Spiked Soil vs. Miracle Gro: A Study by Louisiana Tech University

/Spiked Soil vs. Miracle Gro: A Study by Louisiana Tech University

A study by Morgan Thigpen, Robert Hane and Joshua Adams (School of Agricultural Sciences & Forestry, Louisiana Tech University).

Abstract

Finding new and more productive soils is a major part of growing quality plants. Spiked Soil created a series of soil amendments that produce quality plants quickly and organically. This study used bell pepper plants as a quick proxy for slower growing species, such as fruit trees and landscape plants. Two successive studies were implemented to analyze the productivity differences between Miracle Gro and Spiked Soil. The first study was used to analyze differences in nutrients, plant heights, amount of fruit, size of fruit and damage caused by whiteflies.

The second study was used to determine root density, plant heights, amount of fruit, fruit size and whitefly damage to compare to the first study. All of the data collected was used to determine which soil was more productive in regards to plant growth and pepper production.

Soil enhancements are key for plant growth because some soils do not contain the key nutrients required for not only a healthy looking plant, but a plant with stronger root structures, higher fruit productivity and resistance to diseases and insect damage.

Spiked Soil vs Miracle Gro

Methods

  • For both iterations, bell pepper plants were planted and grown for the same length of time with fertilizer applications occurring at the same intervals.
    • Half of the germinated plants were randomly assigned as controls and fertilized with Miracle Gro.
    • The remainder were planted with Spiked Soil products:
      • Use the Dirt Martini mix, add dirt around the root ball, press down, and then level out to the top of the root ball.
      • The Spiked Soil product, Another Round, is then applied 10-15 days after step 1. Continue this every 2-3 weeks.
      • Bloom Booze fertilizer is applied to the top of the soil during the flowering phase. Repeat this fertilizer treatment every 2-3 weeks.
  • Analysis of soil was conducted by the state to check nutrients.
  • Nutrient analysis was done for fruit and leaves.
  • Whitefly damage was visually analyzed. Then, a second study was set up to analyze root mass through WinRhizo, and further analyze whitefly damage through leaf scans of bell pepper plants.

Results

  • There were 748.7 ppm of nitrates in the control soil. Nitrate is the form of nitrogen that plants use to grow strong, healthy foliage and enhance chlorophyll production. (Figure 3)
  • There were low amounts of calcium, magnesium, pH, phosphorous, potassium and soluble salt, which contributes to the health of the cells and roots. (Figure 3)
  • Spiked Soil is high in calcium (535.14 ppm) and nitrates (420.9 ppm). Spiked Soil also has an acceptable amount of magnesium (130.92 ppm) and potassium (118.78 ppm). (Figure 3)
  • The root mass of the pepper plants grown in Miracle Gro was smaller as the roots were thin and short. The average length of the roots was 139.78 cm. Smaller roots caused problems with the absorption of water and nutrients. (Figure 4)
  • Due to the lack of root mass, 5 out of 10 of the pepper plants grown in the control soil did not survive under induced drought.
  • Plants grown in Spiked Soil products had longer and thicker roots. The average length of these roots was 160.21 cm, for 10 pepper plants. (Figure 4)

Spiked Soil vs Miracle Gro: Figure 3           Spiked Soil vs Miracle Gro: Figure 4

Discussion

  • Calcium is key for development of cell walls, which assist in disease resistance.
  • Magnesium contributes to chlorophyll production, while potassium supplements early growth, strength, water retention and disease/insect suppression.
  • Even with a heavy infestation of whiteflies, only honeydew could be seen on the Spiked Soil plants. Physical damage did not occur.
  • Root mass in the Spiked Soil plants was shown to be significantly denser than the controls.

Conclusion

  • The Spiked Soil products contained more balanced amounts of key nutrients compared to Miracle Gro.
  • Bell Pepper plants growing in Spiked Soil products were stronger, larger, more productive and more whitefly resistant. This was initiated by the high amount of key nutrients.
  • Roots in Spiked Soil plants were larger and denser, caused by the potassium. Potassium aides in plants’ nutrient and water absorption capabilities.
  • Spiked Soil is a highly productive product compared to Miracle Gro.