The National Institute of Education invites suitable applications for the position of Research Assistant on a 3-month contract which ends on 31st January 2019 at the Natural Sciences and Science Education Academic Group.
Project Title: Facile non-toxic formulation for smart water management for horticulture/agriculture application
Soil water repellency reduces the affinity of soil to water such that the soil resists wetting for a period ranging from a few seconds to hours, days or weeks. When penetration is disrupted, water has a greater tendency to evaporate instead of entering the soil. This phenomenon is detrimental for plant growth. Without sufficient moisture, these terrains will dry out faster and need additional irrigation, while the runoff collects in lower areas, creating wet spots that contribute to soil compaction and encourage disease. In a tropical environment like Singapore, all these water losses become even more enhanced especially during periods of “drought”. Soil water repellency has substantial effects on the hydrological and geomorphological properties of soil. These include the reduced infiltration capacity of soils, enhanced overland flow and accelerated soil erosion, uneven wetting patterns, development of preferential flow and the accelerated leaching of agrichemicals.
Our research will aim to make use of a chemical method (as this provides flexibility in formulation) to address this issue holistically. This is something missing in all the different approaches available so far. Consequently, for this issue of water repellency, we aim not only to enhance the wettability of soil, but also to retain the moisture content of soil for a period. In this project, we would like to reduce the cost further and address the upscalability of the synthetic route. Also, we will be extending this formulation to various food crops and investigate whether there are any toxic metabolites and undesirable remnant chemicals.