Water use and conservation for plant growth and development has become a big issue the past two years due to droughts. Maintenance of plant growth and development and ultimately yield will require irrigation should a drought occur during growing season. Droughts bring about unseasonably high temperatures which results in excessive water loss due to evapotranspiration.
Water will always take the path of least resistance and will simply run-off. This common occurrence leads to the over watering of plants, crops, and yards because water cannot reach the root system. The use of H2OExcel an all-natural bio-degradable solution that functions as a catalyst for water conservation will help alleviate this. H2OExcel creates soils that absorb water quicker than it traditionally could. Once it is embedded in the soil it will not harm any plants, animals, or humans.
According to Brookside Agra, H2OExcel is a unique product that was developed using extracts from desert plants, which have the natural ability to absorb water faster than other plant life. H2OExcel promotes water-efficiency in turn helping the environment while meeting strict performance standards. H2OExcel can decrease water usage by 30% – 50%, thereby, reducing the amount of water required per application, which in turn reduces costs.
Since this is a new product, not much data has been generated to quantify H2OExcel’s effectiveness on plant growth and yield. The purpose of this study was to test and ascertain the effectiveness of H2OExcel on soybean growth, development and yield under controlled greenhouse conditions.
A greenhouse study was established at the University of Central Missouri on March 4, 2014 to study and ascertain the effect of H2OExcel on soybean (Glycine Max) root mass, crop growth, and yield components. Soybeans seeds were planted in 12 soil pots. After germination, we selected healthy seedlings and transplanted individual plants in 24 pots. Twelve pots with one plant per pot were treated with H2OExcel and the other twelve were not treated with H2OExcel. Plant heights were recorded weekly. Once the plants were established in pots, we started to pull one plant from each treatment to measure root length and root mass. Roots were washed off carefully in water to remove the growth media. Once the soil media was washed off, the roots were rinsed in clean water to remove any remaining soil particles. The roots were then placed on a paper towel for 20 minutes to remove excess water and measure root mass and length. Root weight (mass) was recorded using an ACCULAB Sartorius Group electronic balance in grams. Since we were interested in dry matter, we dried the roots for a week and weighed dry matter after one week. Yield components (pods per plant and seeds per pod) were collected. The greenhouse study did not record the amount of water used, however previous studies conducted at UCM by Dr. Goodwin on tomatoes in a greenhouse show reduced water use with H2OExcel.
Soybean root samples were collected every week to determine and record wet and dry matter data. Graph 1 below shows both box plot on the left and scatter plot on the right for soybean dry root mass.
Statistical graphical presentation of the data shows differences in two groups (With H20Excel represented by T and without H20Excel represented by C). The graph shows a consistent higher dry root mass in cases where the soybeans were treated with H20Excel. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine if these differences are significant.
Wet root mass data exhibited similar results as shown in Graph 2 below (With H20Excel represented by T and without H20Excel represented by C).
From the boxplots above, further statistical analysis was conducted using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA proc) using R to determine if differences between treatments were statistically significant. The analysis shows significant difference in treatments at P value of .01 (Table 1). According to the data, there is a significant difference in root mass both in dry and wet weight. Even though root length is not significantly different between treatments (Fig 1), plants treated with H2OExcel have root mass that is consistently higher compared to untreated plants (Fig. 2). This is attributed to massive root growth with extensive branching that looked more fibrous compared to the untreated plants (Fig. 3). According our data, there was no difference in above ground plant height (Fig 4). Dry matter weights also show significant difference between the two treatments at Pr >F of .01 (Fig 5 and Table 1).
To ascertain the effect of H2OExcel on crop yield, yield component data was collected. Yield components are crop components that contribute to yield such as plants per acre, pods per plant, seeds per pod and seed weight. Since the study is still ongoing, we counted the number of pods per plant. According to our data, plants treated with H2O excel exhibited more pods per plant compared to untreated plants (Fig 6). Since soybean exhibit indeterminate growth pattern, we sampled three times and averaged the number across treatments. We continued to sample until the pods filled with seed. Fig 7a and 7b shows the difference in number of pods per plant in plants treated with H2OExcel compared with untreated plants.
Soybeans yield components were collected to determine the effect of H2OExcel on yield. Graph 3 below shows both box for soybean yield components in plants treated with and without H20Excel. Number 1 represents data from plants treated with H20Excel and number 2 represents data from plants without H20Excel. Statistical graphical presentation of the data shows differences in two groups (With H20Excel represented by 1 and without H20Excel represented by 2). The graph shows average number of seeds per pod, but a difference in the number of pods per plant. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine if these differences are significant.
From the boxplots above, further statistical analysis was conducted using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA proc) using R to determine if difference between treatments were statistically significant. The analysis shows significant difference in treatments at P value of .001 (Table 2).
This conclusion is arrived at by observing the p-values (Pr(>F) column) associated with the three different factors in the ANOVA table below. At 95% confidence we can refute the claim of no difference in the two experiments if the value in the Pr(>F) column is less than 0.05. In this case, the pvalue associated with the treatments 0.0006738 provides a highly significant value to confirm the effect of H20Excel treatments on the soybean yield.
Summary and Conclusion
According to our data, plants treated with H2OExcel exhibit a significant increase in root mass compared with untreated plants. The treated plants matured sooner and started to set pods sooner than untreated plants. Treated plants had more pods per plant compared to untreated plants. Increased root mass associated with H2OExcel allowed plants to explore the soil and absorb water and nutrients efficiently which contributed to the differences we observed. We recommend that study be replicated on a large scale to also analyze water use