The Effect on the Growth of Lettuce Plants Using Various Recyclable Non-Soil Substrates


  • Zain Rehman Central High School
  • Jothsna Kethar Gifted Gabber



Agriculture, Food Security, Sustainable Living, Global Warming


For a long time now, people have known the devastating effects of soil agriculture. This can include deforestation due to excessive agriculture which increases carbon emissions causing global warming. Previous research emphasized the urgency of developing green sustainable solutions to grow food such as hydroponics and aeroponics. Tron Sherman, of Mansfield, MO, introduced the idea of using a recyclable substrate (i.e., tires) for growing plants. The objective in this study is to determine if lettuce plants will grow better and faster in recyclable substrates using hydroponics as compared to soil. Lettuce plants were selected to grow hydroponically using the Kratky method (defined below) in 7 substrates which included 6 recyclable household materials and one of soil. The best plant from each substrate was selected from height, weight, root length, and width data over the course of 7 weeks. It was found that the best performing substrates in height, weight, root length, and width was found to be cloth and the sponge. All the household recyclable substrates with exception of cushion filling were found to grow plants better than soil. Findings suggest that while rockwool or other commercially available products are used as substrates for hydroponics, recyclable household substrates can be just as effective and better than soil, while reducing cost.


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Author Biography

Jothsna Kethar, Gifted Gabber


References or Bibliography

Bernard, B., & Lux, A. (2016, July 27). How to feed the world sustainably: an overview of the discourse on agroecology and sustainable intensification. Regional Environmental Change, 17, 1279-1290.

Bulla, A. (n.d.). The Kratky Method: Growing with Passive Hydroponic Technique. Gardening Chores.

Folk, E. (2020, August 29). Hydroponics part 1: Growing the food we need without dirt. Red Green and Blue.

Harvard T.H. CHAN | School of Public Health. (n.d.). The Nutrition Source.

Muller, A., Ferre, M., Engel, S., Gattinger, A., Holzkamper, A., Huber, R., Muller, M., & Six, J. (2017). Can soil-less crop production be a sustainable option for soil conservation and future agriculture? Land Use Policy, 69(C), 102-105.

Vermeulen, S. J., Campbell, B. M., & Ingram, J. S. (2012, July 30). Climate Change and Food Systems. Annual Reviews, 195.



How to Cite

Rehman, Z., & Kethar, J. (2022). The Effect on the Growth of Lettuce Plants Using Various Recyclable Non-Soil Substrates. Journal of Student Research, 11(2).



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