Using Nanoparticles To Enhance Sustainability of Food Crops

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The only thing that can ensure sustainability of rapidly growing global population is better production of food crops. All those making efforts in this direction have been working on finding measures to grow more and more crops. The key nutrient in this case is phosphorus which enhances root development and growth and plays key role in rapid maturity of new tissues. One of the most commonly used fertilizers it is being used more and more by farmers across the world to increase crop production.

The biggest challenge in this process is that only 42 percent of total phosphorus is absorbed by the plant and rest all goes to waste. It then reaches water and leads to over growth of algae degrading the quality of water. Apart from this, Phosphorus is a non-renewable source of energy which makes its usage in fertilization of plants quite non-sustainable. As per a researcher from Washington University, Ramesh Raliya, around 82 per cent of phosphorus across the world is utilized in form of fertilizer. If we continue to utilize this element at this rate it wouldn’t survive the world pass this century.

A team of engineers and chemists might have discovered answer to this problem. The Zinc Oxide nanoparticles synthesized by this team come from a fungus that grows around plant roots and aids in nutrient absorption from soil. These particles can mainly be used for enhancing the level of enzyme activity in soil which increases the plant’s absorption capacity from soil. It will reduce the farmers’ habit of using phosphorus-based fertilizers.

The team applied nanoparticles to mung beans which lead to better development of leaves, root volume, chlorophyll contents, stem height, and leaf protein. The enhanced chlorophyll content and root volume also improved soil’s health by increasing the microbial population around the roots. The soil microflora is subject to precipitations and temperature fluctuations caused mainly due to climate change, it has resulted in extra difficulties in phosphorus absorption by plants. The team engineers hope that inclusion of these nanoparticles can help in compensating loss of this kind. 

These nanoparticles can play a huge role in South-East Asian countries where mung beans are a staple in agriculture.