Iron Oxide Nanomaterial Supports Sustainable Soybean Production

In a study published recently in the journal ACS Nano, several methodologies were utilized to illustrate the enormous potential of Fe2O3 nanomaterials as a high-efficiency, long-term agricultural fertilizer solution.

Iron Oxide Nanomaterial Supports Sustainable Soybean Production

Study: Foliar Application with Iron Oxide Nanomaterials Stimulate Nitrogen Fixation, Yield, and Nutritional Quality of Soybean. Image Credit: oticki/

Why Nanomaterials?

Soil chemical shortages are believed to hinder optimal crop development.

Worldwide, 30% of farmed lands are iron (Fe) insufficient, with plant accessible Fe concentration up to four magnitudes lower than that required for optimum plant development. Furthermore, the fast-expanding world population would need a 60–70% increase in output by 2050, necessitating appropriate measures to resolve the existing deficiencies and overall lack of durability of traditional agriculture.

Fe chelates are being utilized as fertilizer to address dietary inadequacies. Nonetheless, Fe chelates can have active or passive detrimental environmental repercussions. The inclusion of chelating agents in landscapes may also enhance hard rock absorption, raise soils acidity, have a deleterious impact on the soil microorganisms, and cause immediate toxicities.

Sustainable farming techniques are therefore desperately required to alleviate soil Fe shortage. Nanomaterials (NMs) are recognized to possess a wide variety of potential agricultural uses, involving effective nutrient distribution, plant safety protocols, and reactive plant hormones.

Use of Fe-based Nanomaterials

In 2019, worldwide soybean (Glycine max L.) output was 0.33 million metric tons, with the principal applications being living organisms’ food, along with biofuels. Furthermore, via nitrification, soybean contributes significantly to global nutrient cycling.

Soybean stems generate parasitic bacteroids with nitrogen-fixing microbes in clusters, which are used in situ nitrogen fixation to transform environmental nitrogen to ammonia.

Moreover, soybean development, productivity, and nutritional characteristics are all very vulnerable to Fe shortage because it inhibits sunlight and nitrogenase performance.

According to some documented findings, exogenous application of Fe-based nanomaterials may result in higher development than standard Fe chelates. Considering these encouraging results and soybean's proven vulnerability to nitrogen deficiency, more research into modes of action and effectiveness enhancement is necessary.

In this study, Fe2O3 nanomaterials of various sizes were used to investigate the effects of- Fe2O3 nanomaterials on soybean development, gain, and plant nutritional value compared to a traditional Fe fertilizer.

An important part was determining the main mechanism of action response pathways of soybean growths after inhalation and evaluating the effects of visibility on antioxidant properties systems and plant hormones biosynthesis. 

Key Findings of the Study

Based on the research results, various sizes of Fe2O3 nanomaterials were shown to significantly speed up the development of soybeans in a quantitative manner.

Nanomaterials derived from S-Fe2O3 displayed the largest increase, productivity, and nutritional properties enhancements, with the S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials surpassing a typical Fe fertilizer applied at an identical Fe dosage.

S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials, in contrast to M-Fe2O3 nanomaterials, L-Fe2O3 nanomaterials, and EDTA-Fe, showed superior adhesive capability on soybean leaflets as well as better Fe nourishment result into the field than the other nanomaterials tested.

It was discovered that S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials exhibited a sluggish Fe dissolving pattern as well as a higher Fe nutritional utilization efficiency than EDTA-Fe.

S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials were shown to enhance the responsiveness by modulating nitrogen fixation, the mechanism by which improved responsiveness was achieved. The presence of S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials is thought to increase carbon assimilation in clusters, resulting in increased available power for nitrification.

The presence of S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials activates parenchymal antioxidant activities systems, reducing the production of surplus oxygen species, and the existence of S-Fe2O3 nanomaterials increased the formation of growth regulators and negatively regulated the polymerization of ET and JA in growths.

These results provide substantial insight into the possibility of γ-Fe2O3 nanomaterials as an elevated and long-term farming solution, and they have important effects on agricultural policy.

Excessive use of industrial Fe and N fertilizers has been shown to have considerable harmful impacts on the environment, as well as on agricultural output, according to research.

In this research, nanomaterials containing γ-Fe2O3 showed a better fertilizer utilization rate than a standard Fe fertilizer and enhanced nitrogen fixation absorption compared to a typical Fe fertilizer.

The use of γ-Fe2O3 nanomaterials could drastically reduce the amount of Fe and N discharged into the atmosphere.

Future research should concentrate on improving material chemical characteristics and treatment methods to optimize long-term impact, especially under situations linked to climate change that would increase inorganic reactive stress concentration to critical levels.

Continue reading: How Can Nanofertilizers Resolve Nutrient Shortages?


Cao, X., Yue, L., Wang, C., Luo, X., Zhang, C., Zhao, X., & Wu, F. (2022). Foliar Application with Iron Oxide Nanomaterials Stimulate Nitrogen Fixation, Yield, and Nutritional Quality of Soybean. ACS Nano. Available at:

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Shaheer Rehan

Written by

Shaheer Rehan

Shaheer is a graduate of Aerospace Engineering from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad. He has carried out research on a wide range of subjects including Aerospace Instruments and Sensors, Computational Dynamics, Aerospace Structures and Materials, Optimization Techniques, Robotics, and Clean Energy. He has been working as a freelance consultant in Aerospace Engineering for the past year. Technical Writing has always been a strong suit of Shaheer's. He has excelled at whatever he has attempted, from winning accolades on the international stage in match competitions to winning local writing competitions. Shaheer loves cars. From following Formula 1 and reading up on automotive journalism to racing in go-karts himself, his life revolves around cars. He is passionate about his sports and makes sure to always spare time for them. Squash, football, cricket, tennis, and racing are the hobbies he loves to spend his time in.


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