Nano-Agriculture – Immunizing
With the help of nanotechnology, scientists are finding ways to help plants absorb fertilizers and nutrients more efficiently. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Lowry: So an application to make things more efficient is to create nano materials that have temperature responsive or pH-responsive properties.
Greg Lowry is a Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Lowry: And then you could also imagine if you have a temperature or a pH responsive agrochemical,that we could load them into the plants. Think of it like immunization of a plant. You add this chemical; the plant is now protected. When the temperature goes up, the temperature responsive material releases the ingredient or the nutrient that the plant needs to overcome that stress. And overall that will lower the loss of plants to drought or to heat waves and make agriculture more efficient. And then managers can also be used to improve soil function. So for example, we can add the nanomaterials to the soil. The nanomaterial can affect the soil microbiome. And the microbiome are the microorganisms in soil that help the plant to take up nutrients. If we can use the nanomaterials to change the microbiome, to make sure that the beneficial microbes are present, the plants can use those nutrients much more efficiently than without that manipulation.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation. A heads-up that yours truly has written a book – a work of fiction. Check out our Facebook page for more details. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.