Nano technology - Future of agriculture

By Team - JAY KISAAN


Introduction


Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the agricultural and food industry with new tools for the molecular treatment of diseases, rapid disease detection, enhancing the ability of plants to absorb nutrients etc.

Agricultural scientists are facing a wide range of challenges such as stagnation in crop yields, low nutrient use efficiency, declining soil organic matter, multi-nutrient deficiencies, climate change, shrinking arable land and water availability and shortage of labour besides exodus of people from farming. In spite of immense constraints faced, we need to attain a sustainable growth in agriculture at the rate of 4% to meet the food security challenges. To address these problems, there is a need to explore one of the frontier technologies such as 'Nanotechnology' to precisely detect and deliver the correct quantity of nutrients and pesticides that promote productivity while ensuring environmental safety and higher use efficiency. The nanotechnology can be exploited in the value chain of entire agriculture production system. In the present article the role of nanotechnology in agriculture has been discussed briefly.

Nanoparticles

Nutrients encapsulated inside nano porous materials, coated with thin polymer film, or delivered as particle or emulsion of nano scales dimensions are knows as Nano-fertilizer. Nanotechnology deals with manipulation of materials at atom level, molecular and macromolecular scales, which operated at 100 nm, their properties significantly, differed from at a large scale. It increases surface area to volume ratio altering mechanical, thermal and catalytic properties of materials thereby, playing a beneficial role in soil health by improving soil aggregation, water holding capacity and nutrient uptake. These fertilizers made through biological process, are eco-friendly and have been designed to compete with inorganic fertilizers in terms of nutrient composition and application rates.

How Nano technology useful in agriculture sector ?

Nano technology has the prospective to modernize the agriculture research and development with new tools for the molecular treatment of diseases, rapid disease detection, enhancing the ability of plants to absorb nutrients etc. Smart sensors and smart delivery systems will help the agricultural industry combat viruses and other crop pathogens. In the near future nano structured catalysts will be available which will increase the efficiency of pesticides and herbicides, allowing lower doses to be used. Nanotechnology will also protect the environment indirectly through the use of alternative energy supplies, and filters or catalysts to reduce pollution and clean-up existing pollutants. Technology may address the challenges of growing demands for healthy and nutritionally balanced food.


How nanotechnology transforms agriculture sector

  • The nanocapsule can enable effective penetration of herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and genes into the targeted part of the plant. This ensures a slow and constant release of the necessary substance to the plants with minimised environmental pollution.

  • The nanosensors and delivery systems can allow for precision farming through the efficient use of natural resources like water, nutrients, chemicals etc.

  • The nanosensors can also detect the plant viruses and soil nutrient levels.

  • Nano-barcodes and nano-processing could also be used to monitor the quality of agriculture produce.

Nano fertilizers

Nano fertilizers are being studied as a way to increase nutrient efficiency and improve plant nutrition, compared with traditional fertilizers. A Nano fertilizer is any product that is made with nanoparticles or uses nanotechnology to improve nutrient efficiency. Three classes of Nano fertilizers have been proposed:

  • nanoscale fertilizer (nanoparticles which contain nutrients),

  • nanoscale additives (traditional fertilizers with nanoscale additives), and

  • nanoscale coating (traditional fertilizers coated or loaded with nanoparticles)


The Nanomaterial coatings (such as a Nano membrane) may slow the release of nutrients or a porous Nano fertilizer may include a network of channels that retard nutrient solubility. The use of nanotechnology for fertilizers is still in its infancy but is already adopted for medical and engineering

a magnetic nanoparticle ruptures when exposed to a magnetic field. Many of these Nano technologies are still in the early development stage for both medical and agricultural uses. However, the next time you hear about Nano fertilizers, you will have a better idea of where this field is headed

Types of Nano fertilizers

  • Nano porous zeolite

  • Zinc Nano fertilizer

  • Nano herbicides

  • Nano pesticides

  • Boron Nano fertilizers

Nano porous zeolite

Nanoporous materials consist of a regular organic or inorganic framework supporting a regular, porous structure. The size of the pores is generally 100 nanometers or smaller. Activated carbon and zeolites are two examples of bulk nanoporous materials, while cell membranes can be thought of as nanoporous membranes.

Ammonium charged zeolites, which can enhance the solubility of phosphate minerals, showing an improvement in phosphorus availability and uptake by crops



Zeolites improves the efficency of nutrient by increasing the availability of phosphorus form phosphatic rocks


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