GOLD

Microgreens - Lighting up our Future

A project that looks at different sources of light for growing plant life, in particular Microgreens, a small but powerful nutrition source.
Lily Johnson
Grade 6

Hypothesis

What light makes microgreens grow the fastest with full bloom? If I use sunlight, led multi-color light, white light, and no light, I believe that the white light will help the microgreens to grow the most efficiently. I believe white light will be the most effective in providing the photosynthesis that the microgreen plants need due to the multiple colours combined in its colour spectrum of lights, as well as the fact that the plants will get the best exposure to the light with no clouds to block it.

Research

To start my project I researched microgreens and their many health benefits.

-Microgreens are a type of vegetable green that is cut or harvested just after the growth of the first two leaves. These leaves are called cotyledon leaves, these are the first two leaves that bloom in a cotyledon dicot (a plant with its first 2 leaves).

-Microgreens have been studied to find they have more nutrients than the same mature plant.

-Microgreens can grow from any vegetable or herb.

-Microgreens take up much less space to grow and they take much less time to grow than a mature plant 

-Microgreens are extremely nutritious, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and even protein. They can have up to forty times the nutrients of a mature adult plant of the same species. They also are extremely healthy and beneficial because of their antioxidants levels.

-Sunflower microgreens contain protein. as well as many vitamins and minerals

I then moved on to research lighting and how it affects plant growth.

-White light contains multiple different colours from the colour spectrum including red, blue, and green

-Sunlight is white light.

-Light from the entire color spectrum is used in different ways for plant growth.

-Etiolation happens when plants are grown with no light and they try to grow tall to reach the sunlight.

Variables

Controlled Variables

-Soil type 

-Tray type

-Seed quantity

-Water consumption

-Length of time in light source

Manipulated Variables 

-Types of lighting

Responding Variables

-Height of growth 

-Quality of the bloom

-Speed of the bloom

-Nutrition

Procedure

To start my project I researched microgreens and their many health benefits. I also researched types of lighting for plant growth. I researched and then purchased potting trays, organic potting soil, white light; multi-colour LED grow light, and three types of microgreen seeds, sunflower microgreens, kale microgreens, and pea microgreens.

First I did a sample tray of pea microgreens. I washed a tray and entered one tablespoon into a jar of water to soak, after 24 hours I spread the seeds on the trays of soil, one tablespoon per tray. before I placed each tray under their lights, I covered the tray and put weight on top of the plants to germinate. after another 24 hours, I placed the tray into the spot under the sunlight to grow.  During the time span of two weeks, I watered the two times a day. I wanted to confirm the quality of the seeds before starting the full experiment.

I did another sample tray of sunflower microgreens. I washed a tray and entered one tablespoon of seeds into a jar, I rinsed the seeds and soaked them for 48 hours. After soaked, I spread the seeds across the tray covering and placing weight on top for germination. After germinating for 2 days I placed the tray under the sunlight and watered it twice each day. These seeds were found to be of good quality and so I started the full experiment.

Now I started to grow my first batch. This time I started with sunflower microgreens. I washed and filled four trays with the same amount of soil each, entered four tablespoons of sunflower microgreens into a jar, and rinsed well. I then soaked the seeds for 48 hours. After soaked, I spread the seeds equity on each tray (one tablespoon per tray) I covered and placed weight on the four trays for 2 days letting them germinate. After germination, I placed each tray into their spots with one under no light, one under sunlight, one under white light, and one under LED multi-colour light. Each day I watered each tray twice a day with one cup of water and measured the microgreens growth. After 10 days I removed the husks (seeds) from the microgreens. I took note of when each trays plants bloomed a full two leaves, the cotyledon dicot stage. The white light, sunlight and LED light microgreens all reached full bloom by the 9th day, the no-light plants grew but did not bloom. I tested the sunflower microgreens for taste.   

I started the second batch of kale microgreens. I soaked 4 teaspoons of kail seeds in a jar, letting them soak for four hours. I washed four trays and filled them with soil. Once the seeds were done soaking I spread them across the four trays. I covered and placed weight on top of each tray for germination. After 48 hours I placed each tray under their light. Each day I watered each plant twice and measured. I tasted all 4 microgreen batches. 

I started the third and last batch of pea microgreens. I washed and soaked 4 tablespoons of the seeds for 12 hours. I filled four trays with soil. After the seeds were done soaking I placed 1 tablespoon of seeds in each, covering, then placing weight on top. Once germinated I placed each tray under the four lights, I watered each tray with water every day, in the morning and at night. I measured the plants each day and recorded the data. After 7 days the 3 light source trays had reached full bloom.

I recorded all my findings into graphs and edited them and analyzed the results. I then started to record all my project findings onto the site.

 

 

Observations

Sunflower microgreens - Sunlight- I think that sunlight did not grow the fullest but did grow around 13-15 cm. Due to this sunlight was the 2nd best grower. In the taste test, the sunlight microgreen was crunchy but with less flavor.

Sunflower microgreens -White light - The white light was the best grower due to the perfect amount of fullness and the height was around 14-16 cm. This was definitely the 1st out of all of them. In the taste test, I found the white light was crisp with lots of flavors.

Sunflower microgreens-LED multi-color grow light- I think that LED was the 3rd best grower due to the fewer amounts of fullness but only grew around 10-12 cm. In the taste test, the LED microgreen was crisp with a nice flavor.

Sunflower microgreens-No light- This was the 4th best grower due to the mostly non-existent leaves and the height only grew to around 10-12 cm. Due to the light-producing no chlorophyll, the plant was white and yellow which made it more interesting to look at and it was nice to eat, it wasn't too strong.

 

Kale microgreens-Sunlight- I think that the sunlight was the second-best grower due to the more spread out growing instead of full. In the taste test, sunlight was soft with a little bit of a bitter taste.

Kale microgreens-White light- I think that white light was the best grower due to the fullest bloom and its fast growth. In the taste test, white light tasted bitter but had some flavor, It was definitely soft and my favorite tasting.

Kale microgreens-LED multi-colour grow light- I think that LED light was the 3rd best grower due to the slow growth but the plants were pretty full. In the taste test, the LED was very bitter but soft and was not my favorite for taste.

Kale microgreens-No light- I think that no light was the 4th best grower it definitely grew the fastest but did not grow the fullest bloom. In the taste test, no light was very bitter and much harder than the rest.

 

Pea microgreens-White light-The white light was the best at growing pea microgreens. They came to full bloom first and they grew much more full and a little taller than the rest. In the taste test, white light was crispy and bitter.

Pea microgreens-Sunlight- The sunlight was the second-best grower. The pea microgreens under sunlight reached full bloom on the sixth day, the same day as the white light, however, they were not as tall as the white light. They were also more spread out. In the taste test, sunlight was bitter and crispy but was not my favorite.

Pea microgreens-LED multi-colour grow light- The LED light was the third-best grower of pea microgreens. They reached full bloom on the seventh day and they were not as tall as the white light. In the taste test, LED was bitter with a bit of a tingly sweet taste. 

Pea microgreens-No light- The no light was the 4th best grower, it grew very tall but spread out across the tray, The pea microgreens did not get to full bloom with no-light and the stems felt like weird wires. In the taste test, the no-light was very crispy and bitter.    

 

Analysis

 

The graph above shows the sunflower microgreens growth. The white light was the fastest and the first to come to full bloom, the cotyledon dicot stage, on the 9th day. The sunlight and LED grow light both came to full bloom on the 11th day but the sunlight grew taller. No light grew tall but never came to full bloom.

 

The graph above shows the kale microgreens growth. The white light and the LED grow light came to full bloom on the 5th day, the white light grew taller. The sunlight came to full bloom on the 6th day and grew to the same height as the LED grow light. No light grew the tallest but did not come to full bloom.

 

 

The graph above shows the pea microgreens growth. The white light and the sunlight came to full bloom on the 6th day but the white light grew taller. the LED grow light came to full bloom on the 7th day and was the same height as the sunlight. No light grew the tallest but it never reached full bloom.

 

Conclusion

The hypothesis was correct, white light was the best at growing microgreens. It was the fastest and the tallest plant to get to full bloom. I believe the reason for this is the light's full colour spectrum, as well as the full length of time the plants were exposed to light. Sunlight was the next best at growing microgreens, however, with the kale microgreens it came in third. A reason for this could be the weather, as sunlight is dependant on cloud coverage. The third best light to grow microgreens was the LED grow light. The microgreens did not grow as tall under the grow light but they were very full and always came to full bloom. As suspected, no light was the worst to grow microgreens. It was surprising how tall the plants got but they never reached the cotyledon dicot stage. They never turned green due to there being no light for photosynthesis. 

 

 

Application

This experiment and its results are important for the world for many reasons. It is great to inform people about the health benefits of microgreens and that they are so easy to grow. Sunflower microgreens are a very good source of protein so they can be eaten instead of meat. This can be beneficial because we create less of a carbon footprint if less meat is consumed, especially red meat.

Now that it is known that white light is better than even sunlight at growing microgreens, people who live in places where there is very little light in the winter can still grow a nutrition source right at home. My uncle and his family live in Sweden and in the winter, they get much less sunlight. They could grow microgreens with an energy-efficient white light and always have a healthy source of nutrition right in their home. When people grow microgreens at home they will be contributing to a sustainable lifestyle. They won't always need to drive to the grocery store for vegetables and less produce will have to be transported from warmer places. People who live in cities and don't have gardens can still grow healthy produce.

 Microgreens can be grown quickly, especially with white light, they can be grown in small spaces and with very little water. If people choose to grow microgreens they can have a good impact on the world.

 

Sources Of Error

It was discovered that the timer did not work for the LED Grow light on the first day. The timer had issues, so the light had to be manually turned on and off for the rest of the experiment.

 

Citations

Beyond the garnish: Will a new type of produce get the microgreen light?. (2020). Retrieved 5 March 2021, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200528115813.htm

Dalal, N., Siddiqui, S.& Raj, N. (2020). Sensory Attributes of Sunflower Microgreens with Storage under Ethanol Vapour and Organic Acid Treatments. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences. 9. 208-214. 10.20546/ijcmas.2020.902.026. 

How the Color Spectrum Affects Plant Growth. Retrieved 19 January 2020, from https://www.lumigrowth.com/light-essential/

Iannotti, M. (2020). What Are Cotyledons, Monocots, and Dicots?. Retrieved 6 February 2021, from https://www.thespruce.com/what-are-cotyledons-monocots-and-dicots-1403098

Kyriacou, M. C., De Pascale, S., Kyratzis, A., & Rouphael, Y. (2017). Microgreens as a Component of Space Life Support Systems: A Cornucopia of Functional Food. Frontiers in plant science8, 1587. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01587

Lester, G., Xiao, Z., Luo, Y. & Wang, Q. (2013). Microgreens: Assessment of Nutrient Concentrations. 

Red cabbage microgreens lower 'bad' cholesterol in animal study. (2016). Retrieved 25 January 2020, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161214115112.htm

Villazon, L. Can any plants live without sunlight?. Retrieved 23 January 2020, from https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/can-any-plants-live-without-sunlight/

 

Acknowledgement

I would love to thank my family, my mom for helping me in so many ways. She helped me revise my writing, she helped me remember things like the watering, she helped with my research, she filmed me during my presentation, and she took some of the photos. I would like to thank my dad for helping me with planting everything, he helped me choose the lights and set them up, and he helped me with my research. And lastly, I would like to thank my brother for helping me with the science fair because he has done very well at the science fair before, so he knew how and what to do. So thank you to my family!