a SECOND year student from Mountmellick Community School is set to fly the flag for Laois with pride in Dublin this week as she takes part in the Young Scientists of the Year Comptition with findings that organic chicken manure is great for vegetables.
Lorraine Smith from Limetree just outside Mountmellick has spent the last year developing her organic fertiliser project, with the help of her science teacher, Louise Gallagher. She has already won the top prize at the regional SciFest@ITCarlow event held in April of last year, for her investigation into the effectiveness of farmyard manures on the growth of peas. With that experience Lorraine is hopeful that her project will do well later this week. “I’m hoping to get a prize, but it is difficult because there are a lot of projects entered,” she told the Leinster Express.
Lorraine is the only student from a Laois school that will be attending the annual science competition. Her project is entered into the biological and ecological category.
The Mountmellick student got the idea for her project from the increasing number of people, including her own family, interested in growing their own vegetables.
“I found that a growing amount of people were buying organic vegetables or wanted to grow their own food organically. I firstly tested three different types of manure - poultry, donkey and cow - to see which was the best. I measured every three days for 21 days to see which plant grew the best,” she said.
Lorraine discovered that the poultry manure worked the best. The next stage of the project was to see if she could make pellets for the manure, so she planted 10 peas in dry and wet manure to see which was the most effective.
Having found little difference between the wet and dry manure, Lorraine decided to make dried pellets. Teacher, Ms Gallagher said that the product is totally organic.
“It’s even packaged in paper bags, so it is totally an environmentally friendly product,” she said.
“It’s a massive achievement to get to the RDS as only 500 projects are chosen from the 1,700 that apply. Lorraine was the only student in Laois to get through.”
Ms Gallagher praised Lorraine for her hard work.
“She has been developing it over the last year, but she was working all over the Christmas holidays putting together a poster and a report on her findings,” she said.
Lorraine is really excited heading to Dublin for the next few days and is looking forward to a visit from her second year friends on Thursday, and her family later in the week.