The Microscopic Parts of Agriculture

Author: Jaihao Wu

Editors: Galiba Anjum and Ethan Liu

Artist: Nicole Wang

Nanotechnology is the science, engineering, and technology conducted in the nanoscale, between 1 and 100 nanometers. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. The idea of nanotechnology was birthed from a talk “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology on December 29, 1959. He suggested an idea where scientists were able to manipulate atoms, the basic unit of matter. Only later, in 1981, did Professor Norio Taniguchi coin the process as nanotechnology. When speaking on the topic, most minds drift to the agriculture industry. However, how useful is it truly?

Nanotechnology is used in agriculture to enhance food quality and safety, increase nutrient absorption, and lessen pests or harmful chemicals. Compared to traditional fertilizer, nanotechnology can directly influence a plant’s growth rate as well as certain traits beneficial to it.

There are different application methods when using nano-fertilizers. One of the common methods that exist is the encapsulation of beneficial organisms or chemicals which helps promote more growth. One major “entry” for these capsules would be the roots: root tips, lateral roots, root hairs, rhizodermis, and ruptures. The other would be through the leaves: cuticle, stomata, hydathodes, lenticels, and wounds. In addition to different entry points, there are also different ways to integrate the nutrients into the plant. There are slow releases (over a period of time), quick releases (capsule breaks on contact), specific releases (reaction with a certain enzyme or chemical), moisture releases (release in the presence of water), heat releases (release at a certain temperature), pH releases (releases only in certain acid and alkaline conditions), ultrasound releases (nanoparticle is broken by an ultrasound frequency), and magnetic releases (magnetic nanoparticle broken when exposed to a magnetic field).

Thanks to the constant improvement in this field every day, nanotechnology displays its strengths and possibilities in the field of agriculture. This potential can lead to minimizing losses for farmers, contribute to ending world hunger, and rebuilding lost plant life. Agricultural development would be more viable and efficient in the future.


Citations:

Mikkelsen, Robert. (2018). Nanofertilizer and Nanotechnology: A quick look. Better Crops

with Plant Food. 102. 18-19. 10.24047/BC102318.

Prasad, Ram et al. "Nanotechnology In Sustainable Agriculture: Recent Developments,

Challenges, And Perspectives". Frontiers In Microbiology, vol 8, 2017. Frontiers Media SA, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.01014.

"What Is Nanotechnology? | Nano". Nano.Gov, 2020, https://www.nano.gov/nanotech- 101/what/definition.

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