InnoGel (start May 2018) is a 3-years project that aims to develop multifunctional biodegradable hydrogels that protect, hydrate and help newly germinated seedlings to root, without the need for deep planting; contribute to the soil’s fertility in terms of nutrients and moisture in an eco-compatible way; act as a nutritive and protective coating for the seeds. Human life is highly dependent on food that, in turn, is strongly related to agriculture. A sustainable agricultural production is a fundamental concept, since it would be highly desirable that the human race will not, damaging the natural resources that are used to feed nowadays the population, hamper the possibility for its future offsprings to produce their food. The InnoGel project, through the development of super-adsorbent hydrogels, addresses many of the important elements that have been identified in sustainable agriculture by making a more efficient use of natural resources and with minimal impact on the environment.
The first outcome of the InnoGel project will be the production of optimised biodegradable superabsorbent hydrogels (SAHs, charged with nutrients/microorganisms). The SAHs will be isolated in a dry state by using low cost and readily available starting materials and used to coat seeds or mixed to the soil in proximity of the plant roots, acting as water storage, nutrient reserve and soil conditioning systems. The second important Project’s foreground will be the production of SAHs-coated seeds that will be seeded on no-tilled soils testing no-tillage drillers and surface seeding systems. A related and relevant outcome from the economic and societal point of view, will be the establishment of a start-up able to bring close to the market the project achievements and maximise their industrial exploitation.
University of Padova DiSC – Department of Chemical Sciences DAFNAE - Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment ICMATE-CNR - Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry and Energy Technologies