Experiment planning and preparation for my first experiment is in full course. This will be a relatively big experiment in which plants will be grown in soils and it has been more challenging to prepare it than I anticipated. The number of people involved in helping me is huge and I think this is most thought through experiment I’ve ever run. After initial discussion with my supervisor on the aims and hypothesis, I discussed soil questions with a soil scientist who helped me choose soils (they needed to be low in initial P and Zn and of different types). Then I met a statistician to decide on the experimental design, plan and statistical analyses. Once I had a rough plan of how much of soil I will be needing (<135 kg of sieved soil, <2mm), collecting of soils took place. Of three types of soils I will be using, we never brought in enough in the first go, thus visiting sites again was a must (well I was very lucky that from the furthest site, a farm manager on site was kind enough to bring the soils for me). Work load with the amount of soils was huge (and it is still ongoing) and it resulted in sore back for my right hand in the venture, our technician Gladys. There was a lot of lifting of bags full of soils, first to bring them in, then to spread the soils to air dry, pack the dried soils back into bags, get them to the sieving place, sieve it and then to weigh it (of course not on site, but in another building all together), storing it… The most time consuming was soil sieving and here are some glimpses into how it was done.

DSCN8571 DSCN8573 DSCN8576

And in the publication all this work will be described as only: “the soil was air dried and sieved <2mm”. Short sentence for a huge task. Anyway, I am almost done with it. The last batch is to be sieved in a couple of days. Then I will still need to amend the soils with different P and Zn concentrations and let it sit for a while. In the meantime, soil analyses will be performed. I will need to make sure that the experiment plan is followed precisely as the correct positioning of particular treatment is crucial and the layout should satisfy conditions of future statistical procedures… If all goes as planned, I will have results at the end of June. 🙂

By the way, all the plants I’ve been growing flowered and produced seeds! I am about to collect the seeds and plan the rest of the experiment. Anxious!

DSCN8514 DSCN8512