Student research project in the Greenhouse
August 22, 2012
We’re growing worms this summer in one of our research greenhouses at the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre. Second year Biology student Jonathan Howatt is working under the direction of Dr. Paul Arnold, Engineering and Dr. David Kristie, Biology on an experiment looking at the affect of worm compost (vermicompost) on plant growth.
Jonathan’s project is investigating the feasibility of using vermicompost as a source of CO2 to enhance plant growth. Organic waste can be recycled by vermicompost quickly to produce nutritious soil with very little odour, therefore commercial nurseries may be interested in introducing worms to create an ecologically friendly way of generating high quality compost. Furthermore, nurseries may be able to increase the partial pressure of CO2 in and around plants by placing vermicompost bins in their greenhouses. The goal of the project is to determine whether nurseries can use the coupling of vermicompost as a low cost and sustainable way of increasing plant growth.
Vermicompost is the use of worms to aerate soil and increase the population of aerobic bacteria that will stimulate a higher decomposition rate of organic material. A product from this aerobic process is carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is used by plants to produce glucose using the chemical process photosynthesis (6CO2 + 6H2O + light energy => C6H12O6 + 6O2).
One of our favourite parts of the project is watching Johnathan grind up food for feeding his worms! We're looking forward to seeing the results of all of Jonathan's hard work this summer.