Nanotechnology: an emerging trend in agriculture

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Nanotechnology is study of operating materials at nano-scale. It is an innovative, progressive, interdisciplinary scientific methodology that comprises designing, development and use of materials and devices at molecular level in nanometer scale i.e. at least one dimension ranges in size from 1 to 100 nanometers.


Among the most recent mechanical advances, nanotechnology possesses a focal position. It has various applications in all phases of production, processing, collecting, packaging and transport of agricultural products. The lessened utilization of herbicides, pesticides and manures with expanded proficiency, controlled discharge and focused on conveyance will prompt exactness cultivating. Long for computerized, centrally controlled agriculture can get to be reality now.


Nanotechnology appliances and tools, like nanocapsules, nanoparticles and even viral capsids, are examples of uses for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the improvement in nutrients absorption by plants, the delivery of active ingredients to definite sites and water treatment routes. The use of target-specific nanoparticles can decrease the damage ratio of non-target plant tissues and the amount of chemicals liberate into the environment. Nanotechnology resultant devices are also studied in the field of plant breeding and genetic transformation.


The use of nanotechnology in agriculture is getting importance due to its remarkable benefits in this sector. Its possible leads vary from improved nutrient contents, decrease agricultural inputs, boosted food values and greater shelf life. Agriculture sector is backbone of developing countrys economy. They have more than 60% of the population which depends upon agriculture to earn their livelihood directly or indirectly through this sector. But still in 21st century it has to study with attentions like sustainable use of natural resources, diminishing nutrients in soil and environmental issues like runoff and accumulation of fertilizers and pesticides. So, we need to adopt such a technology that could give a shape to the modern agriculture in a more precise way that would eventually move to accurate farming in a cost-effective way with the supply of just the right amount of input at the right time.


These are nano-scale devices having molecular particles which can be made for the systematic delivery of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and plant growth regulators etc. The nano scale particles along their carriers are used in such a way that they can anchor the plant roots to the surrounding soil and organic matter that leads to stability against degradation. Plant pests are major elements in restraining crop yields. Pesticides are used to reduce the losses caused by these factors. Surplus amount of pesticides also the major factor of environmental and water pollution. There is a necessity to use as much as minimum quantity of pesticides to protect the environment and decrease the cost in crop production. Nano-encapsulation is a nano-technological technique that can be used to increase the insecticidal worth. In nano-encapsulation technique the nano-sized active pesticide element is wrapped by a thin walled sac (protective coating). The effective method in this respect is increaseefficiency and decreased quantity of pesticide input and allied environmental hazards. Nano-encapsulated broad spectrum pesticide has launched by Syngenta and then marketed under the name of Karate® ZEON. It is used to control the attack of insect pests on cotton, rice soybeans and peanuts.


Nanotechnology has ability to get rid of weeds by using nano-herbicides in an effective way, without separationof any toxic residues in soil and environment. Nano particles will blend with soil particles and avoid the growth of weed species that have developed resistance against conventional herbicides. Creating a target specific herbicide molecule who will encapsulated with nanoparticle is designed for specific receptor in the roots of target weeds, which enters into roots system of the weeds and translocated to different portions that prevent glycolysis of food assets in the root system eventually making the definite weed plant to starve for food and the ultimately gets killed. Nano-sensors can use as a smart dust, will be dispersed like dust across the fields, acting like the eyes, ears and noses of the farming world. These minute wireless sensors are able to transfer the information they sense.


There are many losses occur in food produced on earth before it can be consumed and this situation is mostly find in fruits and vegetables. These losses can be reduced up to great degree by enhancing the shelf life of perishable products. Nano- particles can also be used to enhance the shelf life of food products by using as disinfectants in food packaging and food engineering. Tiny size of nano-particles is introduced as disinfectants for bacteria, the major source in food contamination. Electrons from nano-particles who are excited, inoculated into bacterial bodies which effects in bacterial exclusion from the concerned stuffsparticularly in food processing and packaging.


Nano-lamination is another feasible option to protect the food frommoisture, gases and lipids accumulation that will protect the food from these agents. Nano-lamination is useful by coating foods with nano-laminates or just by spraying it on the food surface. They can enhance the texture level, preserve flavor and color of the foodand also use for preservation of food.


Nanotechnology has remarkable potential to enable and frame the next stage of accurate farming methods. It will increase agricultural prospects to harvest higher yields in sustainable way even in diverse environmental conditions. Further and deep studies are obligatory to know the mechanism for nano-particles toxicity and their effects on natural environment. If we overcome these attentions, the optimistic and valuable future is at doorstep of emerging nations.


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Published in: Volume 07 Issue 15

Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=15609