Sustainability and Plant Minerals

Sustainable Practices

  • sustainability = using resources in a way that meets the needs of the present generation without using it all up so there are none left for future generations
  • to make products sustainably, you have to use renewable resources (can be used indefinitely without running out)
  • an example of sustainable practice is replacing trees after logging which stops significant damage to the environment in the long term
  • unsustainable practices can't continue indefinitely (fossil fules)
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Plant Fibres

  • ropes and fabrics can be made of plastic (comes from oil) but they can also be made from plant fibres
  • making products from plant fibres is more sustainable than making them from oil - less fossil fuel is used up, and crops can be regrown to maintain the supply for fututre generations
  • products made from plant fibres are biodegradable, (broken down by microbes) unlike most oil-based products
  • plants are easier to grow and extract fibres from than extracting and processing oil, making them cheaper and easier to do in developing countries with less technology
  • ropes made from plant fibres are generally not as strong as ropes made from plastic
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  • is found in all plants (potatoes and corn are very rich in starch)
  • plastics are usually made from oil, but some can be made from plant-based materials like starch (called bioplastics)
  • vehicle fuel is also usually made from oil, but you can make it from starch e.g. bioethanol
  • making plastics and fuel from starch is more sustainable than making them from oil because less fossil fuel is used up and the crops from which the starch comes from can be regrown
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Inorganic Ions

Plants need water an inorganic ions for a number of different functions. They're absorbed through the roots and travel through the plant in the xylem. If there isn't enough water or inoirganic ions in the soil, the plant will show deficiency symptoms like stunted growth.

  • water - photosynthesis, to maintain structural rigidity, transport minerals, and regulate temperature
  • magnesium ions - production of chlorophyll (the pigment needed for photosynthesis)
  • nitrate ions - production of DNA, proteins (including enzymes) and chlrorphyll, they're required for plant growth, fruit production and seed production
  • calcuim ions are important components in plant cell walls, they're required for plant growth
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Core Practical: Plant Mineral Deficiencies

  • take 30 seedlings of the same plant (same age and height) and plant them in separate pots
  • make up 3 nutrient broths containing all but one of the essential minerals (one without magnesium ions, one without nitrate ions, one without calcuim ions)
  • split the plants into 3 groups, each should be given only one of the broths
  • record the heights of the plants after 7 weeks, calculate the average height of each group of plants
  • keep all other variables constant (exposure to sunlight, temperature, humidity, volume of water received)
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