Nanotechnology is scientific approach for material usage and manipulation done at molecular level in chemical and physical properties. This is similar to biotechnology and genetic engineering level except for its minuet nano level.Nanotechnology in agriculture is for manipulating genetic and molecular processes for development of product and for agriculture as it is the backbone of many countries.
How to improve crop yield?
Nanotechnology can revolutionize agricultural industry with new molecular tools. It can enhance plant ability for nutrient absorption. So, Nanotechnology can increase our understanding of various crops biology thus increasing their yield. Nanotechnology not only can detect the pathogen or virus on plant but also help in detection through monitoring, integrating sensing and controlling system can even detect disease in plant.
In future, nano structures catalysts will increase herbicides and pesticides efficiency thus lower dosage would be used. Nanotechnology would help in maintaining pollution free environment by use of renewable resources and filters.
Nanotechnology-Research & Development
Currently, main focus of research is on applications in field of energy, electronic and medicines. Till now the nanotechnology in agriculture is theoretical but work has begun for function product development. Moreover, many countries already use CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) technique. This technique enables the growth of plant in controlled environment. This comes with computerized monitors which control environment and is hydroponic based agriculture. Thus, optimizes the plant growth.
Nano Sensor Devices & Techniques
For delivering the hormones and nutrients to plants global positioning and nano material are used which detect any pest or stress the plant is facing. Nano sensors can sense plant viruses and nutrients in soil. Slow release fertilizers which are nano-encapsulated fertilizers are used that minimize the consumption of fertilizers.
Agricultural quality can be checked through Nano processing and Nano bar-codes that tag pathogens and help in detection by fluorescence. Plant regulation hormone auxin can also be studied by the help of biosensor as they are involved in root growth. Sensors also help in detecting contaminants as pests, microbes, stress, insect or temperature thus signals the farmer to take appropriate steps.
Monitoring Devices for Improving Crop Yield
Nano sensors enhance the productivity of soil by even distribution in whole field. Even Nano enabled water is based on Nano porous ceramics, carbon nano tubes thus help in removing toxicants, contaminants, metal like lead and pathogens from water thus provide with clean water.
Nano magnets have their use for separating arsenic from water such as Fe3O4 (monodisperse magnetite) a Nano crystal. On the other hand, Nano particles of Zinc oxide can also be employed for arsenic purification other of these particles are titanium dioxide, enzymes, fibers etc.
Nano Scale Encapsulation of Herbicides
Nanotechnology has its role in herbicides and pesticides through encapsulations and delivering them in soil. This leads to enhanced production and also reduce the pollution or injury to a worker. Formulations are made in such a way that they range from 100 to 250 nm and are dissolved in water effectively even Nano-emulsions are made that are oil or water based suspension of herbicidal or pesticide particles.
Zeolites & Photo Catalysts
One other product of nanotechnology is zeolites to help in water infiltration and to maintain soil retention by porous property of soil. As a wetting agent, it will distribute water evenly in dry soil. Water retention in sandy soil and porosity increases resulting in improved crop production.
Nanotechnology has developed photo catalysts such as TiO2 titanium dioxide that destroy bacteria. TiO2 gets active only with UV light exposure. Thus, the surface remains clean. For elimination of weeds Nano-herbicides blends well in soil to kills weed in an eco-friendly way.
Control of Plant Diseases
Nano-silver particle can control and reduce plant infections by pathogens. Silver has inhibitory effect towards microbes and have high fraction of area and atoms which enhances the antimicrobial effect. Nanotechnology played its role in crop biotechnology by producing 3nm of silica Nano particles, coated with gene and used for delivering those genes into plant. This experiments has been successful for corn and tobacco plants.
These application can improve crops productivity and workers do not have to remove weeds by hand. Organic farming is a desired goal that increase crop yield with minimum of input such as pesticides, farmers etc. Remote sensing, GPS and computers sense the environmental conditions. This will help in gathering prior information about the soil an seed thus lower the production cost.
New technology inventions always have ethical issues and risks that come along with it. Researchers can overcome these issues by giving awareness to public on challenges and advantages of nanotechnology, to make it publicly acceptable. Application of nanotechnology in food and agriculture is still is early stages and many applications may develop in future. Nano particles attract researchers to study development of more of these sensors in agriculture or healthcare. The aim of this new research is to make plant use pesticides, water and fertilizers efficiently and ecofriendly. Nanotechnology in agriculture will enhance life and improve the quality of food. Nano science in agriculture is vague due to people response toward GM crops thus awareness has to be provided. If we overcome this jagged outline present in our society then we could achieve beneficial and bright future at the door step of a common man.