In the UK alone, only 5% of water use happens at home, with 5% used by businesses to create products and services, and the rest is used in agriculture.
This shows that one of the most critical resources in agriculture is water. It is also becoming more scarce as we consume around 4 trillion cubic metres of fresh water a year. The global population will only continue to grow, threatening (placing further pressures on) food production (processes).
Climate change is another of the biggest threats to our food supply chain, with the amount of water available for food production becoming scarcer thanks to drought.
All this has meant a lot of time and effort spent researching and creating new materials to help with water management and preserving the food chain for the long term. One of the most popular inventions for use in agriculture has been the creation of biodegradable hydrogels.
What are hydrogels?
Hydrogels are water-absorbing polymers that have been used for scientific purposes for many years but were only introduced to agriculture in the early 1980s. The benefit of using them for agriculture is that they can absorb a large amount of water, up to 100 times their dry weight, without dissolving. This is why they are commonly known as superabsorbent polymers (SAP).
The natural polymers that can form hydrogels include proteins such as collagen and gelatin, and polysaccharides like agarose and alginate. Hydrogels are chains of a single polymer molecule linked together to make one giant molecule.
The problem with hydrogels in the past has been that they are acrylate-based products, meaning they are non-biodegradable. Concerns have been raised about using them for applications related to human consumption, as they could be toxic. This has led to some hydrogels being labelled as potential soil pollutants.
What is Gelponics?
Here at Gelponics, we have created a unique range of biodegradable and sustainable gel formulations made from low-carbon products that are sustainable, and which do not use environmentally harmful synthetic ingredients.
This makes them an excellent replacement for the two most common types of substrate used in agriculture:
- Peat – is likely to be banned in the UK and Europe by 2030.
- Stone wool – is not a sustainable option, as it has a very high carbon footprint.
Our Gelponics system includes a graphene-based sensor that allows the release of nutrients for plants’ optimal growth, increasing the soil’s nutrient and water retention capabilities.
Gelponics aim to give everyone access to affordable and sustainable food production. Our hydrogel-based product can offer positive plant and seed protection results without compromising on nutrient loss, soil fertility or water consumption.
If you have any questions regarding our work or want to collaborate with us, please get in touch with us via phone at 07867 502247 or email us at email@example.com