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Intercropping Pac Choi With Lettuce and Swiss Chard With Basil, Lab Report Example

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Words: 882

Lab Report

Introduction

Intercropping is defined as the practice of growing two or more crops closely in order to maximize the crop yield on a single plot of land (Ouma&Jeruto 1098). To do so successfully, it is essential to carefully consider the nutritional and environmental needs of each plant to ensure that they will not compete with one another during growth (Trenbath 129). Brasicarapa(pac choi), Lactuca sativa (lettuce), Beta vulgaris (Swiss chard), and Ocimumbasilicum (basil) are commonly consumed crops and farmers would benefit from determining whether they can be grown together. When planting these crops, it is essential to consider that they are temperature sensitive. Both pac choi and lettuce are cool season crops, but pac choi can fare reasonably well in the cold. Meanwhile, basil is sensitive to frost and both basil and Swiss chard only grow well in warm weather. Intercropping may allow farmers and gardeners to take advantage of the temperature resistant properties of these plants. Since basil is sensitive to frost, it is possible that if it is grown with Swiss chard, the cold will not impact it as much. Likewise, it is possible that if cold resistant pac choi is planted with lettuce, lettuce will be able to grow well for a longer period of time.

The main objectives of this study were to determine whether intercropping pac choi with lettuce and Swiss chard with basal would confer weather resistant benefits to either crop and to determine whether this intercropping would prolong season availability of the crops. It is hypothesized that interplanting may provide some cold protection to the warm season crop. Research has shown that interplanting to provide cold protection to warm season crops is a valuable method (Natural Resources and Environment Department 17). However, it is uncertain whether intercropping of pac choi with lettuce and Swiss chard with basil will confer these benefits. Therefore, to fill this gap in knowledge, it is necessary to test this concept using the scientific method.

Materials and Methods

Brasicarapavar chinensis (pac choi), Lactuca sativa (lettuce), Beta vulgarissubsp. cicla(Swiss chard), and Ocimumbasilicum (basil) were used in this experiment. Pac choi seedlings were transplanted 12 inches apart from lettuce seedlings and Swiss chard seedlings were transplanted 12 inches apart from basil seedlings. Each lab planted a different treatment configuration, ranging from six pac choi seedlings and no lettuce seedlings to no pac choi seedlings and six lettuce seedlings. In each treatment configuration, a total of 100 plants were used. Seven weeks after transplanting, all plants were cut off at the soil line and measured. Next, land equivalent ratios (LER) were calculated for all plants and compared for pac choi and lettuce. In addition, this comparison was made for Swiss chard and basil. The experimental controls were the growth of each plant type without intercropping. The LER ratios were compared to control LER ratios as a basis of comparison.Only fresh weight data was recorded for the pac choi with lettuce intercrop experiment and only qualitative observations were recorded for the Swiss chard with basil intercrop experiment. In the future, computational software will be used to provide processed data concerning the two intercrop experiments. This data will demonstrate whether this intercropping actually provides benefit to the specific plants examined in this experiment.

Results

Table 1 Monocrop growth

  Average Weight +/- Standard Deviation
Pac choi 0.45 +/- 0.2
Lettuce 0.1 +/- 0.04

Table 1 lists the average weight and standard deviation of pac choi and lettuce when grown without intercropping. It indicates that when pac choi and lettuce are planted alone, the lettuce will naturally grow to be larger.

Table 2 Intercrop growth

Pac Choi/Lettuce Ratio Average Weight +/- Standard Deviation of Pac Choi Average Weight +/- Standard Deviation of Lettuce
4:2 0.57 +/- 0.2 0.09 +/- 0.05
3:3 0.65 +/- 0.33 0.15 +/-0.05
2:4 0.72 +/- 0.3 0.09 +/- 0.04

Table 2 describes the growth of both pac choi and lettuce when they are grown closely together. These observations indicate that the pac choi grows better than the lettuce. Compared to table 1, which shows the growth of pac choi alone, the intercropped pac choi grew more efficiently. However, the lettuce did not have a growing advantage because there was no statistically significant difference between the lettuce grown alone and the intercropped lettuce.

Discussion

Since the pac choi showed a growth advantage in the experimental treatment compared to the control and this did not occur with the lettuce, we can conclude that intercropping pac choi with lettuce is only beneficial for the pac choi. However, it is essential to consider the variables that contribute to this relationship. These plants were grown during spring weather, and it is possible that this trend would be different during a different season. For example, lettuce is more likely to grow more efficiently due to the benefits of pac choi in colder weather due to its cold resistant properties. It may also be useful to repeat this experiment using different ratios of crop growth in order to better understand this relationship.

Works Cited

Ouma G &Jeruto P. “Sustainable horticultural crop production through intercropping: The case of fruits and vegetable crops: A review”. Agriculture and Biology Journal of North       America 2010: 1098–1105. Print.

Natural Resources and Environment Department. “Frost Protection: Fundamentals, practice, and          economics”. 2005. Web. 14 April 2014. <ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/008/y7223e/y7223e00.pdf>

Trenbath BR. “Plant interactions in mixed cropping communities”. Multiple Cropping 1976: 129-169. Print.

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