Dr. Vipul Patel, Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, RK University, has been awarded the prestigious “Trend Setter” Award by Gujarat Innovation Society for out-of-the-box thinking in innovation of Diaper Technology for Agriculture. This innovation involves the use of solid hydrogelling system in field of agriculture for reduction in need of water and fertilizer.
For more on Gujarat Innovation Society, visit http://www.gisindia.org.in/about.html .
Dr. Patel has earlier also received a research grant from GUJCOST.
About Trend Setter Award
Nominee for this category must be someone who has shown out of the box thinking and tread on a path less travelled upon and that has made all the difference. Someone who has, with his innovative and unique initiatives and ideas, opened up newer avenues, beneficial to the Society at large, thereby setting a new trend worthy to be followed.
Background of Invention
India ranks 41st among 181 countries of the world with regard to water stress. More than 60% of the net cultivated area is under dry land condition. Every year more than 30% of the area faces the problem of insufficient rainfall.
Water use efficiency: As water utilization is less in industrial (15%) and domestic (5%) sectors compared to agriculture (85%), and there are no further chances to reduce quantity of water in these sectors, the focus should be on agriculture sector for water saving without compromising on crop production.
Hydrogel can absorb more than 400 times its weight of water. When its surroundings begin to dry out, the hydrogel gradually dispenses up to 95% of its stored water. When exposed to water again, it will rehydrate and repeat the process of storing water. This hydrogel can be developed by modification of conventional polymer available. This modification dramatically reduces cost and improves gelling strength. Existing product is available at very high cost and very few companies are in market under this segment. Majority of work is just research work and not commercialized. Foreign countries like USA, UK, Australia & Israel are using this technique while in India, such product is less than 0.001% of all agriculture products.
This innovation came in Dr. Patel’s mind after reviewing baby products like diapers. Hydrogels are used in diaper-like baby care products. Hydrogel in diaper have tendency to absorb 400 times then its actual weight. Dr. Patel then started to work on hydrogel and made successful hydrogelling system that can be used in agriculture. Effective use of hydrogel can reduce water and fertilizer requirements for the crops.