Gelponics is the name of the sustainable growth substrate for plants that we have developed as a more sustainable alternative to coir, rockwool and peat. It is a non-synthetic hydrogel formulation which does not use environmentally harmful synthetic polymers.
In this article, we will briefly explain the science behind how this type of formulation enhances plant growth.
What are non-synthetic hydrogel formulations?
Hydrogels comprise a hydrophilic, three-dimensional polymeric matrix capable of holding large quantities of water. Natural hydrogels are gels which occur naturally, whereas synthetic hydrogels are produced using synthetic polymers, such as polyamides and polyethene glycol.
Some examples of natural hydrogels include DNA-based hydrogels, hydrogels based on polymers obtained from low-molecular-weight biomolecules, polysaccharide-based hydrogels (such as alginate, cellulose & starch) and protein-based hydrogels.
How do non-synthetic hydrogel formulations enhance plant growth?
Much research has been completed on non-synthetic hydrogel formulations – especially regarding water retention. Recently published work by the World Bank states that water is a “critical input for agricultural production” and has an “important role in food security.”
However, competition for water sources is growing, thanks to climate change, rapid population growth and urbanisation, with early estimates believing that agricultural production will need to grow by 70% by 2050. Currently (2023), agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater use globally (on average). This figure must increase to meet future demand, especially in water-stressed regions.
This is where non-synthetic hydrogels, like Gelponics Granules, Plugs and Sheets, come in. They are super absorbent and can hold water and plant nutrients – slowly releasing what is needed when the plant roots dry out. Using Gelponics products as your growth media will increase your water usage efficiency, decrease irrigation costs, and increase plant yield and quality.
The science behind non-synthetic hydrogel formulations
The chemical properties of non-synthetic hydrogel formulations include:
- A high water absorption capacity
- High durability and stability during swelling and water storage
- High biodegradability and biocompatibility
- High performance over a wide temperature range
This means that when water comes into contact with the hydrogel formulation, the water penetrates the hydrogel system and binds to the polymer chain with hydrogen bonding. Some hydrogels can absorb up to 1500 times their dry weight of water in this process, meaning they then act as a small reservoir. When the area surrounding the root zone begins to dry up, the hydrogel can gradually release up to 95% of the stored water, offering plants a higher water uptake and water use efficiency.
The benefits of using a non-synthetic hydrogel formulation for crop growth include:
- Increase in the absorption and retention rate of water
- Improvement of soil fertiliser performance
- Reduction in drought stress on soil
- Enhancement of fertiliser availability
As you can see, the science behind our Gelponics products helps simplify your plant management process while reducing operational complexity. We can also tailor our product to ensure it provides you with the exact nutrients and water required for the optimised growth of your crop.
If you would like to learn more about any of our non-synthetic hydrogel formulation products or the science behind them, please get in touch with us at email@example.com or call us on 07867502247.