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The Effect of Intercropping Pac Choi, Lab Report Example

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Lab Report

The Effect of Intercropping Pac Choi with Lettuce and Swiss Chard with Basil on Plant Growth

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). Brasica rapa (pac choi), Lactuca sativa (lettuce), Beta vulgaris (Swiss chard), and Ocimum basilicum (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

Brasica rapa var chinensis (pac choi), Lactuca sativa (lettuce), Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla (Swiss chard), and Ocimum basilicum (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.

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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