Agricultural Use of Hydrocolloids

Colloids are mixtures where the dispersing medium is a solid phase and the dispersed phase is liquid. A colloid is a substance microscopically dispersed throughout another substance. Colloid has been derived from the Greek word ‘kolla’ meaning glue.

Hydrocolloids wherein the colloid particles are hydrophilic polymers dispersed in water. The foremost reason behind the use of hydrocolloids is very small particle size with a correspondingly large surface area per unit mass. These act as excellent soil conditioners due their high water holding capacity. These water soluble polymers are used as agricultural products in arid regions with water scarcity. When mixed with soil these act as super absorbing polymers absorbing and retaining the free water available for a longer period of time.

Alsta Hydrogel, is a hydrocolloid meticulously designed for foliages growing in parched zones. It has high water retention capacity. Its application in the soil increases the water withholding characteristics by nearly 402%, leaving an impact for several years. We are all well aware of the fact that water is vital to the existence of the plants and the impacts of water stress on plants.

One of the major factors causing water stress in plants is when the water supply to their roots becomes limited or the transpiration rate viz., the rate at which plants lose out water via leaves become intense. Water stress is primarily caused by the water deficit which is either due to drought conditions or high soil salinity. Alsta Hydrogel acts as a super adsorbent polymer and its particles can be taken as “mini-water reservoirs” in soil and in severe conditions water from these reservoirs can be used upon the root demand through osmotic pressure. It acts as a control release system by favouring the uptake of some nutrient elements, holding them tightly and delaying their dissolution. It can also be used as retaining material in the form of a seed additive, seed coating, root dips and for immobilizing plant growth regulator or protecting agents for controlled release.

Besides being an excellent super absorbent polymer, hydrogel agriculture has several other benefits such as reducing evaporation rate, improving physical properties of the soil by enhancing aeration, reducing compaction tendency, erosion and water runoff, enhancing plant performance specially in arid areas. It also prevents dehydration of the seedlings and decreases the plant mortality rate by reducing the transplanting shock. It finds a large scale application in farming where it increases soil aeration enhancing germination and development of roots. When mixed with fertilizers, it can provide fertile nutrients to the roots for a longer period. Hence accelerating plant and crop growth. It may be mixed dry into fertilizer preparations. Alsta Hydrogel reduces fertilizer (NPK) leaching.

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