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Lauren Epstein

2 April 2015
Group: Bailey, Jared, Devin
Effects of Erosion Lab
Problem: How does grass effect the movement of water in an ecosystem?
Vegetation has roots that spread throughout the soil underground, which causes the roots to act as
a sort of net that holds the soil in place and prevents erosion and runoff from occurring. The Erosion
that occurs from loss of plant roots is bad because it causes lots of soil to be in the water, which causes
the water to become murky, and can make the water hotter if it is dark enough. This can also cause
excess nutrients in the water. This can lead to the overgrowth or formation of algae that blocks sunlight
from entering the water and having the opposite affect of dark water because it can be too cold for the
Buffer zones are a designated area of land around water source, such as a lake or stream, where
the trees and other plants are not allowed to be killed and logging is not allowed to be done. These zones
are highly regulated because the vegetation, as explained earlier, holds the soil in place and prevents
soil, fertilizer, and other substances from eroding and causing runoff. Therefore the experiment is
designed to measure just how much grass affects soil erosion and runoff and is relevant to watershed
buffer zones and other places.
Hypothesis: Compared to the other groups of plain soil and gravel, the bottle containing the grass will
retain the most amount of water and have less erosion because the roots will hold the soil in place unlike
the other bottles.
Control: Soil
Independent: Grass, gravel

Dependant: Amount of water passing through, time it takes, amount of erosion


3, 2 liter bottles, cut in half

Potting soil

Grass seed


Gravel or leaf litter

Sowing the seeds
1. Place soil in an empty 2L bottle that has been cut in half. Spread grass seed throughout the soil.
2. Water grass seed every 3-4 days and allow it to sit near a source of sunlight or a lamp.
Testing the effects
1. When the grass has grown 2-4 inches, you are ready to test.
2. Fill two empty 2L bottles with soil. Cover one with a top cover of your choice (gravel or leaf
litter) and leave the other one with only soil as a control.
3. Place one of the bottles up on top of an elevated surface. Place an empty beaker underneath the
mouth the bottle.
4. Prepare a graduated cylinder with desired amount of water in mL.
5. Have a student start a timer and say GO. When the timer says go, pour the water into the
6. Record the time, amount, and qualities of the water discharge in the table below.
7. Repeat for the other two bottles.
Data Analysis:
In the data our group found that the most effective bottle for preventing erosion was the bottle
that contained the grass. This was determined because the water that ran through the grass was
significantly cleaner and only had a few specs of soil floating in it and only 150 mL out of the 250 mL
originally poured in came out. This was a drastic difference from the other two bottles when the water
was almost muddy and was very dark and filled with soil. The Grass and the Gravel bottles had around

the same time for the water to stop flowing which could be due to the fact that they both had something
the water could flow off of faster while the plain soil mostly absorbed it before nearly all of the water
poured in flowed out. The amount of time could be due to not holding the bottle at the right angle as
well since the water flowed for about 20 more seconds than the other bottles.

Water collected (mL) Time for water to

stop flowing (sec)

Observations (color,
density, etc).

With Grass

150 mL

45 seconds

clear with only a small

amount of soil.

With Gravel

175 mL

46 seconds

Very dark, a lot of soil

With soil only

210 mL

61 seconds

nearly black, huge

amount of soil.

Amount of water used: 250 mL Angle: Approximately 50

The water found in the plain soil had the most runoff and contained a large amount of soil to the
point where it was almost mud. The second bottle that contained soil and gravel was slightly better
than the plain soil but it still had caused a lot of erosion/runoff and had quite a bit of soil from the
bottle leftover. Lastly the bottle that had the grass was the best and had a very minimal amount of
dirt found in the water. The grass bottle also stopped running water after the shortest amount of time
between all three.
Deforestation is when all the trees in an area are cut down to be used to build homes or for other
various reasons. The best choice after deforestation is to plant more vegetation because the root
system of the plants will hold the soil in place and will prevent erosion and desertification.
Grass would still be the better choice for the greatest chance of cleaning pollutants as well. Even
though some or most of the grass will die from the pollution, grass is a very hardy plant and will
grow back even after most of the other vegetation has died. Also if the grass is capable of filtering or
keeping the soil out of the water, it could be true for pollutants. Either way another experiment
would have to be designed to test these hypotheses. It also would have the same set up and methods,

but instead of measuring the amount of soil in the water we would be measuring the amount of
pollutants left in the water after filtering through the bottle.
This experiment could be done on a larger scale by looking at the effects a deforested area has on
the surrounding watersheds. Then vegetation like grass and other things could be planted and then
measure the effects or if the plants caused any improvement of the water and/or erosion conditions.
Relate what you observed in the lab to the concept of buffer zones, soil erosion, and water pollution.