Our Final Challenge Experiments
How will different perennial grasses (native Bluestem, non-native Kentucky Bluegrass, non-native Fescue) compare in growth and productivity within different environments? 'Productivity' includes: Germination rate, length of time to germinate, ground cover, hardiness (in different environments), root development, blade development and height
When we presented our Round 1 experiment results to members of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) this past fall, they were very interested in having us continue our work. We had focused on comparing the ability of MDOT grass seed mixes to (native) perennial big bluestem in their ability to remove nitrates from soil as well as their hardiness in different environments and ability to provide habitat and coexist with other (native) species. Currently, no native perennial grass species are used in any grass mixes that MDOT uses in its roadside rehabilitation projects. Results from our initial experimentation helped us to come up with our hypothesis.
Big Bluestem will survive the longest and best in stressed environments as well as be the best long term solution for nitrate and toxin removal from soil. Though it takes longer to mature, if big bluestem is incorporated into grass seed mixes, it will blend best with other native species, remove the widest variety of toxins, and stabilize soil.
We are testing 3 perennial grass species and comparing to two high performing MDOT seed mixes from our earlier experiments: Big Bluestem, Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, and MDOT mixes Tuffstuff, and Quick-2-Grow. We will record data regarding all of the parameters listed under our objectives, including pictures and quantitative measurements.
1) Five trials will be used for each type of seed.
2) There will be five cups with 120 cubic centimeters of topsoil (with
a 30 cubic centimeter drainage layer of sand) in each.
4) Each cup will have a thin layer of grass seed.
5) Each cup will have a thin layer of soil to cover the seeds.
6) 50 mL of water will be added to the cups once every three days
(initially, unless soil becomes too wet - this will be kept constant
7) Trials will be labeled (by seed type) and placed in a sunny
8) Observations will take place several times per week. Each parameter will be recorded in a table of results (pictures will
also be taken on each date of observation)
Results of Our Experiment
We have not completed all aspects of our experiment at this time and intend to update the website when we are finished with our entire experiment with all the data. We are observing the survivability of the different seed mixes in different harsh environments.
Goals of Our Project
We hope to see bluestem incorporated in some seed mixes and replace the less performing types of seed. We will also create a seed mix of our own, which we will recommend to MDOT and possibly to other organizations.