Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Biology

Additional Departmental Affiliation

Agriculture

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

In the Middle East, virtually all agriculturally viable land is under high threat of desertification due to poor land and resource management and climate change. Mulching using straw flakes (straw mulch permaculture) is a method commonly used in successful dry land permaculture projects in the Middle East. We proposed that straw mulch permaculture would increase the amount of soil moisture during dry periods and that this method would not impact the growth and survival of the crop. In order to test this hypothesis, we took soil samples from plots with and without straw mulch permaculture in Bowling Green, KY and Essaouira, Morocco. We also measured the survival rate and total mass of plants grown in straw mulch-treated and control plots at the end of the growing season. Findings indicate that the presence of straw permaculture does increase the levels of soil moisture during dry periods, saving up to 33,000 L of water per hectare, and has no effect during wetter periods. The results also showed a significant difference between the mass of plants grown in plots treated with straw mulch permaculture and the control plots with plants grown in plots with straw permaculture having a slightly larger average. These results suggest that straw mulch permaculture has potential implications for small scale agriculture productivity in the Middle East.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Albert Meier, Dr. Martin Stone, Dr. Chris Groves

Disciplines

Agriculture | Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Hydrology

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