The increasing interest in using water-saving hydrogel for crop production has prompted the study of the growth and yield characteristics of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) seedlings under different rates of hydrogel treatments in a semi-arid area of south-south Nigeria. Soil samples collected were prepared and analyzed for physico-chemical properties in the laboratory using standard techniques. The growth of the okra seedlings in the hydrogel –soil mixture in which the seedlings have been planted were measured as a function of hydrogel loading and compared with the values obtained in the control in which hydrogel was not added. Okra yield increased following hydrogel treatments by 21.2% under low 18.8% under medium and 28.2% under high rate compared with control plants, which was not treated. Also, plant height, stem diameter, leaf area, biomass accumulation and relative water content as well as protein and sugar contents in the fruit also increased significantly following hydrogel treatments. The optimum application of the hydrogel in the study area would be 6.0 kg ha-1 as it brings progressive increase in okra growth and also maintain proper nutrients balance in the soil after harvest. Other rates are not sufficient to maintain proper plant growth or soil nutrient balance.
Hydrogel, soil, bamboo, acrylonitrile, okra, cellulose