Investigating the optimum concentration of a solution of Urea [(NH2)2CO] and Ammonium Nitrate [(NH4NO3] nutrition solution (as inorganic fertilisers) required for optimum plant growth and a sustained yield of rice.


Hydroponics is the growing of plants in water instead of soil. For most effective results, the water must be enriched with nutrients and sometimes requires to be oxygenated.

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For a plant to receive a well balanced diet, everything in the soil must be in perfect balance. Rarely, can you find such ideal conditions in soil due to contamination and biological imbalances. But with hydroponics, water is enriched with these very same nutrient salts, creating a hydroponic nutrient solution that is perfectly balanced. Also, very little water is lost to evaporation in a hydroponic system, making hydroponics very useful in drought stricken areas.

‘Scientists can use hydroponics to test how different nutrients affect a plant. With hydroponics, a scientist can measure exactly how much nutrients the plant is getting and can give the plant a deficiency or overabundance of a certain macro or micronutrient and determine precisely how it affects the plant’s growth.’


* 4 Plastic storage totes

* Regular fish aquarium air pump

* Air stones

* Long pipes

* Long grain brown rice

* Deionised water

* Urea solution [ (NH2)2CO] (aq)

* Ammonium Nitrate solution [NH4NO3] (aq)

* Beakers ( 500ml)

* Dual spectrum lights

* 3, 10 and 50 ml pipettes

* Litmus Paper

* 2L soda bottles

Method 1: Making Nutrition Solution- Urea-Ammonium Nitrate

Composition (Weight by % Nitrogen present in solution)

%N Present in solution:




Ammonium Nitrate (Weight %):




Urea (Weight %):




Water (Weight %):




To calculate how much nutrient solution will be required:

This recipe makes 1000 litres of solution and consists of two parts concentrated in 10-Liter bottles. – ( Proposed by Dr. Alan Cooper for a typical hydroponic system.)

10-Liter bottles will be hard to find, therefore I will alter the recipe to fit in 2-Liter soda bottles by dividing all the ingredients by five. Since this uses one-fifth the chemicals of the original, it only makes 200 L of solution.


* 20 plants (per tested concentration of Nitrogen) x 30 (no of days to conduct experiment)= 600 plant. Days.

* 200L / 600 plant. Days = 0.3333 L/plant. Day

* Therefore I will use a standard volume of 330ml per solution per each concentration of Nitrogen.

1., I will measure 40%( 132ml) of Ammonia nitrate using different measured pipettes (to ensure maximum accuracy) and repeat for 30% (99ml) of water and urea then mix solutions in a 500ml beaker. The solution should then be left to cool ( pH of the solution will also be noted at this point).

2., This method will be repeated for different concentrations (%) of Nitrogen as follows:

Ammonium Nitrate (ml)

Urea (ml)

Water (ml)










3. The forth storage tote will be used as a control and therefore will not contain any nutrient solution but only deionised water.

Method 2: Making the medium

1. Small holes will be pierced at the bottom of all 4 storage totes. Pipes should be able to fit tightly with a mesh without causing leaking.

2. All four pipes will be connected to an individual fish pump.( This will ensure that each medium will receive the same amount of oxygen)

3. Two bigger holes will be made at the top of the seals of the storage totes. (This is were the flower pots will be placed. They should contain holes bellow them to allow roots to grow through them). 2 pots will be used per tested solution to allow a repeat of the experiment in order to measure average growth in one medium.

4. An air stone can also be placed in each storage tote.

5. The storage tote should be filled with the nutrient solution.

6. A dual spectrum light ( desk lamp type) will be placed over the medium.

Method 3: Preparation of Rice (Germination)

1. Rinse 1 cup brown rice several times until the water becomes clear.

2. Place the rice in a bowl and cover well with filtered water.

3. Let it stand for 12 hours.

4. Pour rice into a strainer and rinse well.

5. Set the strainer over a bowl to drain out of direct sunlight. Cover with a clean dishtowel.

6. Every 12 hours, rinse the rice well.

7. After 2 days check to see if there are sprouts.

8. When the rice sprouts and a true leaf is evident, transfer them to the pots in the hypothermic medium.

Influential Factors:


– Only deionised water will be used as tap water contains other ions that may contaminate the experiment.

– The medium will be stored at room temperature.

– The same type of dual spectrum light will be used for all plants. This will also provide additional but equal amounts of heat.

– The acidity of each solution should be on an average of 7 – 7.5 an will be tested for.

– Long grain brown rice has to be used to germinate the seed as white/ wild rice are dead and therefore unable to sprout.


– In this experiment the only variable factor will be the concentration (in this case %) of Nitrogen

Risk Assessment (Safety):

Hazard Identification

Health effects- Urea

– Inhalation:

Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath. May be absorbed into the bloodstream with symptoms similar to ingestion.


Causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. May also cause headache, confusion and electrolyte depletion.

Skin Contact:

Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain.

Eye Contact:

Causes irritation, redness, and pain.

Chronic Exposure:

A study of 67 workers in an environment with high airborne concentrations of urea found a high incidence of protein metabolism disturbances, moderate emphysema, and chronic weight loss.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:

Supersensitive individuals with skin or eye problems, kidney impairment or asthmatic condition should have physician’s approval before exposure to urea dust.

Health effects- Ammonium Nitrate

– Inhalation:

May cause irritation to the respiratory tract; symptoms may include coughing, sore throat, and shortness of breath. At high temperatures, exposure to toxic nitrogen oxides decomposition products can quickly cause acute respiratory problems. Inhalation of large amounts causes systemic acidosis and abnormal hemoglobin.


Large oral doses of nitrates may cause dizziness, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weakness, convulsions, and collapse. Harmful if swallowed. May cause methemoglobinemia resulting in cyanosis.

Skin Contact:

Causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain.

Eye Contact:

Causes irritation, redness, and pain.

Chronic Exposure:

Small repeated oral doses of nitrates may cause weakness, depression, headache, and mental impairment.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:

No information found.

Safety Precautions:

Ammonium Nitrate

– Keep from contact with clothing and other combustible materials.

Do not store near combustible materials.

Store in a tightly closed container.

Avoid breathing dust.

Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing. (Wearing protective gloves and goggles.)

Remove and wash contaminated clothing promptly.

Use only with adequate ventilation.

Wash thoroughly after handling.


– Avoid breathing dust.

Keep container closed.

Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing. (Wearing protective gloves and goggles.)

Use only with adequate ventilation.

Wash thoroughly after handling.

Handling and Storage:

Store solution preferably below 30C


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