A Compendium of Chia Knowledge

By Marion Deal and Andrew Ellstrom

The Research and Purpose Behind the Chia

We chose to create this lab -- testing chia's resilience and response to soils of various compositions -- because chia is a valuable source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It's sustenance-giving power could be imperative to the aid of famine ridden or poverty stricken countries whose food intake is perilously low. Yet many of these countries have issues with food simply because their soil is too rocky or sandy for crops to grow. Fertile dirt could, perhaps, be brought in along with the chia seeds to facilitate growth, but quality soil costs money, and a great quantity would be needed to grow each chia plant. There is a solution, though. If good soil could be mixed with the poor-quality dan or gravel, then less of it would be necessary to grow the same plant. What, then, is the least amount of soil to sand that can be managed while still preserving the integrity of the chia seed's growth. This experiment aims to find out.

Sources: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Famine.aspx



Hypothesis and Variables

Within our experiment, our hypothesis went as follows: If we create different combinations of soil and sand, then the 1:1 ratio (50% of each substance) will be the least soil needed to achieve an acceptable growth yield because it is an even mixture of materials -- anything below that could be seriously detrimental. If one looks at the former paragraph, our purpose for the experiment, one can see that we are trying to grow our chia within countries that have low quality soil in regard to agriculture. To do so with the minimum amount/cost of high quality soil brought in, we needed to see the minimum amount of high quality soil needed to produce the plant. According to our hypothesis, 1:1 will be able to produce a plant with the least amount of beneficial material (soil).

Our Independent Variable: Ratio of soil and sand

Our Dependent Variable: Plant growth

Our Control Variables: Amount of time spent in the incubator (amount of light), amount of water, amount of soil, how many chia seeds were planted, what type of seeds were planted, the depth at which the seeds were planted.

Our Extraneous Variables: Amount of carbon dioxide each plant is able to wrest from the air, how much sugar was in each chia seed, how much nutrition were in each cup's soil, the weather and/or temperature in the room, whether the seeds were knocked down or watered mistakenly by strangers.

How We Set Up the Lab and What We Recorded

Within the lab we had set up our lab based on our procedure. We took three Dixie cups and added three ounces of a sand-and-soil mixture to each cup. Cup 1 received a mixture with the sand-to-soil ratio of 1:3, cup 2 received a sand-to-soil ratio of 1:1, while cup 3 received a ratio of 3:1. We also included a control group, with a sand-to-soil ratio of 0:1 (wholly soil.) When all the cups had been loaded with the correct mixtures and were labeled, we planted four chia seeds just beneath the surface of the soil in each cup. Every day (not including weekends) we watered each cup until the mixture of sand and soil was moist, then set the cups back under the incubator.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we measured the growth, in centimeters, of the tallest chia plant within each group.

Our Results

After recording the data from our test groups for a few weeks, we found somewhat surprising results. The control group (wholly soil, which we assumed would be the most successful) had created a single sprout from Wednesday to Friday the first week, but it died when we returned on Monday. In our 1:3 mixture, the tallest plant was 7 cm. tall at the end of our observations. In our 1:1 mixture, the tallest sprout measured in at 7 cm. tall as well. Finally, the tallest sprout of our 3:1 mixture at the final measurement was 5.5 cm. The 1:3 and the 1:1 sprouts ended up being the tallest in the experiment.

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Conclusions -- Potential or Otherwise

We found that the chia seeds planted in the 1:1 mix of sand to soil and the 1:3 mix grew best: their final measurements stood at 7cm. They reached greater heights than the seeds planted in 100% soil and the 3:1 sand to soil group. Though our control group -- the 100% soil -- did not grow as well as we had hypothesized, perhaps chia is better suited to an environment that has sand mixed into it in the first place. This is good news for the purpose of our lab: that of locating the least amount of soil and the greatest amount of sand that the chia can grow in. If necessary, a sand-to-soil 1:1 mixture could be implemented in countries whose soil has poor agricultural quality in order to promote growth of plants -- especially chia and the multiple nutrients it brings.

A Response to Reachable Revisions

If we were to redo this lab, as in many other instances, there are so many other possibilities we could have explored and experienced and wouldn't mind including in a potential revision. We would like to be able to test the growth of chia seeds in other materials besides merely sand, and in surroundings besides the temperate climate maintained in the classroom. For, to go along with the purpose of our lab, we would need to find a food source that could grow in many climates for many different needy countries. We are also interested in the fact that the 100% soil plant, always the most feeble and now completely deceased, was not able to grow. It would yield fascinating resulits to test said soil composition again: perhaps it was just a fluke in the overall experiment. If we only have one sample, we will never know. Another potential source of interest would be to attempt this same experiment with a wealth of other plants, and discover their resiliance when exposed to various soil compositions. It is one of the core rules of farming: if more than one species can be utilized when growing crops in various places, then nutrients in the soil will not become depleted, and the crops will benefit.