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Environmental sciences science fair project:
Impacts of Acid Rain on Crops

Science Fair Project Information
Title: Impacts of Acid Rain on Crops
Subject: Environmental Sciences
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 1st place, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (2008)
Canadian Meterorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) special award ( 2008)
2nd place in Junior Earth and Environmental Science Category at Saskatoon Regional Science Fair (2008).
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (VSF)
Year: 2008
Description: The purpose of this project was to test the effects of acid rain at varying pH levels on crop germination. The crops tested were canola, peas and wheat. The plant seeds were germinated and administered "acid rain" treatments inside Petri dishes on filter paper. The percent of germination and the development of the shoots was recorded over time.
Link: http://www.odec.ca/projects/2008/shar8a3/
Short Background

Canola Background and Cultivation

Canola was originally naturally bred from rapeseed in Canada by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stefansson in the early 1970s. The name "canola" was derived from "Canadian oil, low acid" in 1978. A product known as LEAR (for low erucic acid rapeseed) derived from cross-breeding of multiple lines of Brassica juncea is also referred to as canola oil and is considered safe for consumption.

Canola oil has been claimed to promote good health due to its very low saturated fat and high monounsaturated fat content, and beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile. The Canola Council of Canada states that it is completely safe and is the "healthiest" of all commonly used cooking oils. It has well established heart health benefits and is recognized by many health professional organizations including the American Dietetics Association, and American Heart Association, among others. Canola oil has been authorized a qualified health claim from the US Food and Drug Administration based on its ability to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to its unsaturated fat content.

Genetically modified canola which is resistant to herbicide was first introduced to Canada in 1995. Today 80% of the acres sown are genetically modified canola.

Pea Background and Cultivation

A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the legume Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Although it is botanically a fruit, it is treated as a vegetable in cooking. The name is also used to describe other edible seeds from the Fabaceae such as the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), and the seeds from several species of Lathyrus.

P. sativum is an annual plant, with a life cycle of one year. It is a cool season crop grown in many parts of the world; planting can take place from winter through to early summer depending on location. The average pea weighs between 0.1 and 0.36 grams. The species is used as a fresh vegetable, frozen or canned, but is also grown to produce dry peas like the split pea. These varieties are typically called field peas.

The wild pea is restricted to the Mediterranean basin and the Near East. The earliest archaeological finds of peas come from Neolithic Syria, Turkey and Jordan. In Egypt, early finds come from c. 4800–4400 bc in the delta area, and from c. 3800–3600 bc in Upper Egypt. The pea is also present in 5th millennium bc Georgia. Further east, the finds are younger. Pea remains were retrieved from Afghanistan c. 2000 bc. They are present in 2250–1750 bc Harappa Pakistan and north-west India, from the older phases of this culture onward. In the second half of the 2nd millennium bc this pulse crop appears in the Gangetic basin and southern India.

In the mid-1800s, Gregor Mendel's observations of pea pods led to the principles of Mendelian genetics, the foundation of modern genetics.

Wheat Background and Cultivation

Wheat (Triticum spp.), is a worldwide cultivated grass from the Levant region of the Middle East. Globally, after maize, wheat is the second most-produced food among the cereal crops just above rice. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour for leavened, flat and steamed breads; cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, juice, noodles and couscous; and for fermentation to make beer, alcohol, vodka or biofuel. Wheat is planted to a limited extent as a forage crop for livestock, and the straw can be used as fodder for livestock or as a construction material for roofing thatch.

Although wheat supplies much of the world's dietary protein and food supply, as many as one in every 100 to 200 people has Coeliac disease, a condition which results from an immune system response to a protein found in wheat: gluten (based on figures for the United States).

Wheat originated in Southwest Asia in the area known as the Fertile crescent. The genetic relationships between wild and domesticated populations of both einkorn and emmer wheat indicate that the most likely site of domestication is near Diyarbakır in Turkey.

Wheat genetics is more complicated than that of most other domesticated species. Some wheat species are diploid, with two sets of chromosomes, but many are stable polyploids, with four sets of chromosomes (tetraploid) or six (hexaploid).

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

For More Information (Background, pictures and references): Wheat, Canola, Pea

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Last updated: February 2013
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