Nanofertilizer and Nanotechnology: A quick look
Posted on October 18th, 2021

By Robert Mikkelsen

The word Nano” means one-billionth, so nanotechnology refers to materials that are measured in a billionth of a meter (nm). A nanometer is so small that the width of a human hair is 80,000 nanometers. The field of nanotechnology has resulted from advances in chemistry, physics, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and biology. The size of a nanomaterial is typically about 1 to 100 nanometers. They can be naturally occurring or engineered.

Due to their extremely minute size, they have many unique properties that are now being explored for new opportunities in agriculture. There are naturally occurring nanoparticles that have been previously proposed for agricultural use, such as zeolite minerals. However, engineered nanomaterials can now be synthesized with a range of desired chemical and physical properties to meet various applications.

Nanofertilizers are being studied as a way to increase nutrient efficiency and improve plant nutrition, compared with traditional fertilizers. A nanofertilizer is any product that is made with nanoparticles or uses nanotechnology to improve nutrient efficiency.

Three classes of nanofertilizers have been proposed:

1. nanoscale fertilizer (nanoparticles which contain nutrients),

2. nanoscale additives (traditional fertilizers with nanoscale additives), and

3. nanoscale coating (traditional fertilizers coated or loaded with nanoparticles)

Nanomaterial coatings (such as a nanomembrane) may slow the release of nutrients or a porous nanofertilizer 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 applications. Schematic diagram of potential smart fertilizer effects in the soil-plant system. Adapted from Calabi-Floody et al. 2017.

Another promising application of nanotechnology is the encapsulation of beneficial microorganisms that can improve plant root health. These could include various bacteria or fungi that enhance the availability of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the root zone.

The development of nanobiosensors to react with specific root exudates is also being explored.

SUMMARY There is more talk and publications about nanofertilizers in recent years, but these materials are still new for many agronomists. Because these fertilizers are still in the early stage of development, a brief review of their potential is useful. KEYWORDS: fertilizer technol

One Response to “Nanofertilizer and Nanotechnology: A quick look”

  1. aloy Says:

    So, is this nanofertilyzer going to be used for the first time in the world in Srl Lanka?. Are we some kind of the guinea pigs to try it here, feed the people and see the result. A very frightening prospect for me.

    I suggest that Ministry of Agriculture take our university researchers to India or where ever they have been tried and convince them that this is absolutely safe to use on our soil and consume the crops. If not there can be a possibility that even the DNA can get affected. Can the director at least give the specification of the material in a scientific way describing the entire process?. If not the consequences can be disastrous, to my thinking.

    I remember he was telling that the patent belong to Sri Lankans. Who are they?.

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