How Polymer Sealants Could Cut Irrigation Water Losses and Soil Degradation

Posted on 8/19/2021 2:25:17 PM By ASC

The loss of irrigation water, which accounts for about 70% of freshwater usage globally, and the degradation of soil and water that occurs in the process, is becoming a major issue in global agriculture. In response, studies carried out by Colorado State University in collaboration with Environmental Engineering Professor Tim Gates of Pakistan, have determined that LAPAM polymer provides temporary but economical relief in reducing water loss through permeation, as well as protecting both the soil and the lost water from degradation.

The study team reports that testing two canals in Pakistan and Colorado with differing challenges and conditions showed that if used as a soil tube sealant in global soil canals, around 95% of which are currently open and lose 15 to 70% to permeation, linear anionic polyacrylamide (LAPAM) brought about a reduction of 69 to 100% in water permeation wastage levels.

According to the study team, the polymer precipitates clay particles into the water to create a thin clay barrier. Each application of LAPAM will function for a single rain season as a canal liner, or for recharging natural underground reservoirs during particularly wet seasons.

The studies showed that the polymer would also reduce the impact on the soil and the lost water, and prevent possible results of this happening. According to the team, permeation can lead to mobilization and transportation of pesticides and fertilizers which end up in streams and rivers, so degrading the water.  By increasing the water table, the permeated water can also be lost to evaporation and transpiration by plants, and can also degrade the soil by leaving salts behind in it.