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Title: A field study on using soybean waste-derived superabsorbent hydrogel to enhance growth of vegetables
Authors: Zhu, Jingling
Suhaimi, Fadhlina
Lim, Jing Ying
Gao, Zhengyang
Swarup, Sanjay
Loh, Chiang Shiong
Li, Jun
Ong, Choon Nam
Tan, Wee Kee
Keywords: Social sciences::Geography
Issue Date: 2022
Source: Zhu, J., Suhaimi, F., Lim, J. Y., Gao, Z., Swarup, S., Loh, C. S., Li, J., Ong, C. N. & Tan, W. K. (2022). A field study on using soybean waste-derived superabsorbent hydrogel to enhance growth of vegetables. Science of the Total Environment, 851(Part 1), 158141-.
Project: NRF-CRP 16-2015-04
Journal: Science of the Total Environment 
Abstract: Food security is critical and has become a global concern with many of our basic food crops growing in areas with high drought risk. To improve soil water holding capacity, hydrogels are a promising solution. However, the current ones are mostly derived from petroleum products and are environmental unsustainable. In this study, the main objective is to determine if bio-based hydrogel can help in the growth of leafy vegetables while minimizing water use under field conditions. To achieve this, we developed an okara-derived hydrogel (Ok-PAA; OP) from by-products of bean curd and soybean milk production. We incorporated OP into soil and assessed the growth performance of leafy vegetables. We observed that vegetables grown with 0.2% (w/v) OP in soil with a watering frequency of 7 times per week resulted in >60 % and 35 % yield increase for the common Asian leafy vegetables, choy sum (CS) and pak choi (PC), respectively, as compared to without hydrogel supplementation. Both vegetables produced larger leaf areas (20-40 % increment) in the presence of the hydrogel as compared to those without. In addition, with OP amendment, the irrigation water use efficiency improved >60 % and 30 % for CS and PC, respectively. It is estimated that with the use of the hydrogel, a reduction in watering frequency from 21 times to 7 times per week could be achieved, and based on a per hectare estimation, this would result in 196,000 L of water saving per crop cycle. Statistical analysis and modelling further confirmed vegetables grown with 0.2 % (w/v) OP and with a watering frequency of 7 times per week showed the best growth performance and water use efficiency. Such a waste-to-resource approach offers a plant-based soil supplement for crop growers, contributes to waste valorization, and enhances the growth of plants especially under water-limited conditions.
ISSN: 0048-9697
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158141
Organisations: National University of Singapore
Research Centres: Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences and Engineering 
Rights: © 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: none
Fulltext Availability: No Fulltext
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