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The purpose of this coursework was to investigate the impact visitors have had on the growth of sorrel on Pillow Mound in Epping Forest and to find out whether soil compression has an effect on the height of the plant sorrel.

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Investigation of Sorrel in Epping Forest by George Harrison Aim: The purpose of this coursework was to investigate the impact visitors have had on the growth of sorrel on Pillow Mound in Epping Forest and to find out whether soil compression has an effect on the height of the plant sorrel. Hypothesis: There will be a significant difference in the height of sorrel if soil compaction is great. The greater the soil compaction is, the more it restricts sorrel growth. Null Hypothesis: There is no significant correlation between soil compaction and the height of the sorrel plant, any correlation established is due to chance. Scientific knowledge: The soil has fewer spaces that contain air and water needed for plant growth, is less permeable, can store less soil water and is harder for roots to penetrate. In their virgin state, soils can be productive and characterised by excellent physical condition. They allow rapid movement of air and water through the soil, providing an ideal environment for maximum root growth. However, soils are fragile and easily restructured, especially during cropping. Compaction is an example of this restructuring. If compacted badly enough, a soil does not provide adequate space for root growth and soil animal activity, or allow for rapid movement of air and water. In severe cases, roots are unable to penetrate into deeper soil layers, tending to grow along the top of the pan. The best way for water and air to move through the soil is in large pores created by decaying plant roots or soil insects and earthworms this creates a humus layer on the top of the soil which has many nutrients the sorrel can take up. The eventual death and decay of these organisms adds to the humus layer making the soil more favourable to sorrel plant roots allowing the plant to grow and flower. Water plays a major role in plant growth. ...read more.


Tape measure Used to create line transect. Line transect 28m long. 28m length chosen as after the 28m there is no change in variation of sorrel height, therefore anything more than a line transect of over 28m is irrelevant Soil Thermometer Used to measure soil temperature (�C) Easy and quick. A mercury thermometer effectively. An electronic instrument could be more reliable as human error won't come into it in reading the results 30 cm ruler Used to measure sorrel height Easy and simple to measure plant height 1m ruler Used every 3m to go at a 90� angle across every 3m to find the closest sorrel plant to the line transect 30cm in some cases not long enough, however 1m long ruler the right size Method: 1. Create a line transect, open up tape measure up to 28m. 2. Place tape measure flat along the ground vertically. Stretch tape measure to cover 28m in straight line along site that we are investigating. 3. Take data readings for soil temperature, light intensity, soil compression and sorrel height at 1m, 4m, 7m, 10m, 13m, 16m, 19m, 22m, 25m, and 28m. 4. Soil compaction measurements taken using a penetrometer which measures the force needed to push the spike into the ground. My readings were taken 1cm at a 90� angle at each interval to the left of the line transect. The scale was set to 0 by moving the ring to the handle, the spike was then pushed vertically into the ground until the indention is level with the surface of the soil. The handle was released and then the results were read off the scale on the side of the penetrometer. 5. The soil thermometer was placed at a 90� angle 2 cm away to the left of the line transect at every interval. 6. Along the line transect at each interval a metre long ruler is placed across the line transect at a 90� angle this way I can work out which sorrel plant is closest to the line transect. ...read more.


A longitudinal study is ideal so we can collect data over the year and see how sorrel height varies. To increase data reliability we could collect data for soil compaction and sorrel height every 3 months at the same 4 subdivisions and see if there is any significant correlation. The weather would also have an effect on sorrel height; if it rains soil will be more compact and soil infiltration would not occur as rapidly. This in turn could affect seed germination as roots cannot penetrate lower soil layers. I expect plant height to be higher in the spring as spring provides optimum temperatures for seed germination, aswell as the fact that it doesn't rain as much during spring as it does winter, so soil will not become drenched allowing the roots to penetrate the soil greater and greater foundations allows a better uptake of minerals and greater sorrel growth. The most helpful modification would be to carry out this investigation on a different site within Epping Forest; this could show a clear contrast to how sorrel height varies with soil compaction. The data gathered in this study could only be relevant for Pillow Mound, so broadening our study to more than 1 site could further enhance data validity and reliability. Further investigations possibly using 2 paths at each subdivision could further validate data. As a pH probe was not available at the field centre, to measure pH of the soil we had to add a spatula full of barium sulphate as well as 1cm� of distilled water to 1 cm� of each soil sample in separate test tubes. The amount of barium sulphate added or the amount of soil sample added to each test tube would affect pH and so our pH values could vary due to human error and the variable wasn't of constant of using the same formula each time. A pH probe would eliminate human error and the same procedure could have been kept throughout and been kept constant. ...read more.

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