The Effects of Biochar and Algae Extract on the Growth of Basil Plants

By: HayMann H. and Kim N.
Year: 2022
School: Westminster High
Grade: 11
Science Teacher: Huy Pham

As technology advances, people see a rise in animal supplements for additional nutrition. However, the overuse of these substances often results in runoffs from animal manure that reverse the effect of growth boost and pollute other environmental aspects. This experiment aims to analyze the effects of two animal supplements—biochar and blue-green algae extract powder—on basil plants.

There were four concentrations of each supplement, with 8 cups per concentration, alongside 8 control cups, totaling 72 cups. Overall growth was observed to denote how much the supplements hindered growth, and data gathered supports the hypothesis. However, the results may have been affected by confounding variables and inconsistencies within the experiment.

Problem Statement: What effects would biochar and blue-green algae extract runoff have on basil growth?

A study conducted by researcher Ka Ya Man documented that biochar “improved growth performance,” and “ability to resist pathogens […][in] animals,” while blue-green algae extract contains useful vitamins that are beneficial to use in animal feed as shown through a study by Marta Madeira. We hypothesize that biochar and algae extract powder will limit the growth of basil plants as plants can only absorb certain amounts of nutrients. The remaining excess will cause a weak root system from sudden growth, causing the plants to be fragile since the root will not be able to supply enough water or absorb nutrients to strengthen the plants.

From the data analysis, our hypothesis was supported because most plants show hindered growth compared to control plants. Due to changes in the variables (soil composition and water amount) between trial periods, data from trial period 1 contained more significant differences in P-values than trial period 2, meaning that there was a significant difference between the control and cups with supplements, however, the results from most plants support our hypothesis that added biochar and algae-extract supplements will create a weak root system, leading them to have stunted overall growth. Our results suggest that excess runoff in agriculture most likely prevents maximum growth. Regardless, inconsistencies and other confounding variables also played a role in the results.