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Experiments on Soil Index

Investigating the Presence of Micro-organisms in Different Soil Layers
The Tullgren Funnel
Testing for the Presence of Living Organisms in the Soil

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PRACTICAL WORK

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Testing the pH of the Soil

Introduction

The pH scale measures the acidity or the alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale goes from pH1 to pH14. pH1 is the most acid, pH14 is the most alkaline and pH 7 is neutral (neither acid nor alkaline).

pH scale

Living things cannot tolerate a pH much above or below pH7 (neutral).

 

Aim

To find the pH of the different soil samples taken from the deciduous forest.

Letter

Name of Layer

A

The Leaf Litter

B

The Humus Layer

C

The Humus mixed with Minerals Layer

D

The Mineral Layer mixed with very little Humus

 

Method

1. Set up the apparatus as shown in the diagram below.

 

pH of soil apparatus ©  Shirley Burchill

 

2. Shake the test tube vigorously for a few seconds. (NB. Place your thumb over the rubber bung to stop it falling out. Shake until the soil sample completely mixes with the rest of the contents of the test tube.)

3. Label your test tube and replace it in the test tube rack. Leave it until the contents have settled.

4. Repeat points 1., 2. and 3. with the three other soil samples.

5. Compare the colours of the liquid in each of the four test tubes with the standards provided. Record your results.

 

Results

You will be provided with the pH standards for the indicator liquid you are using.

Photo of pH indicator standards ©  Shirley Burchill

N.B. The barium sulphate (US spelling = sulfate) powder is neutral. It is included in each tube to bind with the particles of soil so that they fall to the bottom of the tube after it has been shaken. This allows you to see the colour of the liquid more easily.

 

Test Tube

Estimated pH of the liquid

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

 

Conclusion

Write a conclusion to this experiment.
Are there any differences in the pH levels of the four soil layers?
Explain the reason for any differences.
If your results are not as you might have expected, suggest why.

 

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