What is Nano Fertilizer? How do Nano Fertilizers work?
The word “Nano” comes from ancient Greek and means “Dwarf” (nanos means dwarf), used as a prefix “nano” denotes 10⁹, that is “one-billionth”, so a nanometer is equal to a billionth of a meter (1nM = 0.000000001), a single strand of hair is about 80,000 nanometer so you can imagine how small the nano scale actually is!
A nanofertilizer, is any product that delivers nutrients to plants on a nano scale. There are three main routes of delivery at the nano scale — inside nanotubes or nanoporous materials, coated with a thin protective polymer film or delivered as particle and emulsions of nanoscale dimension (<100nM).
Nitrogen is an integral nutrient source for food, biomass and fibre production in agriculture, however the Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) by crops is very low, 50–70% of the nitrogen applied through conventional fertilizer is lost owing to leaching in the form of water soluble nitrates, emissions of gaseous ammonia and nitrogen oxides. Many attempts have been made to increase the NUE with little success paving the way to apply nanotechnology to solve this problem.
In addition to increasing the NUE, nanotechnology has been used for controlled release of chemical compounds, improved yields by conventional fertilizers and used as bactericidal additives.
Nanoparticles have high surface area, sorption capacity, and controlled-release kinetics.Nanostructured fertilizers can increase the nutrient use efficiency through mechanisms such as targeted delivery, slow or controlled release in responding to environmental triggers and biological demands. More research and funding is required to optimize these smart delivery systems and cater to the ever increasing food needs of billions of people worldwide.