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University of Technology

Principles of scientific
Practice: Laboratory
Class: Wednesday (9-12)
Student no: 99142921
Student name: Dhara Patel

Soil and water analysis
Date: 4th of March 2015
The overwhelming majority of life on earth depends on plants, and thus soil and water
for survival. Thus to have a full knowledge of biological processes, a basic
understanding of how soil and water quality (ie. composition variability) influences what
can and cant grow is fundamental. This practical also provides an introductory
experience in performing (and, hopefully, critically assessing) scientific data collection

Aquatic environments
High quality water is essential for the survival of most organisms in aquatic
environments. Water is the carrier for essential nutrients and it also removes waste.
Water contains dissolved substances, suspended fine material (both organic and
inorganic in origin), sediment particles and living organisms. Water quality is assessed
on a number of variables: pH, nutrient content (nitrogen and phosphorus), turbidity,
dissolved oxygen, and ionic composition which includes salinity and hardness. Two
qualitative variables are also sometimes recorded taste and colour.
Aim: To test the water quality of different water samples.
Equipment: 150mL beaker, pH probe, Electrical conductivity meter, Different water
1. Take a 5 mL of Mainly dam sample of the water in a beaker.
2. Take a 5mL of Centennial Park sample of the water in a beaker.
3. Take a 5mL of George river sample of the water in a beaker.
4. Measure the pH and electrical conductivity of each sample using pH probe and
Electrical conductivity meter.

Terrestrial environments soils

Soils are complex, heterogeneous substances derived from parent rock through
weathering and erosion. Soils provide nutrients and specific niches for the various

organisms that inhabit them.As the result of their origin, soils are composed of mineral
particles ranging in size from gravel to sand grains to very fine silt. In addition to these,
there is often significant quantities of decaying organic matter derived from dead
organisms, water, pockets of air and many different living organisms ranging from
bacteria, fungi, unicellular algae and microscopic animals to large living plant roots and
soil invertebrates. The variety of soil types reflects the varying proportions of these
components and the origin of the parent rock material.
Soils are characterised and classified by a number of properties some of which are listed
salinity and ionic content
organic matter content
grain size distribution
water holding capacity
Soil texture
Texture reflects the cohesive behaviour of a soil; it is determined by the types and
relative proportions of particles present, as well as by the presence of other substances
such as organic matter and ions. Texture is described in terms of relative proportions of
clay, silt and sand. The dominant size fraction is used to describe the texture;. Where
there is no dominant fraction, the soil is described as loam (see Fig. 1). Soil texture is a
major factor that determines what type of plants will grow.
Aim: To find out the characteristics and classification of different soils.
Equipment: Different types of soil and Water

1. Take a small sample of soil in the palm of the hand and moisten it with a little
2. Knead and moisten the ball until it just fails to stick to the fingers, adding water
or soil until this sticky point is reached. This is the bolus.
3. Note whether it was difficult to moisten, or whether your hand was stained, or
whether it was hard to manipulate the ball.
4. Try to extrude a ribbon of soil between thumb and forefinger, and measure the
length of ribbon finally extruded before it breaks off. The ability to withstand this
shearing action is determined by the composition of the soil.
5. If the bolus disintegrates and cannot be moulded it is said to be incoherent. The
soil is then given the texture grading SAND, and the clay content is assumed to
be less than 10%.
6. Determine If the bolus is coherent
7. Evidence of sand results in a gritty feel, sand grains are visible of can be heard
rubbing against one another during moulding. FINE SAND grains (0.020.2 mm)
cannot be seen without a hand lens, while COARSE SAND (>0.2 mm) is visible.

8. Record your results for ribbon length and texture.

Table 1. Texture grading characteristics of soils. sg sand grains; m medium
size (just visible with the naked eye); f fine (may be visible with hand lens); se- sand
evident; sne sand not evident.

Texture Grade

Other comments


Approx clay
content (%)


Bolus disintegrates cannot be moulded incoherent


~ 6.5

se; discolours fingers with dark organic stain

loamy sand

5 10, organics


se; discolours fingers with clay stain

clayey sand

510, no organics


se; m; very sandy to touch

sandy loam



se; sg visible with hand lens

fine sandy loam



se; sgm

light sandy clay loam

15 20

~ 25

sne; bolus spongy; smooth feel


~ 25

~ 25

se; sg not visible; bolus slightly spongy

fine sandy loam

~ 25

~ 25

sne; very smooth to silky feel

silt loam

~ 25; silt > 25


se; m

sandy clay loam

20 30


sne; bolus plastic; smooth feel

clay loam



sne; bolus plastic, smooth, silky feel

silty clay loam

3035; silt > 25


se; sg not visible

fine sandy clay loam



se; mf; bolus plastic

sandy clay



sne; bolus plastic, smooth, silky feel

silty clay

3540, silt > 25


sne; bolus plastic, smooth to touch; slight resistance to


light clay


> 75

sne; bolus plastic; smooth to touch; resists shearing

light medium clay


> 75

sne; bolus plastic, smooth; resits shearing; will mould

into rods

medium clay


> 75

sne; bolus plastic, smooth; firmly resists shearing; will

mould into rods

heavy clay

> 50

Figure 1. Texture chart (from Wild,


pH and salinity
Aim: To find out the optimum pH and salinity of different soils for plant growth.
Equipment: Water, Soil, Test tube, Stopper, pH probe, pH test paper, PH testing
1. The same soil suspension made with water should be used for pH and salinity.
The proportion of soil to water should be 1:3.
2. Add three volumes of water to the soil, stopper and shake.
3. Leave to stand for 1 hour with regular shaking
4. Measure the electrical conductivity of the supernatant above the sedimented
5. Measure the pH using an electronic pH meter.
6. Record the pH with the pH test paper.
7. Measure the pH using test kits designed for soils.
8. Record all of your readings.

Water holding capacity

Aim: To test the water holding capacity of different soils.
Equipment: Water, different type of soils, 150mL beakers, Stirring rod.
1. Progressively add water until the soil becomes visibly saturated.
2. Weigh out 100 g of each soil into separate beakers.
3. To each add water in 5 mL volumes with stirring in between. Keep count of how
many 5 mL volumes you have added.
4. Continue until each soil appears to be saturated with water and begins to
extrude water when you squeeze it against the side of the beaker with a rod.
5. Note the volume of water required to reach this point.

Aquatic Environment
The pH and electrical conductivity of different water sample

Terrestrial Environment
Identification of Soil

pH and Salinity

pH and salinity of different soil

Water Holding Capacity

Water Holding capacity of different soils


Water source, pH and electrical conductivity
1. Comment on which pH instrumental do you prefer using and why?
I prefer pH reading because it is calibrated and precise so it gives accurate
quantitative information. While, pH paper just shows alkalinity or acidity of a
substance giving qualitative information.

pH and salinity

2. Comment on any difference between the instrumental pH reading and that obtained
using the pH paper and soil pH testing kit. Which do you prefer using?
There is a difference of 0.7 as pH testing kit is very subjective and the colour chart
just shows acidity or alkalinity of substance giving qualitative information whereas
pH probe gives accurate and quantitative information as it is calibrated. Therefore, I
would prefer pH probe meter.
3. What is the practical significance of these results? For example how do they effect
plant growth and especially the capacity of the land to support human activities, such
as crop productivity, support for buildings etc.

The results allows us to know that Plant nutrients leach out of soils with a pH
below 5 much more quickly. Aluminium becomes toxic to plant development in
some soils with a pH under 5. pH affects the structure of the clay. When the clay
soils are granular and soft, indicates the optimum pH range from 5 to 7 for plants
while if the soil pH is extremely acidic or alkaline, clays would be sticky and hard
to cultivate. A pH indicates whether the soil will be optimal for plant growth or
whether it will need to be treated to adjust the pH level.

The water holding capacity test allows farmers to optimize the crop production.
The aim is to maintain the soil water holding capacity maximum. The test allows
to know if there is insufficiency of water in the soil which needs to be refilled by
irrigation and precipitation to avoid situations like a drought. The soil water
holding capacity is determined by soil texture and organic matter. For example, if
the soil is made up of small particle sizes (slit and clay) will have large surface
which will make it easier for soil to hold onto water, therefore it has a higher
water holding capacity while soil with large particle sizes such as Sand will have
smaller surface area so its water holding capacity will be poor. Farmers can
increase the soil organic matter to improve water holding capacity.
The electrical conductivity test allows us to know the quality of the water. A
sudden change in conductivity is a sign of pollution. Increase in conductivity can
be due to Agricultural runoff or a sewage leak as they can increase the chloride,
phosphate and nitrate ions. Decrease in conductivity can be due to increase in
organic compounds as they don't turn into ions. Increase or Decrease
conductivity both will have a negative effect on water quality. Also, the change in
the conductivity of the environment due to increase or decrease in salt levels will
be harmful for the metabolic abilities of the aquatic organisms. Furthermore, the
electrical conductivity allows us to know whether distilled water is pure or not.
The measurement of pH in water allows us to know if the water is suitable for
drinking and marine life or if there is a need for treatment. Extremely high and
low pH can be very harmful for the use of water as very high pH causes a bitter
taste, water pipes and bath will be covered with deposit, cause corrosion and
dissolving of metals. When pH is high it reduces the efficiency of the chlorine
used for disinfection in water purifying process, thus more chlorine will be
required. Also, marine organisms like fish are sensitive to pH so change in pH
will decrease metabolic activity resulting in death.
The pH and salinity test are required as they are involved in plant nutrition and
soil productiveness. It can be controlled to make sure that they do not limit the
plant growth. The measurement of pH allows us to know whether soil is alkaline
or acidic. The soils that are extremely alkaline or acidic make particular
nutrients unavailable to plants that can limit the plan growth. Hence, testing pH
is important for agricultural and horticultural purposes. Furthermore, Salinity
can affect crops and meadow. The harshness of soil salinity decides which plant

can be grown successfully. The result of increasing salinity is that traditional

crop and Pasteur plants do not grow or have very low yield.


Date: 25th of March 2015

To find out the effect of the temperature of banana peel on

the extraction of heavy metal.


The amount of metal removal will decrease as

the temperature of banana peel increases.

Independent variable: Temperature of water and banana


Dependent variable:

Metal concentration

Controlled variable:

Original concentration of metal,

volume of metal solution, treatment process time, size of banana

1. Weigh exactly 2.0g of dried banana peel
2. Crush the 2.0g of dried banana peel using mortar and pestle for
15 minutes
3. Sieve the crushed peel to obtain similar sizes of banana peel
4. Put 0.025g of minced banana peel in 150mL beaker.
5. Heat the minced banana peel at 25 degree Celsius for 10 minutes
using Bunsen burner.
6. Allow to cool heated minced banana peel for 5 minutes.
7. Pour 5mL of the copper solution into the same beaker.

8. Stir gently for 1 minute using stirring rod to mix the content.
9. Measure the voltage of the mixed solution using the ion selective
10. Repeat steps 4-9 to heat the minced banana peel at 50, 75 and
100 degree Celsius.
11. Record the results and draw a calibrated graph
12. Repeat the experiment three times to improve the reliability of
the experiment.

To generate calibration curve we followed the following


The calibration curve is used to discover the unknown concentration

of banana peels solution.

Results and discussion:

This graph shows a general trend in the absorption capabilities of

the banana peel at higher temperatures. The temperature of the
banana peel increases, its ability to extract heavy metals from the
copper solution decreases. At room temperature (around 25 degrees
Celsius) the banana peel absorbed large amounts of the copper from
the solution while at 100 degrees Celsius the banana peel absorbed
least amount of the copper from the solution. However, as the
banana peel is heated to 75 degrees Celsius the graph displays a
massive jump in voltage reading to 205.9 V. This trend continues,
escalating to 222.1 V at 100 degrees Celsius.
The lack of investigating lower temperatures and the use of large
temperatures intervals only provides limited evidence of the age of
banana peel in relation to its ability to extract heavy metals

It can be concluded from this investigation that the rising of
temperature of the banana peel has a significant impact on its
absorption capabilities of heavy metals such as Copper. It was found
that between 25 and 50 degrees Celsius heat had little impact on
the extraction of heavy metals from the copper solution while at
higher temperatures like 100 degree Celsius the banana peel
absorbs least amount of the copper from the solution. However,
flaws in the experiment such as the lack of investigating lower

temperatures and large heat intervals would mean that for any solid
conclusion to be made, the experiment must be repeated for more
accurate results.

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