Soaking it all up! How a newly-engineered material could help farmers save water

Every year more than 70 per cent of our planet’s available fresh water is used by the agricultural sector. In Australia, agriculture accounts for almost 60 per cent of total water extractions annually.

A new study is aiming to support the agricultural sector to become more sustainable with its water usage. The work has resulted in a novel superabsorbent polymer being engineered using nanocellulose, which is generally produced from wood pulp.

The breakthrough was achieved by controlling the drying rate of the nanocellulose enabling the team to engineer the necessary superabsorbent structure.

This hydro-retentor material could be used on farms to create water reservoirs, which would preserve soil moisture and only supply water to plants as needed.

It’s green, 100 per cent biodegradable, and could potentially save farmers thousands of tonnes of water each year, with the added benefit of helping to increase crop yields and ultimately revenue.

Source - BioPRIA PALS Newsletter