Nano-Agriculture – Talk to Your Plants
With the help of nanotechnology, one day we all may be able to communicate with our houseplants. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Lowry: One role or one potential opportunity for nanotechnology is to integrate them into plants and it allows you to understand or allows you have your plant talk to you.
Greg Lowry is a Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Lowry: So just imagine if your houseplant could tell you it was thirsty or it needed nitrogen before it wilted or turned brown. Nanotechnology actually offers a way to do this now. So with certain nano materials like carbon nanotubes, you can embed them into the plant leaves. What they do is they turn a chemical signal that the plant makes when it’s under stress into a signal that allows you to communicate with the plant, say using your cell phone. So you can walk by this plant; your cell phone could tell you – could communicate with the plant. The plants telling you, “I need nitrogen”. You can apply nitrogen to that plant. You can imagine that you get information now on plants at pretty high spatial resolution. So many plants in your crop area. And you can start to apply nitrogen to only the areas of your crop where it’s needed or apply water only to the areas of the of the crop where it’s needed, and that lets you be much more efficient in the use of your inputs.
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.