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Water-Filled Capsules by Kerala KVK to Conserve Soil Moisture

Hydrogel capsules are available to farmers.

Shipra Singh
Hydrogel capsules (Image source: Business Line)
Hydrogel capsules (Image source: Business Line)

You may have heard, seen, and even taken capsules as health supplements or medicines. But ever seen capsules filled with water? This is not for you, but for your soil to help it retain enough moisture for healthy crop. These water-filled capsules, called Hydrogels, are developed by KVK (Krishi Vigyan Kendra) in Palakkad, Kerala. These capsules are fast catching up with the farming community.  

The popularity of the capsules can be gauged by the fact that the KVK sold about 3-4 lakh capsules since the last one year.  

As per a statement by the Technical Officer of KVK Palakka, VP James, there have been bulk purchases by several farming communities and by the Idukki Cardamom Growers Cooperative Society.  

The capsules were developed by the KVK two years back, but they are coming into the limelight only now. One of the major reasons for the delay in their popularity is the lack of widespread marketing and promotion, most of which was limited only to Krishi Bhavans.  

The demonstration done in the expo at VAIGA (Value Addition for Income Generation in Agriculture) organized by the State Agriculture Department in Thrissur gave the capsules their much-deserved attention.  

According to James, these water-enriched capsules are the efforts put in by the late Assistant Professor of the KVK, KN Sunil. He had done research in encapsulating the gel in capsules and in making them an eco-friendly product.  

About the Hydrogel technology 

Hydrogel technology is basically developed by IARI (Indian Agricultural Research Institute), New Delhi. The gel has a base of biodegradable starch. It has a capacity to hold water 400 times to its weight. When soil moisture reduces, the gel releases water in the soil and helps to replenish soil with enough moisture.  

Where is the capsule placed? 

The capsule is to be placed at the plant’s root zone, 5.6 meters below the soil surface. When the soil starts to get dry, the capsule releases water and makes it moist once again.  

This reduces the number and frequency of irrigation required for a particular crop. These Hydrogels can easily stay in the soil for three months after placement in soil.  

Cost of capsules  

Cost of one capsule is Rs. 3.  

Number of capsules required  

Vegetables grown in poly bags or pots require 4 capsules. Arecanut and bananas require 8-10 capsules per plant. Nutmeg and coconut require 20 capsules.  

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