Chemestry- Examination of soil in the Goitzsche

members of the project:
  • Kristin Ameling
  • Claudia Klein
  • Claudia Bergemann
  • Niklas Examitzki
leader of the project:
Miss Ludwig-Müller

Common facts
Here we are!
We are members of the working group “Soil“. Every second Thursday we meet to work on our project for two hours. 
We spend much time to get our soil samples. Our research territory is situated about 15 to 20 minutes from our school. For our experiments we took soil samples from the new developped shore line of the “Goitzsche“. To compare our samples we also examine a longer recultivated area and our schoolyard.

Here are those areas.

    Why do we examine soil?
    Soil is an decisive environmental factor for all living beings. Here the destruents work and decompose the organic substances.
    With our examinations we wanted to find out which soil qualities existe in our research territory.
    Here you can see us getting our soil samples. 
    Looking strange a lot of people paid attention to our team.
    Afterwards we examined the soil samples in our chemistry room. 
    Here it was simple to determine the pH-factor.
  • Photogallery

2. The importance of the soil
The soil forms an eco-system with water, air and organisms. Besides it is a very important part of this eco-system. On the one hand the soil serves to store water in the hydrological cycle. This depends on the volume of the pores in the soil. On the other hand it is the basis for the food cycle. The humus in the upper soil layer en-courages the growing of plants which are the beginning of the food chain. Furthermore the micro-organisms in the soil decompose the organic substances into anorganic substances. So the humus is slowly transformed.Various micro-organisms live in the soil and decompose it first of all like woodlice, earthworms, centipedes, flylarvas and snails and there are mites which continue the decomposition. Mushrooms and bacteries are organisms living in the soil that as well support this process. So the soil is part of the production process of raw materials and of food for Man
3. Flora and Fauna

    In our territory we want to analyze the Goitzsche there you can find a lot of different kinds of plants. There are small plants but also tall trees. We find for example red oaktrees, dandelions, poplars, blackberrybushes, daisys, rowanberrytrees, birches, limetrees, yarrows and many more different kinds of shrubs, bushes, trees, flowers and mushrooms on and near the “Butterflymeadow”. In the area around you can find different kinds of softwood for example pines and blue spruces.

    As the Goitzsche is a nature reserve created by Man trees and bigger bushes have been planted. Many different plants have settled down occasionally there over the years. The area Goitzsche is not suitable for all kinds of plants because there does not exist so much topsoil. That’s why the soil only contains a few nutrients which only seem to be positive for the growing of softwood.


    On the expeditions through our research territory we paid spezial attention to the fauna. As far as we started our project in autumn some kinds of animals already hid in the ground to protect against the winter. Nevertheless we found thick earthworms when we took soil samples. Besides hard working ants crossed our way and a brown grasshopper who was circa 18 mm long jumped along the “Butterflymeadow” we wanted to analyze. We found a dead German wasp in between blackberrybushes. We could not find other animals in autumn and so we started our examinations in spring again.

    On our first expedition we saw a group of firebugs. There we noticed that firebugs often stay near lime-trees. Besides we met a colony of leatherbugs that only live on leafsaps on the edge of the meadow. This spring there was an extraordinary high number of “Faltenwespen” that’s why we concluded that there had to be a wasps’ nest  near the meadow. Unfortunately we could not find and examine it. The gardenbumblebees with their bodylong proboscis were the most fascinating insects. They sucked the nectar deep in the dandelionblossoms. Dute to the warm weather ordinary mosquitos attacted us. These femal mosquitos are able to suck blood twice as much as their weight in two or three minutes. Last but not least we wanted to say something about the insects the meadow’s name is derived from. So we could meet butterflies as well as peacooks and cabbages white butterflies.

4. Experimental evaluation 
Experiments - survey
4.1 Content of humus

4.2 Determination of lime in the soil

4.3 pH-factor

4.1Content of humus

4.1.1 Accomplishment

We took something of the whole soil we got from the Goitzsche and weighed the single soil samples (about 15 g). Afterwards we held the samples being in a ladle in the flame of a burner and burned them. Now the heated soil samples had to cool down.
We weighed the soil samples again and got the following findings (look at the table). With the help of these results we could calculate the content of humus in the soil. Here are our results: (look at the table)

Soil can be classified by its content of humus.

content of humus loss of quantity
less humus less then 1 %
scanty humic 1 until 2 %
moderate humic 2 until 4 %
very humic 4 until 10 %
rich oh humic 10 until 15 %
partly marshy 15 until 30 %
like peat more then 30 %

4.1.2 Evaluation

Some soil samples glowed and so the whole room was full of smoke. So we concluded that the soil had to contain coal.

(experiments - survey)

4.2 Determination of lime in the soil

4.2.1 Necessary preparation
  •  about 10 g per soil sample
  •  10 % hydrochloric acid
  •  petri-bowls 
  •  drip pipette

4.2.2 Carrying out

Take 10 g of the soil sample and put it on the bowl.
Now dribble some drops of hydrochloric acid on it and watch hat happens. With the help of the observations you can estimate the lime percentage in the sample. Do this again with the other samples.

Lime(CaCO3 in the soil) reaction
under 1 % no flaring up
1% to 2% poor flaring up
3% to 4% short, strong flaring up
uver 4%  strong lasting flaring up

4.2.3 Results
places of the samples reaction lime in the soil
flower bed - „Rondell“(schoolyard 2) short strong flaring up about 3%
bed near the teacher parking place poor flaring up about 2%
plane tree at House I
stadium ? sample 1
(upper bank)
low flaring up  about 1%
stadium ? sample 2
(lower bank)
low flaring up about 1%
stadium ? sample 3
(shore line)
low flaring up about 1%
old paper factory low flaring up about 1%
wooden pillar low flaring up about 1%
near small plants low flaring up about 1%

(experiments - survey)

4.3 pH-factor

You can define the pH-factor as a negativ deda logarithm of the hydroniumion concentration. The pH-factor of a substance indicates if it contains a high or low quantity of hydroxylions and hydroniumions. To measure the pH-factor you have to use indicators. You distinguish between basic, neutral and acid. The measurements range from 0 to 14. 
distinguish very acid  weak acid neutral weak basic strong basic
pH-factor 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

The soil pH-factor is about 7 and the upper limit is 10. There are different indicators to deter- mine such a measurement ; for example:

  • Thymol blue ranges from 1,2 to 2,8 -colour changes from red to yellow
  • Citmus ranges from 5,8 to 8,0 - colour changes from red to blueviolett
  • Brominethymol blue ranges from 6,0 to 7,6 -colour changes from yellow to blue

Universal indicators are used to determine the pH-factor in a wider range. These are mixtures of different indicators.
A lot of plants adapted to the soil acidity. Plants with only a special range of soil acidity are called “Zeigerpflanzen“(show the soil acidity).

  • acid soil  - heather, black alder, azalea
  • basic soil  - berberize, bellflower, black pine, larch
  • more neutral - oak, maple-tree
Because of erosion acid soil has a pH-factor below 6,5. It is partly very poor of nutrients and it is not loose. This soil structure influences the activity of microorganisms. 
Alkaline soil  has a pH-factor of about 7, was  a humus layer on hardly changed bedrock. The limecontent encourages the loose soil structure and the good soilrentication.That’s why there live several soil organisms.
Neutral soil has a pH-factor between 6,5 and 7,4. Here you can find optimal conditions for a huge number of soil organisms. 

(experiments - survey)



1. Common facts
2. The importance of the soil
3. Flora and Fauna
4. Experimental evaluation

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