Effects of hydrogel amendment on water storage of sandy loam and loam soils and seedling growth of barley, wheat and chickpea

https://doi.org/10.17221/4059-PSECitation:Akhter J., Mahmood K., Malik K.A., Mardan A., Ahmad M., Iqbal M.M. (2004): Effects of hydrogel amendment on water storage of sandy loam and loam soils and seedling growth of barley, wheat and chickpea. Plant Soil Environ., 50: 463-469.
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The hydrogel amendments may improve seedling growth and establishment by increasing water retention capacity of soils and regulating the plants available water supplies, particularly under arid environments. The effects of different levels of a locally prepared hydrogel were studied on the moisture properties of sandy loam and loam soils (fine-loamy, mixed, hyperthermic Typic Haplargids, USDA, Luvic Yermosol, FAO) and on growth response of three plant species, viz. barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.). Water absorption by gel was rapid and highest in distilled water and was inhibited by an increase in water salinity. The addition of 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3% hydrogel increased the moisture retention (θr) at field capacity linearly (r = 0.988) and thus the amount of plant available water significantly in both sandy loam and loam soils compared to the untreated soils. Seed germination of wheat and barley was not affected but seedling growth of both species was improved by the gel amendment. In loam soil, seed germination of chickpea was higher with 0.2% gel and seedling growth increased with increase in gel level compared with control conditions. The hydrogel amendment caused a delay by 4–5 days in wilting of seedlings grown in both soils compared with control conditions. The hydrogel amendment was effective in improving soil moisture availability and thus increased plant establishment. However, the varied responses of plant species in sandy loam and loam soils warrant further studies on the behaviour of different soil types with gel amendments.
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