Front Entrance of Ruth Patrick Science and Education Center

RPSEC Environmental Science Award 2014

Ruth Patrick Science Education Center

Congratulations to Daelyn Doughty & Kolbe Dolin from Alleluia Community School, Augusta, GA, recipients of the 2014 Ruth Patrick Science and Education Center Environmental Science Award

The 2014 CSRA Regional Science and Engineering Fair was held on March 15 at USC Aiken. There were over 200 projects from CSRA schools displayed at the fair. Each year, the RPSEC presents an environmental science award in honor of Dr. Ruth Patrick. Dr. Patrick pioneered work in the study of fresh water ecosystems and developed methods for measuring the health of these systems.

2014 Dolin Doughty Backboard
2014 Doughty Dolin Experiment

Title of Project

"Take Cover"


The goal of the project, "Take Cover", was to determine if soil could be enhanced by growing a crop only to till under. We believed this would nourish the soil enough to positively impact the growth of a cash crop planted in the enriched soil. Our theory was that we would see a significant improvement in the growth of a cash crop planted after a cover crop versus the growth of the same cash crop in plain soil.

To test our theory, we dug up typical yard soil and planted rye grass in half our soil. Both halves were watered equally and rotated daily to ensure equal treatment. After 14 days, we cut up the rye grass, dumped out the soil where it had been planted, and mixed the cut-up grass thoroughly into the soil. We then measured that soil up into eight pots and planted pre-germinated Alaskan peas in the enhanced soil. The other half of the soil, which had not been pre-planted with a cover crop, was treated exactly the same. As an additional control, we also planted pre-germinated peas in plain sand that had been wash to remove and nutrients.

The results supported our theory. Within two days of planting the peas (Day 16), there were 2.5 times more plants sprouted in the cover crop soil than the quantity of sprouts in the plain soil. Overall, the cover crop plants ranged from 6.8 to 22.6 percent taller than the peas in normal soil.

We believe that the use of cover crops prior to planting cash crops can be practically applied to the farming community in a positive fashion to both save farmers money on fertilizer as well as improving the quality of their cash crop. And this fertilization method would not be harmful to surrounding wildlife or groundwater.