Wednesday, March 3, 2010


In a previous entry a visitor made a comment on his use of hydrogels.  Hydrogels are those little clumps of material that when water is added swell into jelly-like blobs.  They are added to soils, mostly for container plants, to help retain water and then release it to the plant as the soil drys out reducing the need to water. I've also heard they are good for starting cuttings.   Some people like them, others don't.  If you use them or are thinking of using them you might read the article by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott from Washington State University for more insight on the materials.  Dr. Chalker-Scott is one of the the great mythbusters for garden remedies.  Even if you aren't interested in hydrogels, check out her website.  A link is in the box to the right.   Anyway she has concerns about the chemicals released when the products break down.  The link to her article on hydro-gels is

After reading the article, make up your own mind.


  1. I read with great interest the post relating to hydrogels. To be specific, hydrogels are known as super-absorbent polymers (SAP), and the agricultural grade of SAP are called cross-linked polyacrylamides (CLP) which come in various grades.

    I promote the Hydrosource brand of CLP which lasts 20 years in the soil. Others only last 5 to 7 years.

    Now to the point Dr. Chalker-Scott's thoughts on CLP. First, she has "concerns" which unfortunately are not backed by scientific research. I have some links listed below of actual research conducted by numerous institutions (including Harvard) from around the country and around the world.

    Further, we at Hydrosource ( will be releasing a well-documented research paper relating to CLP and acrylamide.

    The facts are clear, humans have been injesting acrylamide since we started using fire. Acrylamide is produced at various level simply by cooking. It's highest rated come from cooking processes like the production of potato chips. Yes, even bran muffins contain acrylamide.

    One will injest more acrylamide from eating a bag of chips that from having Hydrosource CLP in a garden or field.

    Is it safe? Well, first the question must be asked, does any of the hydrogels acrylamide make it into the plants or crops? NO. The microbes quickly break down the residual acrylamide into ammonia and a few other trace minerals. There has never been a scientific CLP research project that has detected acrylamide absorbed into plants or crops. It appears the microbes break it down so fast, plus the acrylamide is too large to be absorbed.

    And, please remember that our Hydrosource CLP products lasts 20 years in the soil.

    The issue of acrylamide injestion and that of cancer is a matter of cooking processes, not the use of hydrogels.

    You will find at the links below that there are currently over 200 studies boring in on this question.

    I quote: "In 2009, two independent studies examined a possible correlation between dietary intake of acrylamide and breast cancer. First, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden monitored more than 60,000 women over several years and found no link between dietary acrylamide intake and breast cancer. Likewise, a 2009 study conducted by Harvard University arrived at the same conclusion. That study entailed more than 90,000 premenopausal women."

    Here is the link to that quote (plus the links to the studies):

    Hydrosource CLP products will conserve water use by 50%. That is very important, especially here in AZ. Also, we recommend organic fertilizers (fish emulsions, compost teas, etc.) since synthetics slighly reduce the water and nutrient absorbtion capacity of CLP. Hydrosource is USDA approved.

    Please feel free to contact us for further information regarding Hydrosource CLP products. We are based out of Sedona, AZ and I live in Prescott Valley.

    We are the leading researchers on SAPs. We have body of research stretching over 20 years; and are currently conducting another CLP research project with Colorado State University on potato scab.

    I believe that you will discover that our promotion of Hydrosource products is actually a movement to encourage current farming practices towards more natural and organic practices. We have demonstrated increased crop yields and healthier foods.

    Finally, when you find out about this company's orgins and ethos, you will understand that it is not just selling polymer, rather it changing the commercial crop production towards a more natural, and organic, and higher quality food product while protecting and conserving our environmental assets.

    Thank you for your interest in

    Laird Maxwell
    (623) 980-4268

    Additional links:

  2. One problem with hydrogels is the large pore space left in the soil when the hydrogel dries out. In really fluffy, humus soil, this may not be a huge problem, but in clay soil it is. Sufficient hydrogels to retain moisture equals more than sufficient empty pore spaces to create problems for roots needing water