... Subscribe to Our Free Quarterly Newsletter!

Sign up for our free quarterly newsletter, Ecologel's Solutions, and receive insights into a diverse range of topics from drought to plant nutrition to pond management and more. Plus, you'll stay abreast of current news items from a variety of sources that focus on the challenges faced by greencare pros and hobbyists alike.

While you are awaiting the next issue, feel free to visit the archive to review previous issues.

Ecologel Solutions, LLC is an Ocala, Florida-based manufacturing company specializing in the production of environmentally responsible chemistries for commercial and residential application in the areas of agriculture, lawn care and surface coatings. Ecologel’s products include technologies aimed at drought mitigation, dust control, fertilizers and nutrients, algae blockers (both pond and solid surface) as well as advanced hormone growth regulators for the turf-care industries.

The company’s flagship product technology, Hydretain®, is a unique and advanced liquid chemistry, which is fully biodegradable and made from food grade materials, that allows all manner of plants, including food-producing agriculture, to survive drought periods with minimal if any attrition. This same technology allows for significant water savings in terms of reduced irrigation requirements year-round, even when drought conditions are not prevalent. Given the ever-increasing awareness of drought and the tandem concerns of water conservation and the green agenda, Hydretain stands out as a product of extreme promise. With a claim to reduce routine watering needs of turf, shrubs, flowers and crops by as much as 50%, Hydretain holds the potential to reduce water consumption by vast amounts, and to play a key role in global conservation initiatives.

Hydretain’s primary mechanism of action is to bind to living plant roots after being applied to the soil and serve as a capturing agent for evaporative moisture as it leaves the soil. By capturing moisture vapor which plants can’t use and collecting it into usable liquid droplets, plants gain access to significant amounts of moisture that would otherwise have been lost to the atmosphere. This process sustains plants between rainfall and irrigation cycles, ensuring they remain clear of drought stresses and die-off. In doing so, the plant exhibits fewer signs of requiring water thereby requiring the caretaker to use less water to keep the plant healthy. The product lasts for up to three months in the soil after which it is broken down via microbial action into trace nutrients and then consumed by the plant.

Hydretain’s drought fighting effects are well-documented and proven in both commercial application as well as controlled scientific studies conducted by major universities and horticultural scientists. In one study in Texas a major golf course used the product to great effect and realized a weekly water savings of over 1.2 million gallons. Over the years the product has gained a loyal following of green care professionals across a variety of industries including golf course maintenance, agriculture, home lawn service, greenhouse nurseries and agriculture supply distributors. Additionally, the company has been able to nurture a growing customer base in the southeastern United States. Despite this modest success, there remains a vast untapped potential for the product both in terms of geographic reach as well as new vertical markets.

In addition to its drought-fighting capabilities, Hydretain also provides an important mechanism for the more efficient use of fertilizers, pesticides and other green care products. By improving the uptake of these products through maintaining proper soil moisture levels, the farmer, green pro or homeowner can use less of these fertilizer and pesticide products. By using less, there is a far lower risk of contamination of ground water via runoff. In addition to reducing cost of fertilizers and other chemicals, this is a very important environmental concern in areas where food-producing agriculture, or even golf courses and large housing developments may lie near or impact coastal or riverine fisheries or sensitive aquifers. This gives Hydretain yet another valuable environmental feather in the cap that will prove important in its public perception and broader commercial adoption.

Water: The New Oil

1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world's population.

2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water.

An estimated 25% of people from cities in developing countries purchase their water from vendors at a significantly higher price than piped water. In some cases, at the cost of more than a quarter of their household incomes.

84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 – 14.

Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on Earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.

An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.

The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person.

Major oceanic and atmospheric research studies point to increased drought frequency, duration and severity as a result of climate change. Further, data suggests that areas previously viewing drought as an inconvenience will suffer more serious effects.

Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar of California cited concerns in a recent address that the State of California may have only 20 years of fresh water in its reservoirs and other hydrologic reserves.

Human population growth will drive ever increasing demands on available fresh water and will compete directly with other uses of the resource.

A typical family in the industrialized world can use more than 400 gallons of water per day, with over 30% of total usage outside the home. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. In the United States, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one-third of all residential water use, totaling more than 7 billion gallons per day. This figure does not account for other outdoor uses such as washing cars, maintaining swimming pools, and cleaning sidewalks and driveways.

Irrigation accounts for about a third of water use and is currently the largest use of fresh water in the United States. Irrigation water use includes water used for growing crops, frost protection, chemical applications, weed control, and other agricultural purposes, as well as water used to maintain areas such as parks and golf courses. Historically, more surface water than ground water has been used for irrigation. However, the percentage of total irrigation withdrawals from ground water has continued to increase, from 23 percent in 1950 to 42 percent in 2000. Irrigated acreage more than doubled between 1950 and 1980, then remained constant before increasing nearly 7 percent between 1995 and 2000. The number of acres irrigated with sprinkler and micro-irrigation systems has continued to increase and now comprises more than one-half the total irrigated acreage.

Some experts estimate that up to 50 percent of commercial and residential irrigation water use goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, improper system design, or overwatering. Converting to a water-efficient landscape through proper choice of plants, careful design and using proper soil moisture management techniques to prevent over- and under-watering can reduce outdoor water use by 20 to 50 percent, or more than 20,000 gallons per household per year.

As global water shortages apply pressure to governments and industry to conserve, the trickle-down effect will place new constraints on all water uses, requiring all sectors to do their part. The ability to reduce botanical irrigation by vast amounts exists today and is tied to innovation from companies such as Ecologel. The time is now to launch an intensive educational program that focuses on awareness of the looming water crisis and how innovative products can and must play a vital role. The ultimate scenario is one in which these products are mandated in industrial roles and homeowners are incentivized for choosing to use them, much like insurance companies give rate discounts for cars equipped with anti-lock brakes.

At no other point in recent history ahs there been such awareness of the planet’s limited resources, coupled with an administration so willing to act on the environment’s behalf. Many products today are uniquely poised to take the lead in conservation initiatives provided that their capabilities and scope become part of mainstream thinking and applied practice.