Boosting Sweet Potato Health with Chitosan and Humic Acid During Drought

Jenn Hoskins
17th March, 2024

Boosting Sweet Potato Health with Chitosan and Humic Acid During Drought

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study shows humic treatments boost crop yield by 66.9% and water efficiency by 68.4%
  • Applying humic substances to soil during low water periods increases yields more than foliar sprays
  • Combining chitosan and humic treatments maximizes crop yield under varied drought conditions
The quest for sustainable agriculture is becoming increasingly crucial as the world grapples with dwindling freshwater resources and the looming threats of climate change. A key strategy in this battle is improving crop yields under drought conditions, which is vital for maintaining global food security. A recent study by the National Water Research Center[1] has made strides in this area, focusing on how certain treatments can help crops better withstand water shortages. The problem at hand is clear: plants need water to grow, and without it, crops can fail, leading to reduced food supplies. Drought stress during critical growth phases of crops can lead to significant yield losses. This is where the study comes into play, examining how humic and chitosan treatments can mitigate the effects of drought on crops, specifically during the early vine development and storage root bulking stages of growth. The study employed four different irrigation strategies to simulate varying degrees of water availability. Crops were either fully irrigated or received 70% of the required water at the early vine development stage, 70% during the storage root bulking stage, or 85% across both stages. In addition to these watering regimens, plants were treated with either humic substances through foliar spray or soil application, or with a chitosan foliar application, with a control group receiving only tap water. The results were telling. When crops were subjected to drought conditions during the early vine development stage, yields plummeted by 42.0%. However, when humic substances were applied via foliar spray under normal growth conditions, there was a remarkable increase in both yield and water efficiency—66.9% and 68.4%, respectively, over the control. This suggests that humic treatments can be a powerful tool in enhancing crop resilience to drought. Interestingly, when 70% irrigation was applied during the storage root bulking stage, soil application of humic substances proved more effective than foliar sprays of either chitosan or humic substances in boosting yields. The most impressive results came from using a combination of chitosan and humic soil applications, which maximized tuber yield and water efficiency, regardless of the irrigation strategy employed during the vulnerable stages. These findings resonate with earlier research that has also explored the impact of water stress on crop production and the potential of various supplements to alleviate it. For instance, a study on carrot cultivation[2] found that under reduced irrigation, the application of humic substances and potassium sulfate significantly increased yield and improved water use efficiency. Similarly, research on maize[3] highlighted the benefits of adjusting sowing dates and irrigation levels to optimize water use and increase productivity. In the context of oilseed crops like mustard, the application of phenylalanine (PA) was shown to help plants overcome drought-induced losses and enhance growth[4]. These studies, along with the current research, underscore the potential of using supplements to improve crop resilience to water stress. The research also aligns with findings from sweet potato cultivation[5], where moderate irrigation levels were found to be optimal for yield and water productivity. This further supports the notion that precise water management and the use of growth-enhancing treatments can significantly improve the efficiency of water usage in agriculture. In conclusion, the study by the National Water Research Center offers promising insights into the use of humic and chitosan treatments to enhance crop yields and water efficiency under drought conditions. By identifying the most vulnerable growth stages and applying suitable treatments, this research contributes to the development of more resilient agricultural practices. As global water resources continue to be pressured, such innovations are essential for ensuring food security and sustainability in agriculture.

AgricultureBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Chitosan combined with humic applications during sensitive growth stages to drought improves nutritional status and water relations of sweet potato.

Published 16th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Stimulating growth, root quality, and yield of carrots cultivated under full and limited irrigation levels by humic and potassium applications.

3) Impact of different sowing dates and irrigation levels on NPK absorption, yield and water use efficiency of maize.

4) Phenylalanine supply alleviates the drought stress in mustard (Brassica campestris) by modulating plant growth, photosynthesis, and antioxidant defense system.

5) Photosynthesis Product Allocation and Yield in Sweet Potato in Response to Different Late-Season Irrigation Levels.

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