is the key resource in crop production. Soil supports the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological processes that take place in order for plants to grow” (Bensel-Turk 2014, pg. 3.2). This was all further reinforced by during this lab and learning how to test soil in different ways.

7.For the most part again the largest challenge for me is time. I have an incredibly busy schedule and it can be very difficult to set aside enough time to complete the lab and do a through report.

8. I would need to know how to test large portions of land so I can have the best information possible to determine if the farm would produce well. I would also need to know what types of crops had been grown over the last several years to give me a better idea on the current state of the soil and its history. Knowing what the plan is for crop rotation and how they plan on fertilizing the crops would also help me give a good answer on if the farm will be productive.


9.Cornell University. (n.d.) Importance of soil physical properties. Retrieved from

Bensel, T. and Turk, J. (2014). Contemporary Environmental Issues. (2nd Ed). Retrieved from

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