The Impact of Simulated Acid Rain on Sweet Corn (Zea mays) Germination

By: Ananya D.
Year: 2021
School: Fairmont Private Schools, North Tustin Campus
Grade: 7
Science Teacher: Joshua Riturban

It is a common belief that acid rain negatively impacts plants by lowering the pH of the soil and inhibiting growth, but results regarding this topic do not necessarily support this belief. There are many conflicting results on how acid rain impacts plants, specifically agricultural crops and the germination stages which are the most delicate stages of growth (Iowa State University Digital Repository 2012). There have been many studies regarding how different plants react to acid rain, but there are few that have considered corn or plants in the germination stages. The purpose of this research examines the effect of acid rain on the germination and growth of sweet corn (Zea mays).

This topic is important because corn is the most useful crop for the United States. Over 90 million acres of land are used for corn planting. Additionally, corn accounts for more than 95 percent of total feed grain production and is also used for a variety of food and other products (United States Department of Agriculture). If I find that there are negative effects on corn seed germination, farmers who grow corn could take precautionary measures to protect their crops. However, if I find that acid rain has a positive impact on corn seed germination, farmers could work to treat their crops with an acidic solution so that they could farm more efficiently.

Based on my background information, I have two hypotheses. My first hypothesis is that if a corn seed is treated with water having a pH of 4.0 or lower, then it will take significantly longer to complete germination compared to other pH levels because most plant growth is negatively affected by pH levels lower than 5.0. For the percentage of seeds that begin germination, I hypothesize that if a corn seed is treated with water having a pH of 4.0 or lower (vinegar solution), then the percentage of corn seeds that begin germination will be significantly lower than other pH levels because most plants are negatively affected in many aspects by any pH level lower than 5.0.