The growth of general health of tomato plants with hydroponics

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AIM

To investigate the growth and general health of Tomato plants with hydroponics when in a deficit of either light and/or phosphorus.

INTRODUCTION

The growths of plants are highly affected by the amount of light they are exposed to. The graph below displays light intensity in relation to growth of shaded and exposed plants of Zea Mays:

Phosphorus is a critical nutrient for plant reproduction and for formation in fruits and seeds. It is also critical for the biological energy transfer process, which is vital to growth. It has been tested that a deficiency of phosphorus results in reduced plant growth, small produce of fruits and delayed maturity. The deficiency can also result in a purple colouring of younger plants.

The root system in plants is the most vital part to keep plants stable, grounded, upright and most importantly to take up the water and nutrients the plant needs to survive. There are four regions in the root system. The first is the zone of division; which is the growing and dividing meristematic cells. This zone of division is located above the second region being the root cap, which is a group of cells that sit at the tip of the root. They act as a protection for the delicate cells underneath the cap as it makes its way above ground. A substance used as a lubricant to help its movement, called Mucigel is secreted, also from the region of the root cap. The third and fourth regions are the regions of elongation and maturation, which play the role of growing, providing protection, storage and conductance. There are different sections of the roots system that include; the epidermis, the cortex and the conducting vascular tissue, which is located in the central region. The epidermis is a layer of cells on the root, located on the outer edge. It acts to absorb water, dissolve minerals and is he base to the root hairs. A large amount of the volume in young roots is the cortex, which acts as storage for substances such as starch. The vascular tissue is used as a transporter of the water through the roots and in to the stem.

There are sixteen different chemical elements that are vital for a plants growth and overall health. The non-mineral nutrients out of the sixteen chemical elements are hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and carbon (C). These non-mineral nutrients are use in the process of photosynthesis. There are thirteen mineral nutrients, which are divided into two groups; macronutrients and micronutrients. The macronutrients consist of; nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), those being the primary nutrients. The secondary nutrients are calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulphur (S). The micronutrients, are boron (B), copper (Cu), iron(Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), 

Molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn).

Photosynthesis is the process in which the plant makes its own food. The plant converts sunlight into sugar and energy by using carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to produce glucose, oxygen and water.

From the Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labor), Hydroponics came about. Hydroponics was created as function to grow plants using mineral solutions not with soil, but with water. It was first made to grow terrestrial plants in mineral solutions. It was discovered that the plants absorbed mineral nutrients from inorganic ions in the water. Researchers proved that the plants found it easier to absorb the minerals through direct water rather than in soil, resulting in faster growth and consistent health.

Nutrient deficiencies affect a plants health and growth highly, from such nutrients deficiencies like; phosphorus, calcium or even light. When a plant has a deficit, the most likely change in appearance is the plants discolouration and/or distortion. Other effects are stunted growth and a scorched or wilting appearance. For example, if a plant had a calcium deficit the results would be of the plant showing signs of distortion, the growing tips may seem dead and fruits may be slightly rotted.

The nutrient deficiencies that will be undertaken will be introduced to eight tomato plants.

1. Normal

2. Normal

3. Normal/Light Deficient

4. Normal/Light Deficient

5. Phosphorus Deficient

6. Phosphorus Deficient

7. Phosphorus Deficient/Light Deficient

8. Phosphorus Deficient/Light Deficient

Each of these plants will be tested and measured to prove the reactions and results of nutrient deficiencies.

HYPOTHESIS

It was hypothesized that the deficiency of light and phosphorus, together and separately will decrease the growth and general health of the tomato plants, due to plant lacking in vital nutrients to successfully grow and develop.

APPARATUS

8 Tomato Plants

4 Boxes to protect plants from sunlight

Ruler

Graph Paper

Pumps

Tubes

Runs

Water

Nutrient Solutions

Greenhouse

PROCEDURE

The hydroponics were set up in the order of the picture to follow.

8 Tomato plants were chosen and organised as 4 normal and 4 phosphorus deficient.

Each of the 4 white boxes were punctured to make air holes and were placed over 2 normal and 2 phosphorus defiant plants.

The plants height were measured from base to top with the ruler.

The plants width was measured using the ruler.

The amounts of leaves were kept count of.

The changing colours of the leaves were kept on watchful eye.

The leaves surface area was recorded and measured by a transparent sheet of graph paper placed over the top and each square that was more than 50% covered was recorded.

Steps 4-8 were repeated each day (excluding weekends) and at the same time of day.

Hydroponics Plant Location

Normal

Phosphorus Deficient

Normal

Phosphorus Deficient

Normal/Light Deficient

Normal/Light Deficient

Phosphorus Deficient/Light Deficient

Phosphorus Deficient/Light Deficient

http://science.jrank.org/pages/5924/Root-System.html

http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/BotanicalSciences/PlantHormones/EssentialPlant/EssentialPlant.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics

http://gardening.about.com/od/gardenproblems/a/NutrientDeficie.htm

http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/reprint/19/1/117.pdf

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