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Nanotechnology in Agriculture

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Nanotechnology in Agriculture

 Rajeew Kumar

G.B.Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar-Uttrakhand


The realization that there are small things in the world that are not visible to the naked eye extends back into human history. Today's developments are addressing the size range below these dimensions. Because a typical structure size is in the nanometer range, the methods and techniques are defined as nanotechnology.  The prefix "nano," derived from the Greek "nano" signifying "dwarf," is becoming increasingly common in scientific literature. "Nano" is now a popular label for much of modern science, and many "nano-" words have recently appeared in dictionaries, including: nanometer, nanoscale, nanoscience, nanotechnology, nanostructure, nanotube, nanowire, and nanorobot. Although the idea of nanotechnology: producing nanoscale objects and carrying out nanoscale manipulations, has been around for quite some time, the birth of the concept is usually linked to a speech by Rachard Feyman at the December 1959 meeting of the American Physical Society where he asked, "What would happen if we could arrange the atoms one by one the way we want them?"

 

APPLICATIONS OF NANO-TECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE

In the agricultural sector, nanotech research and development is likely to facilitate and frame the next stage of development of genetically modified crops, animal production inputs, chemical pesticides and precision farming techniques. While nano-chemical pesticides are already in use, other applications are still in their early stages, and it may be many years before they are commercialized. These applications are largely intended to address some of the limitations and challenges facing large-scale, chemical and capital intensive farming systems. This includes the fine-tuning and more precise micro-management of soils; the more efficient and targeted use of inputs; new toxin formulations for pest control; new crop and animal traits; and the diversification and differentiation of farming practices and products within the context of large-scale and highly uniform systems of production.

Table 1. Nano agrochemicals under development

Type of product

Product name & manufacturer

Nano content

Purpose

Super" combined

fertilizer and

pesticide

Pakistan-US Science

and Technology Cooperative Program

Nano-clay capsule contains growth stimulants and biocontrol agents

Because it can be designed for slow release of active ingredients, treatment requires only one application over the life of the crop

Herbicide

 

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (India) and Technologico de Monterry (Mexico)

Nano-formulated

 

Designed to attack the seed

coating of weeds, destroy soil seed banks and prevent weed germination

Pesticides, including

herbicides

Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

Nano-encapsulated active ingredients

Very small size of nanocapsules increases their potency and may enable targeted release of active ingredients

Source : http://www.foeeurope.org/activities/nanotechnology/Documents/Nano_food_report.pdf

 Table 2 .Examples of the current use of nanomaterials in agriculture. 

Type of product

Product name & manufacturer

Nano content

Purpose

Nutritional supplement

 

Nanoceuticals 'mycrohydrin'  powder, RBC Lifesciences

Molecular cages 1-5  nm diameter made from silicamineral hydride comple

Nano-sized mycrohydrinhas increased potency and bioavailability. Exposure to moisture releases H- ions and acts as a powerful antioxidant.

Nutritional drink

 

Oat Chocolate Nutritional Drink Mix, Toddler Health

300nm particles of iron (SunActive Fe)

Nano-sized iron particles have increased reactivity and bioavailability.

Food packaging

 

Adhesive for McDonald's burger containers, Ecosynthetix

 

50-150nm starch nanospheres

 

These nanoparticles have 400 times the surface area of natural starch particles. When used as an adhesive they require less water and thus less time and energy to dry. 

Food additive

 

Aquasol preservative,

AquaNova

 

Nanoscale micelle (capsule)

of lipophilic or water insoluble

substances

Surrounding active ingredients within soluble nanocapsules increases absorption within the body (including individual cell)

Plant growth treatment

 

PrimoMaxx, Syngenta

 

100nm particle size emulsion

 

Using nano-sized particles increases the potency of active ingredients, potentially reducing the quantity to be applied.

Source : http://www.foeeurope.org/activities/nanotechnology/Documents/Nano_food_report.pdf

 


 

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.