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Republic of the Philippines

Department of Education
National Capital Region
Division of City School
Division of Quezon City

Chemical nutrient analysis of Vermicompost and Garden Soil


and their Effect on the Growth of a Vegetative Crop, Phaseolus vulgaris

A Science Investigatory Project


As entry to the District Science Fair SY 2018 – 2019

LAWRENCE MENORCA
P. Bernardo High School
District IV, Quezon City, NCR
Project Proponent

ARMIDA B. NATIVIDAD
Project Adviser

September 14, 2018


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The proponent of this study wishes to convey his gratitude and appreciation to the
following persons:

Mrs. Adora B. Teaño, Principal, for her encouragement and support;

Ms. Armida B. Natividad, his research adviser, recommendations, suggestions,


insights, constructive criticisms , and untiring efforts to motivate to help and guide the
proponent;

His family for their support and understanding to the work and extra time spent
by the proponent on the study;

His classmates at Grade 8 – Mangga, and his friends, for their belief in his ability
as a student researcher;

And lastly, to the Lord, for all the wisdom and blessings showered on the
proponent during the conduct of this project.
ABSTRACT

The unsuitability of the dry, sandy, and rocky lot provided by the school
administration for the establishment of the Gulayan sa Paaralan led to various techniques
and methods to ensure success in growing crops. Using garden soil as alternative
substrate, and vermicomposting were steps employed to sustain growth of plants in the
garden. Several problems were encountered in spite of the use of these methods. The
study was conducted to better understand how these substrates affect the growth of the
crops, and how to solve the problems using the chemical analysis of the nutrients in each
medium.
Samples of vermicast excreted by African Night Crawler (Eudrilus eugineae) in
the vermicompost pits located at the school garden, and the garden soil regularly
purchased from a supplier, were brought to the Philippines Coconut Authority Laboratory
Division for analysis. Baguio beans, or Phaseolus vulgaris, was chosen as crop for the
study because of its ability to germinate and grow in a short period of time. Nine pots
were prepared. Three pots for each type of substrate: vermicompost, garden soil, and
mixture of vermicompost and gardent soil. The number of leaves, height of the plant, and
roots were measured in the 3-week study.
The data explained why growth is slow, and mortality rate is high when garden
soil is used. Likewise, the study elucidated the effectiveness of the vermicompost as a
natural fertilizer. Surprisingly, the results showed that the mixture of vermicompost and
garden soil may even be better than applying pure vermicompost in growing crops.
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

The lot chosen to be the site of the Gulayan sa Paaralan or vegetable garden High
in P. Bernardo High School has proven to be unsuitable for the program as evidenced by
the failure to grow crops in the area in the previous years. Construction debris and heaps
of rocks were filled over the vacant lot of the school building to prevent flooding in the
classroom during the rainy season. Canopy of big trees also prevent the entry of sunlight
in the site. In spite of these disadvantageous characteristics, the 150 sq. m. area is too big
to be wasted. Appropriate methods and strategies should be used to ensure that vegetables
will grow in this large space. The most effective of these methods is using the vermicast
excreted by worms through the vermicomposting project.

Vermicomposting is a low cost technology system that is used to convert organic


wastes into nutrient-rich soil with the help of earthworms (Arancon et al., 2004).
Earthworms are voracious feeders that can ingest almost all kinds of organic residues in
the compost bin, and can consume wastes that are equal to their body’s weight. The
organic residues that pass through the earthworm gut are acted on by digestive enzymes,
microorganisms, and other fermenting chemicals that break down the residues further.
Finally, bacteria in the gut convert them into the final product, the vermicast (Domingues
and Edwards 2004). These excreta are rich in nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium
and magnesium (Misra et al., 2003). These nutrients aid in growing crops, the reason
why Charles Darwin called the earthworms, the “farmer’s friend” in his study.

Garden soil are the cheap substrates that were used in growing vegetable crops in
this school in the past. They are sold cheap as these are easily collected from riverbanks.
The first attempt to grow crops in the area utilized garden soil. Growth of crops is slow,
and mortality rate is high.

The present study aims to analyze and compare the chemical nutrients between
the vermicompost and the common garden soil, and their effect on the growth of a
vegetative crop Baguio beans , Phaseolus vulgaris.
Statement of the Problem

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of vermicompost,


garden soil , and vermicompost-garden soil mixture.

Specifically, the study sought to answer the following

1. What is the amount of the nutrients found in each substrate?


2. How does this nutrient content affect the growth of plants?

Questions posed above are translated into the following hypotheses:

1. Vermicompost , known for its rich nutrient content is the best substrate for the plants.
2. The higher the nutrient content, the better for the growth of the crops. To compare
the effect of these 2 types of soil on the growth of a vegetable crop;

Scope and Limitation

This study is limited to the analysis of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, organic


matter and carbon content, electro conductivity, pH and moisture content. Financial
constraint prevented the analysis of other important nutrients like calcium and
magnesium.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

AFRICAN NIGHT CRAWLERS

Eudrilus eugeniae ,or the African Night Crawlers, is a tropical West African species
originating in savannah soils that thrives on organically rich substrates (Blakemore,
2015). It has spread worldwide, and was brought to the Philippines by Dr. Rafael
Guerrero III (Guerrero et al, 1984). It is a voracious detritus feeder that that has the
ability to ingest rotting materials and exCrete them with enhanced protein, microbial, and
enzyme content- the reason why it is viewed as the most efficient composting
earthworms in the tropics (Guerrero, 2009). Its maturity period which only takes 47 days,
is ideal for the need to mass production.

Perfect for its tolerance to high temperature in the country, the African Night Crawlers IS
the earthworm that is used in the vermicompost pit in P. Bernardo High School.

VERMICOMPOSTING

Vermicomposting is the process that uses earthworms for composting organic residues.
Earthworms can consume practically all kinds of organic matter and excrete them with
higher nutrient content. They decompose and condition the substrate and change its
biological activity. (Olle, 2016)

GARDEN SOIL are topsoil dug up from to 2 feet deep. They are screened and filtered to
separated bigger debris and rocks, and are packed in bulk. The composition depends on
where the topsoil was obtained . It may contain sand, silt, clay or materials that are local
to the region. Even after processing, garden soils are usually deficient in nutrients. Most
garden supplier would add organic materials to the soil to make it more suitable for
growing plants, such as ‘garden soil for vegetables,’ or ‘garden soil for trees.”

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/garden-soil-
information.htm
NITROGEN

Nitrogen is an essential element for all living things. It is a building block of biologic
molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. The majority of nitrogen on the planet is in
the form of molecular nitrogen in the air. Only certain bacteria can convert nitrogen into
biologic molecules that occur mainly inside living cells. Humans are interfering with the
nitrogen cycle by making nitrogen fertilizers and by oxidizing atmospheric molecular
nitrogen through (PDF) Nitrogen cycle. Available from:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281784629_Nitrogen_cycle [accessed Sep 03
2018].

Organisms need nitrogen as a component to produce proteins and nucleic acids. Plants
take up nitrogen from soil mainly as ammonium ions, nitrate, or nitrogenous organic
compounds (Markov, 2012). It is vital to the development of leaves and vegetative parts.
Leaves may turn yellow if there is insufficient nitrogen available as this will also lead to
decreased amount of chlorophyll. Less chlorophyll will yield less food for the plant.

PHOSPHORUS

Phosphorus is one of the major nutrients that is needed by the plants. Its function cannot
be performed by any other nutrient. It is essential to the optimum growth of plant. It is
absorbed through the root hair, root tips, and outer layer of the root cells . Inside the
plant, it gets incorporated to compounds through various chemical reactions. These
compounds include the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that is used during photosynthesis,
the most important chemical reaction in nature. A seedling may not be well-established if
there is a deficiency of this element.

https://www.ipni.net/ppiweb/bcrops.nsf/$webindex/ECBABED567ABDCDD852568EF0
063C9F4/$file/99-1p06.pdf [accessed Sep 03 2018].

POTASSIUM

Potassium is another important micronutrient in plants involved in many physiological


processes. It is the element needed to activate enzymes that are involved in chemical
reactions. It also helps maintain the pH of 7-8 , the optimal condition for these reactions.
Potassium regulates the closing and opening of stomata, the pores through which carbon
dioxide, oxygen, and water vapor exchange. If there is deficient K, the stomata may take
hours to close, instead of minutes. This may result to excessive release of water from the
plant and may result to plant stress. It is also involved in the production of ATP. If there
is K deficiency, energy production and rate of photosynthesis will be reduced, and other
reactions that need energy will be likewise affected, such as sugar, water, and nutrient
transport.

Protein synthesis will not take place if there is K deficiency, no matter how much
nitrogen is present in the plant. Lastly, high amount of potassium leads to the production
of better quality crops, plants with longer shelf life, and stronger disease resistance. It
also contributes to the survival of plants exposed to various biotic and abiotic stresses.
(Min, W et al. 2013)

ORGANIC CARBON AND ORGANIC MATTER

Soils are a major carbon reservoir containing more carbon than the atmosphere and
terrestrial vegetation combined. SOC is the main component of soil organic matter
(SOM). (Lefèvre FAO)

As an indicator for soil health, A high SOM content provides nutrients to plants and
improves water availability, both of which enhance soil fertility and ultimately improve
food productivity

Topsoil ranges from 0.5% to 3.0% organic C for most upland soils. Desert soil has 0.5%
organic C. Soils containing greater than 12 - 18% organic C are generally classified as
organic soils. (Jobaggy, 2000).

CARBON-NITROGEN RATIO (C:N)

All organic matter has a carbon:nitrogen ratio. The ideal C:N ratio is 24:1. But the 25-30
carbon to 1 Nitrogen ratio is accepted as a good range. Microbial activity promotes the
release of nitrogen which is vital to the growth of the plants.
Carbon is important because it is an energy-producing factor; nitrogen, because it builds
tissue. The eco-grower who applies organic matter must be conversant with the carbon-
nitrogen ratio of the different materials they handle. (Miller, 2000)

MOISTURE CONTENT

Porespaces are filled with water after rain or irrigation. Water should return to the
atmosphere through the process of transpiration. But some factors may prevent that, thus
soaking the soil in water for a long time. The porespaces cannot even accommodate air
and oxygen as it is filled with water. Being the case, the roots will rot, and may cause the
death of the plant. (Tu, 2003).

pH

Soil pH is important because a soil’s acidity or alkalinity determines what plant nutrients
are available to plant roots. Nutrients in the soil—elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus,
and potassium—become available to plants when they dissolve in water or soil moisture.
Most plant nutrients will not dissolve when the soil is either too acidic or too alkaline.

Somewhat Acid Soil Crops: The following crops prefer require a somewhat acid soil;
they can tolerate a pH of 5.5 to 6.5:

Apple (5.0-6.5)

Basil (5.5-6.5)

Carrot (5.5-7.0)

Cauliflower (5.5-7.5)

Chervil (6.0-6.7)

Corn (5.5-7.5.)

Cucumber (5.5-7.0)

Dill (5.5-6.5)

Eggplant (5.5-6.5)
Garlic (5.5-7.5)

Melon (5.5-6.5)

Parsley (5.0-7.0)

Pepper (5.5-7.0)

Pumpkin (6.0-6.5)

Radicchio (6.0-6.7)

Radish (6.0-7.0)

Rhubarb (5.5-7.0)

Sorrel (5.5-6.0)

Squash, winter (5.5-7.0)

Sweet potato (5.5-6.0)

Tomato (5.5-7.5)

Turnip (5.5-7.0)

Moderately Alkaline Soil Plants: The following crops will tolerate a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 or
greater:

Arugula (6.5-7.5)

Bean, pole (6.0-7.5)

Broccoli (6.0-7.0)

Broccoli rabe (6.5-7.5)

Cabbage (6.0-7.5)
Celery (6.0-7.0)

Chinese cabbage (6.0-7.5)

Celery (6.0-7.0)

Chinese cabbage (6.0-7.5)

Cilantro (6.0-6.7)

Gourd (6.5-7.5)

Horseradish (6.0-7.0)

Kale (6.0-7.5)

Leek (6.0-8.0)

Lettuce (6.0-7.0)

Mustard (6.0-7.5)

Okra (6.0-7.5)

Onion (6.0-7.0)

Oregano (6.0-7.0)

Radish (6.0-7.0)

Squash, summer (6.0-7.0)

Very Acid to Alkaline Soil Tolerant Plants: The following crops have the greatest
tolerance for a wide range of soil acidity or alkalinity, from about 5.0 to 7.0:

Tomato (5.5-7.5)

Turnip (5.5-7.0)

https://harvesttotable.com/vegetable-crop-soil-ph-tolerances/
ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY

Soil Electrical conductivity is a measure of its salt content. Excess salt can delay plant
growth by influencing soil-water balance. EC measurement does not differentiate
between individual nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and so on), but simply
provides the sum total of all salt content. Also, EC measurements cannot determine
whether one macro or micronutrient is being absorbed at a higher rate than another.
Measuring the EC of the saturated rooting substrate allows the grower to gauge the
nutrient needs of the plant. (Hanlon, 1993).

Soluble salts above the normal range for a prolonged period may cause root injury, leaf
chlorosis, marginal burn and sometimes wilting. When soluble salt levels are above the
normal range, growers are advised to identify the source for the high levels.

For instance, if the EC value is high in the substrate, there is no need for further
fertilization—if it is too high, then flushing with water might be necessary. Likewise, if
the reading is low, this is an indicator that the plant needs some supplementation of
nutrients. Make sure that when using an EC probe the substrate is wet as there must be a
solution for the current to travel through.

Too low will have nutrient deficiencies. Too high, the plant will burn

The electrical conductivity of water is actually a measure of salinity. Excessively high


salinity can affect plants in the following ways:

1. Specific toxicity of a particular ion (such as Sodium)

2. Higher osmotic pressure around the roots prevents an efficient water absorption
by the plant.

Some plants are more susceptible to the electrical conductivity than others and each
specie has an electrical conductivity threshold, beynod which yield is decreased.
One final consideration with EC monitoring is the relationship between salt and water
content. As the substrate dries out, the nutrient (salt) content increases—at this point, the
salt concentration might be high enough to damage the roots of the plant. Likewise, if the
substrate is constantly flushed with water, the nutrients will be removed completely.
Next, we’ll discuss the concept of watering regimes and the ideal watering temperature.
MATERIALS AND METHODS

The vegetable garden in P. Bernardo High School area is the site of the present
study. The vermicast sample was obtained from the vermicompost pits in the garden. The
garden soil was bought from a known garden supplies place located in D. Tuazon ,
Quezon City. Two kilograms of samples for each type of substrate were taken to the
Philippine Coconut Authority for laboratory analysis of the following parameters:
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Organic Carbon, Organic Matter, C:N Ratio, Moisture
content, pH, and electroconductivity. They were analyzed using the following methods:

PARAMETERS METHOD
Nitrogen UV-VIS Spectrophotometry
Phosphorus Colorimetry
Potassium Flame Photometry
Organic Carbon UV-VIS Spectrophotometry
Organic Matter By Computation
C:N Ratio By Computation
Moisture Air Oven
pH pH Meter
Electroconductivity EC Meter

The soil analysis in the laboratory was completed in two weeks.

The experiment was conducted in the vegetable garden (Gulayan sa Paaralan) of


P. Bernardo High School. For the effects of the soil used on Baguio beans, experiment
was conducted in triplicate. First , 9 pots were used. Three pots were filled with pure
vermicast. Three pots were filled with garden soil. The remaining three were filled with a
mixture of vermicast and garden soil on a 50-50 ratio. Two bean seeds were placed in
each pot at the depth of 5 centimeters. The seeds were allowed to germinate. They were
placed in the same area that receives the same amount of sunlight everyday, and were
watered regularly for 21 days.The number of leaves and the height of the plant were
measured every two days to monitor the growth.

After 3 weeks, the plants will be uprooted for the measurement of the length and weight
of the roots through its wet weight and dry weight.

Picture in the start, week 1, week 2, week 3,


week 4
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The study yielded the following facts and information.


Table 1 below shows the nutrient content of two substrates
Chemical Parameters Vermicompost Garden soil
Nitrogen (N), Total, % 4.358 .158
Phosphorus (P), Available, mg-kg - 141 47.9
1
(ppm)
Potassium (K), Exchangeable, 1.195 1.053
meq/100g
Organic Carbon (OC), Total, % 5.063 2.874
Organic Matter (OM), Total, % 8.709 4.943
C:N Ratio 1:1 18:1
Moisture content, % 33.289 9.367
pH, 1:1 H2O 6.7 5.5
Electroconductivity (EC), mmhos-cm-1 .142 0.065

Nitrogen Content

5
4
3
2
1
0
1

Vermicompost Garden soil


The graph shows that the nitrogen content of vermicompost is over four times higher
than the garden soil. Nitrogen is considered the most important nutrient in the soil
that supports plant growth. It provides the energy for food making in the plant. It is
needed in speedy shoot growth and health of flower buds. Nitrogen deficiency causes
yellowing of the leaves of the plants. This may explain why seeds sprout as early as
the third day. On the other hand, the low amount of nitrogen in garden soil may
explain why the seed planted in it germinated a week later.

Phosphorus Content

150

100

50

0
1

Series1 Series2

The graph shows that the Phosphorus content of the vermicompost is almost four
times higher than the garden soil. Phosphorus is the macronutrient that encourages
root growth and formation. It increases the ability of the plant against disease attacks.
It is also needed to harness the energy that is essential in photosynthesis. The big
difference in the weight and size of the roots of the plants is due mainly to the high
phosphorus content of the vermicast.
Potassium Content

1.2

1.15

1.1

1.05

0.95
1

Series1 Series2

The figure shows that Potassium (K) is higher in vermicompost than the garden soil.
This may explain why the plant has a healthy turgor pressure, and does not wilt
easily. Potassium helps the plant healthier by making it more resistant to drought,
diseases, and pest attacks.

Organic Content (OC)

6
5
4
3
2
1
0
1

Series1 Series2
Organic Matter (OM)

10
8
6
4
2
0
Series1 Series2
1

The organic content (OC) and organic matter (OM) of vermicompost are higher in
vermicompost than in garden soil. This fertilizes the soil and makes the growing plant
green, healthy, and lush. This contribute to the increase in leaf area and rapid stem
growth of the seedling.

C:N Ratio of Vermicompost


1.2

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0
Carbon Nitrogen
As discussed above, carbon and nitrogen are essential for plant growth and microbial
activities. The C:N ratio is a quick way to assess the balance between these two
nutrients. The ideal C:N ratio is 24: 1. That is, 24 units of carbon for every single unit
of nitrogen. In the case of vermicompost used, there is a 1:1 carbon:nitrogen ratio.
When a plant residue with a wide C:N ratio is incorporated into the soil, microbial
decomposition starts. Microorganism populations increase greatly and take the
nitrogen from the soil. This causes the inorganic nitrogen in the soil to decrease in
concentration. As residue decomposes, the C:N ratio narrows. At a ratio of
approximately 17:1, nitrogen becomes available for plant use. Decomposition
continues until the ratio is approximately 11:1 or 10:1. This is, on the average, about
50% carbon, and 5% nitrogen. This ratio is constant for organic matter.

This shows that the amount of Nitrogen in the soil is too high compared to the carbon
content. Excessive amount of nitrogen will result to thick foliage that may give a
jungle look to the growing crop but will prevent growth of other vegetative parts like
the fruits, flowers, and roots. Adding more source of carbon, like mulch, will help
solve this problem as microbial activity during decomposition takes the nitrogen from
the soil.
In the garden soil, the amount of nitrogen in the soil is too low that it would not
be enough to support plant growth. The naturally low presence of nitrogen in the soil
is coupled with a high carbon content which means that microbial activity continues
to deplete the soil of its present nitrogen. Of the three macronutrients – nitrogen,
phosphorus, and potassium – nitrogen is considered the most important component.
This low content will result in poor growth of the plant, exactly what happened to the
sample crop in the study.

Too much soil will rot the roots of the plants, and plants will not survive without
healthy roots. Too little soil moisture will prevent the movement of the nutrients to
other parts of the plant. It is therefore important that there is balance in the amount of
water in the plants particularly during the growing season.
.
For vegetables, the target soil pH should fall between 5.5 and 7.5. pH for both
substrates are still within ideal range. http://www.growinganything.com/soil-ph-for-
vegetables.html

Soil pH is the measure of the soil’s acidity or alkalinity. Soil acidity and alkalinity
is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, called the pH scale. Most plants grow between the
pH range of 4.5 to 8.0; a soil pH of 5.0 has a high acid content; a soil pH of 7.5 has a
high alkaline content; a soil pH of 7.0 is neutral. A soil pH test will determine a soil’s
pH.

pH does not really indicate soil fertility. But it influences the growth of the plant
through the bacterial activity, nutrient availability, nutrient leaching, toxicity, and soil
texture. At 5.0 pH, the nutrients leach out of the soil because of its acidity. Below 5.5
pH, bacterial activity slows down, thus, affecting the release of nitrogen that the plant
needs. Some metallic elements, like aluminum, which is toxic in excess amount, is
released when pH reaches 4.5. The optimum pH range in soil for growing crops is
5.5 – 7.5. In clay soil, a pH that is too acidic or too alkaline, becomes more sticky and
will be more difficult to cultivate.
As with most things in the soil, it is important that the EC does not get too high either,
as too many of these nutrients, especially Na and Mg, can be detrimental to soil
health. Optimal EC levels in the soil therefore range from 110-570 milliSiemens per
meter (mS/m) or .0011 - .0057 mmhos-cm-1. http://traceandsave.com/what-can-
electrical-conductivity-tell-us-about-our-soil/ Too low EC levels indicate low
available nutrients, and too high EC levels indicate an excess of nutrients.
Low EC’s are often found in sandy soils with low organic matter levels, whereas high
EC levels are usually found in soils with high clay content. The EC level of the
vermicompost is still close to the optimal level . The EC level of the garden soil is
higher which may indicate higher level nutrients higher than its N,P, and K which are
not in excess level as shown by the laboratory results. This may be caused by the
clay texture of the soil which allows them to hold more cation in excess level. Some
nutrients like Na and Mg, can be detrimental to soil health. EC of course, does not tell
how much nutrient is in the soil.
NUMBER OF LEAVES
Pictures

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3


Vermicompost Garden Vermicompost-
Soil Garden Soil
Mixture
Week 1 Average Height
(in cm)
Average Number of
Leaves
Week 2 Average Height
(in cm)
Average Number of
Leaves
Week 3 Average Height
(in cm)
Average Number of
Leaves

The number of leaves that emerge is the same for both vermicompost and vermin-
garden soil mixture. It was noticed though that the leaves surface is greater than the
plant grown in vermicompost than in the mixture.
A week delayed in the germination of seeds, the plant grown in garden soil , likewise,
showed a slower growth in the growth of other parts, like the leaves. Unfurling of
seed in the garden soil. was also observed to be slower than its two counterparts.

HEIGHT OF THE PLANT


Pictures

Soil Garden Soil


Mixture
Week 1 Average Height (in cm) 12 0 9
Week 2 Average Height (in cm) 21 6 23
Week 3 Average Height (in cm) 23 8 26

Due to the delayed emergence of the seedling, height of the stem of the plant grown
in the garden soil was affected. Its height was almost just a third of the other plants.

Height of the plant is almost just the same in the vermicompost and mixture. The
growth of the stem was rapid in the vermicompost plant in the first week, the mixture
crop showed a little slower rate in growth. But on the second week, the average stem
height in the mixture was higher than in the vermicompost plant. In the final week, a
2-cm average growth was recorded in the vermicompost plant while 3-cm growth was
observed in the vermin-garden soil mixture plant.

Roots of the Plant


Picture ditto.
129
Pelagia Research Library
Fig.15: Showing the comparative impact of Pit Compost, Vermi Compost and
Control
(Garden Soil) on the roots length of pea plants.
Fig.16: Showing the comparative impact of Pit Compost, Vermi Compost and
Control
COMPARISON OF NUTRIENT ANALYSIS IN VERMICOMPOST AND
GARDEN SOIL

The chemical analysis of the vermisoil and garden soil showed that the nutrients N, P,
K components of the vermicompost are higher than those in the garden soil.

Nitrogen mineralization is the process by which organic N is converted into plant-


available inorganic form. Only 1% - 3% of the nitrogen in the soil is mineralized for
plant use. The remaining percentage of nitrogen in the soil is in organic soil which
has to be acted on by bacteria for its conversion to inorganic form – the form that can
be consumed by the plants. The nitrogen content in the soil is an index to the
availability of the nitrogen for the plant use. The high nitrogen content of the
vermicompost accounts for the healthy leaf growth in both vermicompost, and
mixture. Although the amount of nitrogen is lower in the mixture set up, the plant
grows as healthy because of the vermicompost added in it. The high nitrogen in the
vermicompost is enough to sustain the growth in the 50-50 mixture of vermicast and
garden soil.

The vermicompost has 1.195 potassium, while the garden soil has 1.053
potassium.There is little diffence between the two. If growth is dependent on this
nutrient only, then the plant in the garden soil should have grown as fast as the plants
in the other substrates. But that is not the case as the growth of plant depends on a
number of nutrients and other factors. The garden soil plant has recorded a steady
growth a few days after germination. This may be explain by the fact that Potassium
is that nutrient that is more used in the initial growth than the nitrogen and
phosphorus
)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304246278_THE_IMPORTANCE_OF_P
OTASSIUM_IN_PLANT_GROWTH_-_A_REVIEW). In the ensuing weeks, growth
of the plant was remarkably slow. This can be explained by the deficiencies in other
nutrients.

Phosphorus is the nutrient that promotes rooting, fruiting, and flowering. The high
discrepancy between the phosphorus of the vermicompost and the garden soil (141
and 47.9 respectively), is contributory to the difference in the root growth of the
plants.

ORGANIC CARBON and ORGANIC MATTER


An ideal soil for plant growth contains 50% porespace and 50% solids, with the
porespace filled with equal parts air and water. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-
gardener-handbook/1-soils-and-plant-nutrients. This distribution seldom happens
because of soil texture and soil management. Clay has less porespace, silt has more.
Tilling gives way to more porespace while poor water supply decreases it. The soil
solids are composed of minerals and organic matter. As discussed earlier, organic
matter reffers to decomposing plants and microbial residues. The ideal distribution is
50% porespace, 45% minerals, and 5% organic matter.

The vermicompost has a rich amount of organic matter at almost 9% of the soil, the
garden soil has less but is still within the ideal amount. The decaying matter adds
fertility to the soil, increases the water capacity, and promotes nutrient availability.

Soil solids are a blend of mineral materials and organic matter. The mineral materials
are typically weathered rock of varying sizes called sand, silt, and clay. The organic
matter consists of decaying plant and microbial residues. The relative amounts of
porespace and mineral and organic matter vary greatly among different soil types. But
for plant growth, most soil scientists agree that 50% porespace, 45% mineral matter,
and 5% organic matter make up an ideal ratio (Figure 1–1a). The distribution of soils
and porespace in compacted and poorly drained soil is illustrated in Figure 1–1b and
Figure 1–1c

C:N RATIO

The 1:1 C:N ratio in the vermicompost expresses a common problem in applying
compost- a large release of nitrogen resulting in an excessive gowth of vegetative
parts at the expense of the reproductive parts. https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2906/2906-
1316/2906-1316.html. In P. Bernardo High School, this kind of problem occurs in
plants like patola and sitao. An excessive growth of large leaves results to less, and
small fruits. This continues until production of fruits stops totally.

In the garden soil, the 18:1 C:N ratio seems nearer the 24:1 ratio. But the Carbon
content is just the right amount while the nitrogen content is extremely low.

The vermicompost-garden soil mixture somehow balances the problem. The excess
nitrogen is distributed to the low-nitrogen containing garden soil, while the carbon
content is minimally decreased, but still falls within the optimal range. This explains
why the growth of the plant in pure vermicompost and mixed vermicompost/garden
soil is almost at the same rate.

SOIL MOISTURE

The moisture content of both substrates does not reach the point where it causes
rotting of the soil. The higher moisture content of the vermicompost supports
microbial activity as shown in Organic matter content. This naturally leads to other
nutrients being released resulting to the growth of a healthy crop.

pH CONTENT

The pH requirement of different plants may vary. Some crops like mildly acidic soil,
some prefer moderately alkaline. The ideal , as mentioned , is pH of 5.5 – 7.5. The
vermicompost and garden soil still offer good soil condition for the plant growth.

EC
The EC of garden soil is too low which means that there is less nutrients available.
The high EC of garden soil means there is excess nutrient in the soil. In this case, as
shown by the lab result, the excess nutrient in the vermicompost is the nitrogen.
CONCLUSION

The seeds in the garden soil were delayed in germination because of nutrient
deficiency. Extremely low amount of nitrogen and phosphorus are good indicators
that the plants in this substrate will hardly survive. If they survive, the production of
healthy fruits are not possible.

The combined high nutrient presence and high organic content in the
vermicompost accounts for the rapid growth of Phaseolus vulgaris. The excess
nitrogen can be easily corrected if monitored correctly.

The result of the study showed that mixing the vermicompost with garden soil
will still result to the optimum growth of plants. The excess nitrogen in the vermicast
is balanced by the low nitrogen content in the garden soil. This means that more
suitable substrate for the plant can be made using less vermicompost which takes 2
months to produce.

The vermicompost proves to be the best natural fertilizer for growing crops. It
does not have to be applied in its pure form. It can be mixed with another medium
with less nutrient content. P. Bernardo High School is on the right track using this
substrate to sustain its Gulayan sa Paaralan Program.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The following recommendations were made for better understanding:


1. The analysis of the following nutrients in the substrates :
Calcium, Magnesium,
2. Measurement of the leaf area
3. Analysis of another popular substrate, loam
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