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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Down and Dirty Experiment 3
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Seeds and Soil
Experiment 3


Does soil type affect seed germination and sprouting?



3 cups, nail, loam(potting soil), sandy soil, clayey soil, radish or bean seeds, 3 plastic bags

  Procedures:1. Using the nail poke 4 holes in the bottom of each cup. 

2. Label one cup loam, one cup sand, and one cup clay. Fill each cup with the appropriate soil.


3. If you are using radish seeds spread out 4 seeds on top of the soil and cover with a thin layer of dirt.

If you are planting beans, make 4 holes 1/2" deep, place one seed in each hole and cover with soil. Repeat this process for all 3 cups.

4. Water each cup with 1/4 cup of water and place in a plastic bag. 

image of experiment setup with clay and sand cups filled

image of experiment setup with bags over clay and sand. Shoot has appeared on loam sample and bag is being removed.

5. Place the cups in a warm dark place.

6. As soon as shoots appear, take the plastic bags off the cups and move them into the light. Water every other day.

7. One week after the first sprout appeared, measure and record the length of the tallest sprout. Repeat this procedure one week later. 

8. Make bar graphs to show the size differences of the plants at the end of each week.

image of a flashing light bulbThink About This:

1. In which soil did the seeds sprout first? 

2. Is soil type important to gardening or farming?

3. If you were a farmer and your land had poor soil, what could you do to solve this problem?


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Last Modified: 12/29/2016
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