Influence of water-absorbing polymers on grain crop yield, disease incidence, and end-use quality


  • Gayane Avagyan
  • Sevak Daveyan
  • Arevik Eloyan
  • Samvel Sahakyan
  • Armen Asatryan
  • Hamlet Martirosyan



Background: Climate change is reshaping global weather patterns, presenting significant challenges for rain-fed agricultural regions that rely heavily on seasonal rainfall for crop irrigation. The increasing risk of droughts and water scarcity in arid and semi-arid regions underscores the critical role of water-absorbing polymers in agriculture, as they significantly enhance water retention and improve plant nutrient uptake. Grain production mainly relies on rainfall, and soil moisture content significantly affects both the quantity and quality of the harvest.

Objective: This study aims to develop strategies for enhancing the productivity and grain yield of cereal crops in rain-fed agricultural conditions by utilizing environmentally safe hydrogel polymers of Armenian origin. Additionally, it seeks to evaluate the effects of these hydrogels on the qualitative indicators of grain as a functional food, and assess  their impact on the incidence of fungal diseases and the associated risks.

Methods: This study, conducted during 2022 and 2023, involved field experiments on winter wheat and spring barley. Seven variants, each replicated three times, were established to assess the impact of different doses of water-absorbing polymers (Aquasource at 50, 100, and 150 kg ha⁻¹, and Van at 500, 1000, and 1500 kg ha⁻¹) on grain crop productivity. Each variant, including a control where no polymers were used, was allocated a 30 m² area with 0.5 m spacing between plots.

Results: The productivity analysis revealed a significant impact of water-absorbing polymers on the morphological characteristics and overall yield of winter wheat and spring barley. The most effective doses under rain-fed conditions were 100 kg ha-1 of Aquasource and 1000 kg ha-1 of Van. Chemical analysis of wheat grains revealed that using these polymers increased the concentrations of carbohydrates, proteins, and gluten, thereby enhancing the nutritional value and functionality of the grains. However, polymer applications were associated with increased Fusarium crown rot incidence, with higher disease occurrence observed in polymer-utilizing plots compared to the control. Additionally, polymer applications did not significantly influence the development of Fusarium head blight, largely due to its dependence on climatic conditions.

Conclusion: The use of Aquasource and Van polymers enhances the efficiency indicators of the structural elements of spikes in winter wheat and spring barley. This promotes grain yield and improves grain quality by increasing the concentrations of protein, gluten, and carbohydrates in the grains, thereby enhancing their end-use quality as functional foods. Polymer applications were associated with an increased incidence of Fusarium crown rot, but they did not significantly influence the development of Fusarium head blight.

Keywords: polymer, winter wheat, spring barley, productivity, functional food, disease.





Research Articles