For a long time now, people have known the devastating effects of soil agriculture. This can include deforestation due to excessive agriculture which increases carbon emissions causing global warming. Previous research emphasized the urgency of developing green sustainable solutions to grow food such as hydroponics and aeroponics. Tron Sherman, of Mansfield, MO, introduced the idea of using a recyclable substrate (i.e., tires) for growing plants. The objective of this study is to determine if lettuce plants will grow better and faster in recyclable substrates using hydroponics as compared to soil. Lettuce plants were selected to grow hydroponically using the Kratky method (defined below) in 7 substrates which included 6 recyclable household materials and one of soil. The best plant from each substrate was selected from height, weight, root length, and width data over the course of 7 weeks. It was found that the best performing substrates in height, weight, root length, and width was found to be cloth and the sponge. All the household recyclable substrates with exception of cushion filling were found to grow plants better than soil. Findings suggest that while Rockwool or other commercially available products are used as substrates for hydroponics, recyclable household substrates can be just as effective and better than soil while reducing cost.
Research Paper by Zain Rehman, Grade 6, Scholars at Central High School, Springfield Missouri