Characterization of a κ-Carrageenan Hydrogel and its Evaluation as a Coating Material for Fertilizers


A novel carrageenan-based hydrogel (CBH) was developed via cross-linking and ion interaction methods to obtain a coating for NPK fertilizer grains. Attenuated total reflectance–Fourier transform infrared analysis (ATR–FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), texture profile analysis (TPA), rheological study, and swelling kinetics were used to characterize the physicochemical properties of the CBH. To test the slow-release behavior of the coated fertilizer and the adequate provision of nutrients for plants, the leaching rates of N, P, and K were determined through soil column experiments, and plant growth indicators were measured in greenhouse experiments in a yellow potato crop (Solanum phureja). The results showed that CBH is a material with homogeneous appearance, porous structure, similar chemical structure to κ-carrageenan, and resistance and low deformation at the fracture point. The swelling behavior experiments showed a maximum increase in thickness of 74% by water absorption, with osmolality being an important factor controlling the entry of water into the CBH. Wash experiments in soil columns showed that the noncoated granules released 12 and 18% less N–NH4+ and K+ than the noncoated fertilizer, both after 90 mm of accumulated precipitation. Less than 0.1% of P–PO4−3 was lost in both treatments. No significant differences were observed in any of the growth plant and quality indicator variables between the plants grown with coated and noncoated fertilizer.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Carlos Nústez for providing access to the greenhouse facility at National University. This work was carried out with the support of the Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación de la República de Colombia (Grant No. 1202-669-45888) and Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as potential conflicts of interest. All data analyzed during this study are included in this article supplementary information files.

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Correspondence to Johanna Santamaría Vanegas.

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Santamaría Vanegas, J., Rozo Torres, G. & Barreto Campos, B. Characterization of a κ-Carrageenan Hydrogel and its Evaluation as a Coating Material for Fertilizers. J Polym Environ 27, 774–783 (2019).

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  • Carrageenan
  • Coated fertilizers
  • Hydropolymers
  • Solanum phureja