Published: January 29, 2018
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By: Larissa Shen, Cal Poly Pomona
Category: Agriculture & Nat'l Resources
Hashtags: #Agriculture #EnvironmentalScience #Farming #Research #Sustainability
The goal of this project was to determine if two surfactants developed to help crops grow in saline soil are effective. The surfactants are supposed to make it easier for salt to drain out of soil when plants are watered. We tested the surfactants with a control group of onions grown in saline soil without any surfactant and applied the two surfactants in different concentrations to experimental groups.
I personally was interested in this project because if the surfactants were found to work, they could help farmers grow food in places that were not available for them to use before. This is important, especially with rising sea levels flooding farmland and making the soil salty.
Our biggest challenge came from the nature of the soil itself. We used soil from California, which is largely composed of clay. Clay clumps and during the experiment it hardened so much that the surfactant at times could not even penetrate the soil.
Despite the problem we encountered, we found one of the surfactants to significantly increase yield over the control group. We sent the results of our experiment back to the company that developed the surfactants along with our recommendation.