Biodegradation of a nanocellulose superabsorbent and its effect on the growth of spinach (spinacea oleracea)

Ruth M. Barajas-Ledesma, Craig W. Stocker, Vanessa N.L. Wong, Karen Little, Antonio F. Patti, Gil Garnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, spinach (Spinacea oleracea) plants were grown in two soils, a clay loam (CL) and a sandy (SD) soil, amended with two types of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs), nanocellulose and commercial, at different levels of soil moisture: 70, 40, and 20%. The effect of the superabsorbent on the soil properties, water management, and plant biomass was measured and compared to that in soils treated with a commercial anionic polyacrylamide-based SAP. Plant biomass is the highest in SD soil amended with a commercial superabsorbent. However, it decreases in the CL soil when a superabsorbent is applied, independent of the SAP type. This effect is magnified when a nanocellulose SAP is used; this is likely attributed to waterlogging stress and the fast biodegradation of this superabsorbent, where approximately 50% of the initial mass remains after 5 days of exposure. The use of a nanocellulose SAP as a water retention agent offers the potential for a much-needed sustainable solution for global agriculture. Future studies are needed to modify the structure of the nanocellulose SAP to inhibit its biodegradation and increase its benefits for agricultural use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-99
Number of pages10
JournalACS Agricultural Science & Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • biodegradation
  • nanocellulose
  • plant growth
  • superabsorbent
  • water productivity

Cite this