Novel alginate-cellulose nanofiber-poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogels for carrying and delivering nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium chemicals

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Novel nanocomposite hydrogels were successfully prepared by blending and crosslinking sodium alginate (SA), poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) in the presence of a fertilizer formulation containing nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The hydrogels had a macroporous flexible core and a microporous semi- interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) shell. The crystalline nature of the NPK chemicals was retained in the hydrogel nanocomposite network. Furthermore, the SA/CNF/PVA-based hydrogels showed a higher water-retention capacity in both deionized water and mixed soil. The swelling behavior in various physiological pH, salt and alkali solutions exhibited good sensitivity. The NPK release from SA/CNF/NPK and SA/CNF/PVA/NPK hydrogels was controlled by Fickian diffusion in both water and soil based on the Korsmeyer-Peppas release kinetics model (n < 0.5). Therefore, the prepared hydrogels have the potential for applications in drought-prone and/or fertilizer-loss regions for future development of precision agriculture and horticulture.

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International journal of biological macromolecules

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