Soil is home to a great number and wide range of microorganisms, among them algae, fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Although the number of microorganisms found in soil can sound alarming, it’s important to know that these tiny organisms need nutrients in order to grow and be active in the soil. If the soil lacks the necessary nutrients, the majority of microorganisms may be physiologically inactive.
Microorganisms can be both good news and bad news for plants and those who grow them. Some help to decompose roots, stems, and leaves of plants that die, helping to recycle nutrients in the soil. Others increase nutrients in the soil and make it more fertile. Some even act as natural fertilizers.
Not all microorganisms are helpful, however. Some can infect plants through their roots and cause considerable damage.
In this suggested science fair project, you would investigate whether plants grow better in soil containing microorganisms than in mars or lunar soil that has none. To do so, you need a sample of fertile soil from your garden or a field, and a sample of mars or lunar regolith from Alamo Space Dirt.
Plant the same number of the same type of seeds in each of the different batches of soil, and provide the same environment and care to each group. Record your results carefully.