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Agriculture and the Environment - How Nanomaterials and Nanoparticles Can Benefit These Sectors

Topics Covered

Background

Buckyball Fertiliser?

TiO2 Nano Mixture

Seeding Iron

Soil Binder - Using Chemical Reactions at the Nanoscale to Bind Soil Together

Soil Clean-Up Using Iron Nanoparticles

Background

A number of projects around the world are exploring the use of nanoparticles on the farm for purposes other than pesticides - from enhanced photosynthesis to better germination and soil management.

Buckyball Fertiliser?

Researchers at Kyoto University (Japan) have discovered a method of producing ammonia using buckyballs. Ammonia is a key component of fertiliser, but it is not clear if the resulting product for use in the fields would contain buckyballs.

TiO2 Nano Mixture

Scientists at the University of Korea have applied for a patent on a liquid after which time it dissolves in the groundwater and becomes indistinguishable from naturally occurring iron.

Seeding Iron

The Russian Academy of Sciences reports that they have been able to improve the germination of tomato seeds by spraying a solution of iron nanoparticles on to fields.

Soil Binder - Using Chemical Reactions at the Nanoscale to Bind Soil Together

In 2003, ETC Group reported on a nanotech-based soil binder called SoilSet developed by Sequoia Pacific Research of Utah (USA). SoilSet is a quick-setting mulch which relies on chemical reactions on the nanoscale to bind the soil together. It was sprayed over 1,400 acres of Encebado mountain in New Mexico to prevent erosion following forest fires, as well as on smaller areas of forest burns in Mendecino County, California.

Soil Clean-Up Using Iron Nanoparticles

A number of approaches are being developed to apply nanotechnology and particularly nanoparticles to cleaning up soils contaminated with heavy metals and PCBs. Dr. Wei-Xang Zhang has pioneered a nano clean-up method of injecting nano-scale iron into a contaminated site. The particles flow along with the groundwater and decontaminate en route, which is much less expensive than digging out the soil to treat it. Dr. Zhang’s tests with nano-scale iron show significantly lower contaminant levels within a day or two. The tests also show that the nano-scale iron will remain active in the soil for six to eight weeks, after which time it dissolves in the groundwater and becomes indistinguishable from naturally occurring iron.     

Source: ‘Down on the Farm: the Impact of Nano-Scale Technologies on Food and Agriculture’, ETC Group Report, November 2004.

For more information on this source please visit the ETC Group.

 

Date Added: Jul 25, 2005 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
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