News and knowhow for farmers

Water saving crystals that can enable plants survive longer in dry conditions

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Bell Industries Limited sales agronomist, Peter Chomba- Mt. Kenya region showing BELSAP during a past farmers’ field day. Photo: Zablon Oyugi.

Farmers, especially in water-stressed areas growing various types of crops such as horticulture and field crops, forest and fruit trees, potted plants and flowers can now increase chances of survival of the plants using water-saving crystals that help regulate soil nutrients and moisture utilisation hence reducing any loss.

The crystals known as BELSAP sold in the country by Bell Industries Limited in different quantities are granules in dry form and turns into a gel when water is added to it (hydrated). This makes it retain enough water for a longer period for plant use instead of it (water) getting drained and wasted away.

“The crystals can be applied both in broadcast or row applications. With the former system, the crystals are evenly spread on top of the soil and work down to a depth of 5-20cm depending on the crop whlile with the later system, the crystals are placed in the seed slot along with the seed or seedling.,” said Peter Chomba, Bell Industries sales agronomist.

Fertilisers can also be applied at the same time and it will have no bad effects. The crystals absorb the fertiliser and release it slowly optimising the duration that the fertiliser is available to the plant.

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How BELSAP works

Once BELSAP is applied and incorporated into the soil, on watering or irrigating, the crystals absorb water and swell rapidly.

Wahen the soil dries up and reaches 50 per cent field capacity, the crystals are engineered to release moisture which triggers the roots to grow to the new found moisture source provided by the presence of the hydrogels (saturated crystals).

The process promotes increased root mass resulting into larger plants and increased crop yield.

When the water is taken up by the plant, the particle shrinks and becomes ready for the process to reoccur.

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Areas of application

BELSAP is used in nurseries, greenhouses, crop fields, forestry, landscape and pastures on a wide range of crops including cereals, vegetables, flowers, tea, coffee, tobacco, fruit trees and bananas in both rain-fed and irrigation agriculture.

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Application rates

This depends on crop, climate and soil condition. For instance higher rates I used on light soils and lower rate on heavy soils.

When transplanting tree or vegetable crops, one I required to dig a hole and heap backfill soil which is later thoroughly mixed with BELSAP. A half of the mixture is to be placed in the bottom of the planting hole. The seedling should then be planted with the roots covered with second half of the backfill soil.

BELSAP is non-tonic and environmentally friendly.

“This product has no residual toxity in the soil as it biodegrades into base components parts of amonia, carbon dioxide and water and due to its potassium base structure, BELSAP does not increase salinity levels in the soil,” said Chomba.

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