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Factors Influencing Plant Growth

Abstract

The main purpose of this assignment was to determine how resources such as space, water, light, nutrients, and temperature affect the growth of plants. To get the best results, the physical characteristics including height, the number of leaves, leaf color and the germination rate of the particular plants was observed. The variation in resources resulted in different growth patterns. While the germination of some plants may not be hindered by the variables, some of their physical characteristics are significantly affected. The most affected features include the height and number of leaves. This may be attributed to the fact that amount of nutrients, space, and water, determine the size of the plant. The results also demonstrate that plants respond differently to a set of conditions mainly based on the individual requirements.

 

Introduction

Plants require a certain set of conditions for them to grow well (Steduto et al., 2013). These set of conditions may vary from one place to another in turn affecting the growth pattern of a plant. They mainly include moisture, light, nutrients, temperature and space (Kaiser, 2014). These resources may be found in the soil within which they grow or from the atmosphere. An adequate supply of these resources promotes the growth of strong and healthy plants (Curry, 2011). On the other hand, inadequacy of any of them may lead to weak and emaciated plants. This is manifested through stunted growth, deformity, discoloration, distress or even death.

Moisture is an essential element in the germination and growth of plants (Creswell, Clark, & Vicki Plano-Clark John W Creswell, 2011). It is important for the absorption and transportation of nutrients within the plant system. Together with temperature, they determine the growth pattern of a plant from germination to maturity (Kent & Evers, 2012). Nutrients are also a major component of plant growth. Plants can absorb them from the soil, water, and air through their roots and leaves. There exist different nutrients, which are broadly categorized as macro and micro nutrients (Jacobs, 2011). Light is naturally derived from the sun and is mainly used in photosynthesis.

Interspecies competition is also an important factor that affect plant growth. Plant of the same species compete for limited resources such as moisture, nutrients, air and light. Those plants who will not be able to compete for the resources will end up having a slow growth.

All these resources occur naturally but may vary in abundance and distribution from one different location to another (Gregory, 2014). Some areas may thus support the growth of certain plant types, while others may only support growth to a certain level. Therefore, they can be artificially introduced to support optimal growth.

To understand this, control experiments can be undertaken to demonstrate how the availability of these resources influences the growth of plants. Plants are placed in various conditions, where the resources are different. Each of the resources is hence referred to as variables as they can purposely be changed, to suit the needs of the experiment. In some instances, the research aims at determining how one variable (independent variable) affects another (dependent variable).

Amundsen et al. (2007) argues that in ecological settings, similar plant species rigorously compete for food and other nutrients leading to varied growth rates depending on which one accesses more food. The competition for food by plants of similar species is called intra-specific competition and due to limited food endowments with similar requirements, the competition intensifies leading to the death or stunted growth of others as the strong ones flourish (Amundsen et al., 2007).

The main food components fought for by plants in intra-specific competitions include, food, air, nutrients, moisture and light. In inter-specific ecological competition, Krebs (2002) notes that plants of different species compete for universal germination requirements that include light, moisture, and air. In both intra-specific and inter-specific competitions, the resources for growth are limited and plants have to always fight for their survival. The struggle for growth resources grows in intensity in circumstances of serious limitations and this consequently leads to stunted growth, variation in plant sizes and even death for those that fail to whether the competition. Intra-specific competition is the most intense form of competition as plants literally fight over all growth requirements.

Purpose of the Experiment

Radish, a root crop, and Beans, a leguminous plant, were used in the experiment. A varied number of them were planted in pots and subjected to different treatments. They were continuously provided with the variables until germination. Their observable physical characteristics were recorded.

The overall aim of this assignment was to determine how resources, namely, space, water, light, nutrients, and temperature affect the growth of plants. This was done by observing the physical characteristics including height, the number of leaves, leaf color and the germination rate of the particular plants.

Furthermore, in this experiment, the radish roots from three different jars depict some interesting observational differences which can be attributed to the different factors that affect germination and growth of plants (Miller, Donahue, & Miller, 2010). The weights, lengths, and widths of the three experimental plants vary considerably despite them being in the same environmental setting. According to Jay (2010), the main factors responsible for such variations are amount of lighting, quality of air and moisture content to which the plants are exposed to

Materials and Methods

Materials used in this experiment include pots, jars, source of water, light, and nutrients. There were two treatments.  In the first treatment, one bean plant and three radish plants were planted in three pots. The second treatment involved planting three beans and three radishes in each of the three jars. All this was done with the aim of finding the factors that affect germination of plants. The experiment was conducted very keenly to make sure that resources were placed at the right place so that accurate results would be obtained.

Results and Discussion

The recorded results were tabulated in an Excel sheet for generation of graphs. In the first treatment, one bean plant and three radish plants were planted in three pots. In the first pot, the bean plant germinated while only one of the three radish plants did. In the second and third pots, two radish plants germinated. This represented 67%germination rate when compared to 33% in the first pot. All the bean plants in the three pots sprouted representing 100% germination rate.

Interestingly, the bean plants grew to different heights of 145mm, 114mm and 104mm while the number of leaves was the same at 5. The color of the leaves recorded in the 2nd and 3rd containers was the same while the first one recorded a different color. The radish plants were, short recording an average height of 40mm, 81mm, and 68mm from the three pots respectively. The plants also recorded different leaf colors and average leaf numbers in the three pots.

The second treatment involved planting three beans and three radishes in each of the three jars. The bean plants once again recorded 100%germination. The heights of the individual plants varied recording averages of 113mm, 121mm and 108mm respectively. Three plants in the second pot had different colors while the 1st and 3rd jars were the same. Most of the individual plants had five leaves giving an average of 5,9 and seven leaves. The radish plants averaged a height of 173mm, 68mm and 66mm in the three pots respectively. The plants had an average of fewer than two leaves. Only the second pot had a 100% germination rate. All plants recorded the same leaf color.

Evidently, the variation in resources results in different growth patterns. While the germination of some plants may not be hindered by the variables, some of their physical characteristics are significantly affected (Miller, Donahue, & Miller, 2010). The most affected features include the height and number of leaves. This may be attributed to the fact that amount of nutrients, space, and water, determine the size of the plant (Jay, 2010). They are major contributors in the food-making processes. On the other hand, the amount of light the plant is exposed to determines the leaf color (Scialabba & Hattam, 2014). The results also demonstrate that plants respond differently to a set of conditions mainly based on the individual requirements.

Since the plants are similar species, the intensely compete for proper lighting and quality of air, resulting to observable characteristics. The difference in leaf weights is an illustration of the different shared resource uptakes by the plants (Scialabba&Hattam, 2014).  The radish low root weighs 3.1 grams; radish medium root weighs 4.3 grams while the radish high root weighs 2.9 grams due to the differences in nutrient uptakes in their respective environmental and physical settings. On the side of length, the radish low root has a length of 190 mm; radish medium root has a length of 212.6 mm while the radish high root measures 182.4 mm.

The competition for growth factors like light is the most probable cause of the various in this inter-specific experiment (Jacobs, 2011). An analysis of the diameter of the experiment plant indicates that the radish low root measures 9.8 mm; the radish medium root 9.4 mm while the radish high root measures 7.1 mm. factors such as moisture and nutrient level in their respective physical settings are considered integral to the variations in diameter (Miller, Donahue, & Miller, 2010). Due to the variations in resource uptake, the pants have varied leaf weights with the radish low weight measuring 53.6 grams, radish medium weighing 63.1 while the radish high measures 42.6 grams.

Through this experiment, it is evident that variations in germination conditions and resource endowments affect the rate of plant germination and growth. Plants compete for nutrients and other resources in both intra-specific and inter-specific competitions. Through the inter-specific competition in this experiment, we are able to note the variations in plant growth due to varying access to suitable growth conditions.

 

References

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