Effect of Potassium Polyacrylate in Soil to Growth of Zea mays in Polyethylene Glycol-4000 Simulated Drought

Mary Emmanuelle Castaneda1, Glennel Jan Hallado1, Recca Lujan1, Catherine Joy Mediodia1 and Lovie Grace Aguaras1
1Philippine Science High School Western Visayas Campus – Bito-on, Jaro, Iloilo City 5000, Department of Science and Technology, Philippines

Zea mays L. (corn) is a staple food for about 20% of the Philippine population, making it one of the most important food crops in the country, but are threatened to have a decline in production due to El Nio and water shortage in the Philippines. This study aimed to investigate if the addition of potassium polyacrylate to the soil will improve soil water retention to help optimize the drought tolerance of Zea mays (maize). This can help develop a new method in assisting plant survival during drought conditions and increase crop yield and growth. Since drought is an impending problem that greatly affects agricultural industries, this study can help address the problem of hunger in some areas, especially those which rely greatly on corn produce. Thirty corn seeds were planted and divided among six different groups, five under PEG-induced drought stress with varying concentrations of potassium polyacrylate incorporated to the soil, and one under normal conditions. Height, number of standing leaves, and soil moisture content were determined weekly for four weeks. Twenty-five plants germinated after five to six days. By the fourth week, only 11 plants were left. The results of the different parameters were insignificantly different, indicating that potassium polyacrylate was ineffective in improving soil water retention and does not help in the optimization of drought tolerance of maize. Increasing sample size, measuring daily osmotic potential, increasing frequency of measurements, observing until the reproductive stage and using PEG 6000 or 8000 instead of PEG 4000 are recommended for further studies.