Department of Horticulture, S. V. Agricultural College, ANGRAU, Tirupati – 517 502, Andhra Pradesh


Nanotechnology has great potential as it can enhance the quality of life through its applications in various fields like
agriculture and the food system. In a world where the human population is growing rapidly, and agriculture industry is facing
challenges such as stagnation in crop yields, low nutrient use efficiency, declining soil organic matter, multi-nutrient deficiencies,
climate change, shrinking arable land and water availability, post harvest losses and shortage of labour and thereby food security
is a very important problem in near future. Now, increasing agricultural production efficiency and decreasing post harvest
wastage using novel scientific researches such as nanotechnology in products could be counted as the best solution to this
problem. Nanotechnology using of particular characteristics of nanoparticles can be a very useful technology in all science and
industry branches. So now a lot of usage of nanotechnology in agricultural science has been founded. In relation with crop
production, crop protection, storage, post harvest shelf life and marketing, nanotechnology can help us in some grounds like
balanced crop nutrition, effective pest, disease and weed control, water management, product quality maintenance, product
tracking and labeling, precision agriculture and agricultural waste management.
KEYWORDS: Nanotechnology, Agriculture, Applications


Nanotechnology was first introduced in 1960’s by Dr. Richard Feynman. Since then scientists are working
on it and have developed many technologies and applications of nano science. Nanotechnology, which
deals with the matter at nanoscale (1-100 nm), is commonly referred to as a generic technology that offers
better-built, safer, long-lasting, cost-effective and smart
products that will find wide applications in household,
communications, medicine, agriculture and food industry,
amongst others. Nanotechnology-based products and its
applications in agriculture include nano-fertilizers, nanoherbicides,
nano-pesticides, recalcitrant contaminants
from water, nano-scale carriers, nanosensors, detection
of nutrient deficiencies, preservation, photocatalysis,
nanobarcode, quantum dots etc. This fast growing
technology is already having a significant commercial
impact, which will certainly increase in the future. While
nanotechnologies offer many opportunities for innovation,
the use of nanomaterials in food and agriculture has also
raised a number of safety, environmental, ethical, policy
and regulatory issues.
Agricultural scientists are facing a wide spectrum of
challenges such as stagnation in crop yields, low nutrient
use efficiency, declining soil organic matter, multi-nutrient
deficiencies, climate change, shrinking arable land and
water availability and shortage of labour besides exodus
of people from farming. In spite of immense constraints
faced, we need to attain a sustainable growth in agriculture
at the rate of 4% to meet the food security challenges. To
address these problems, there is a need to explore one of
the frontier technologies such as ‘Nanotechnology’ to
precisely detect and deliver the correct quantity of
nutrients and pesticides that promote productivity while
ensuring environmental safety and higher use efficiency.
The nanotechnology can be exploited in the value chain
of entire agriculture production system (Subramanian and
Tarafdar, 2011). The nanotechnology aided applications
have the potential to change agricultural production by
allowing better management and conservation of inputs
of crop production. A survey by Salamanca–Buentella et
al. (2008) predicted several nanotechnology applications
for agricultural production for developing countries within
next 10 years. These included – (i) Nano forms zeolites
for slow release and efficient dosage of water and
fertilizers for plants; nanocapsules and herbicide delivery
(ii) Nanosensors for soil quality and for plant health
monitoring; nanosensors for pests detection (iii)
Nanomagnets for removal of soil contaminants and (iv)
Nanoparticles for new pesticides, insecticides, and insect
repellents.The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
has opened up an exclusive platform to target
Nanotechnology Applications in Agriculture. The ICAR
– Nanotechnology Platform encompasses major themes
such as synthesis of nano-particles for agricultural use,
quick diagnostic kits for early detection of pests and
diseases, nano-pheromones for effective pest control, nano
agri-inputs for enhanced use efficiencies, precision water
management, stabilization of organic matter in soil, nano
food systems and bio safety besides establishing the policy
frame work. Green-synthesis and microbial synthesis of
nanomaterials for their agricultural use may be very
important as they are naturally encapsulated with mother
protein, therefore, more stable and safer to biological
system. At present in India research is mainly concentrated
on nano particle synthesis, smart release of nutrients from
nano-fertilizers, nano-induced polysaccharide powder for
moisture retention/soil aggregation and C build up,
regulated release of active ingredients from nanoencapsulated
herbicides, nano-seed invigoration, and slow
and steady release of pesticides, nano-film for extended
shelf-life of perishables and nano-remediation of soil and
aquatic pollutants. These are cutting-edge researchable
areas which are expected to expand in the years to come.
However, if the nano products and the processes for
creating them are not managed judiciously, there could
be serious health and environmental risks.
Application of Nanotechnology in Agricultural fields
Nanotechnology in Horticulture
Investigation confirms that application of
nanotechnology in the horticulture was first in the fruit
packaging and later in other areas such as tracking, tracing,
storage and distribution. Currently, most nanotechnology
applications in the horticultural supply chain are
concentrated in packaging, mainly in the improvement
of packaging materials for product security, quality and
safety. The FAO put the global food losses and wastages
during 2012 at 30– 40% and in developing countries more
than 40% of the food losses occur at post-harvest and
processing levels. In horticultural commodities, there are
five stages at which post-harvest losses occur –
production/harvest, post-harvest handling and storage,
processing, distribution and consumption. Post-harvest
losses represent a waste of resources used in production
such as land, water, energy and inputs. Nanotechnology
offers great scope not only to reduce the post harvest
wastage but also aids in increasing the production
efficiency. Nanotechnology has already associated with
supply chain management, food quality, processing,
preservation, vase life, handling, packaging and food
safety. Nanocomposite polymers, antimicrobial packaging
and nano packaging products are already in the market
(Table 1). Using electro-spinning methodology, strong and
naturally antimicrobial nanofibers were produced for
developing the “green” food packaging (Neethirajan and
Jayas, 2011). The novel edible films can be value-added
by addition of functional ingredients as encapsulated
nutraceuticals like vitamins, water-insoluble flavonoids,
and other flavor/color enhancing phytochemicals,
antioxidants like anthocyanins, carotenoids for avoiding
discoloration of the cut surface and antimicrobial agents
like bacteriocins (natural), biogenic nanoparticles of silver,
titanium, or zinc (inorganic synthesized) to curb the
growth of spoilage causing microbes (Rojas-Grau et al.,
2009; Janjarasskul and Krochta, 2010; Oms-Oilu et al.,
2010). Postharvest treatments with nano-silver
significantly improve water relations and therefore
prolong the vase life of several cut flowers. Nano silver
and Nano copper ions in combination adapted from Miller
and Senjen (2008) with biocides have been helpful in
extending the vase life and quality of cut flowers like
rose (Barbaz et al., 2013), gerbera (Mousa et al., 2009),
lilium (Maryam et al., 2013) and tuberose (Asgari et al.,
2013). Fruit ethylene efflux can be measured with great
accuracy in a short period of time using nanotechnology
in fruits like apple, avocado pear and kiwi which helps to
open new avenues for the researchers which is otherwise
could not be possible due to lack of real-time measurement
equipments. Green tea with nano-packing, had better
maintenance of vitamin C, chlorophyll, polyphenols and
aminoacids than with normal packing (Hu and Fu, 2003).
Nanotechnology in seed science
Seed is most important input determining
productivity of any crop. Conventionally, seeds are tested
for germination and distributed to farmers for sowing. In
spite of the fact that seed testing is done in well equipped
laboratories, it is hardly reproduced in the field due to the
inadequate moisture under rainfed conditions. In India,
more than 60% of the net area sown is rainfed; hence, it
is quite appropriate to develop technologies for rainfed
agriculture. A group of research workers is currently
working on metal oxide nano-particles and carbon
nanotube to improve the germination of rainfed crops.
Khodakovskaya et al. (2009) have reported the use of
carbon nanotube for improving the germination of tomato
seeds through better permeation of moisture. Their data
show that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) serve as new pores
for water permeation by penetration of seed coat and act
as a passage to channelize the water from the substrate
into the seeds. These processes facilitate germination
which can be exploited in rainfed agricultural system.
Biosensors help in seed storage as seeds during storage
emit several volatile aldehydes that determine the degree
of ageing. These gases are harmful to even other
seeds. Such volatile aldehydes can be detected and seeds
showing signs of deterioration can be separated and
invigorated prior to their use. Hence this technique can
be employed in storage decision making.
Nano-fertilizers for balanced crop nutrition
In India, fertilizers, along with quality seed and
irrigation, are mainly responsible for enhanced food grain
production (55 mt) in 1960s to (254 mt) in 2011 coinciding
with the spectacular increase in fertilizer consumptions
from 0.5 mt to 23 mt, respectively. It has been conclusively
demonstrated that fertilizer contributes to the tune of 35-
40 per cent of the productivity of any crop. Considering
its importance, the Government of India is heavily
subsidising the cost of fertilizers particularly urea. This
has resulted in imbalanced fertilization and occurrence
in some areas, nitrate pollution of ground waters due to
excessive nitrogen application. In the past few decades,
use efficiencies of N, P and K fertilizers have remained
constant as 30-35%, 18-20% and 35-40%, respectively,
leaving a major portion of added fertilizers to accumulate
in the soil or enter into aquatic system causing
eutrophication. In order to address issues of low fertilizer
use efficiency, imbalanced fertilization, multi-nutrient
deficiencies and decline of soil organic matter, it is
important to evolve a nano-based fertilizer formulation
with multiple functions. Nano-fertilizer technology is very
innovative but scantily reported in the literature. However,
some of the reports and patents strongly suggest that there
is a vast scope for the formulation of nano-fertilizers.
Significant increase in yields has been observed due to
foliar application of nano particles as fertilizer (Tarafdar,
2012; Tarafdar et al. 2012a). It was shown that 640 mg/
ha foliar application of nanophosphorus gave 80 kg/ ha P
equivalent yield of cluster bean and pearl millet under
arid environment. Similarly, nano-based ZnO application
in peanut (Prasad et al. 2012) and maize (Venkatasubbaiah
et al. 2016) has enhanced the yield. It was also reported
for the first time that nano-based Ca had greater mobility
in the phloem tissues, as bulk Ca is immobile (Deepa et
al., 2015) Currently, research is underway to develop
nano-composites to supply all the required essential
nutrients in suitable proportion through smart delivery
system. Preliminary results suggest that balanced
fertilization may be achieved through nanotechnology
(Tarafdar et al., 2012b). Indeed the metabolic assimilation
within the plant biomass of the metals, e.g., micronutrients,
applied as Nano-formulations through soil-borne and
foliar application or otherwise needs to be ascertained.
Further, the Nano-composites being contemplated to
supply all the nutrients in right proportions through the
“Smart” delivery systems also needs to be examined
closely. Currently, the nitrogen use efficiency is low due
to the loss of 50-70% of the nitrogen supplied in
conventional fertilizers. New nutrient delivery systems
that exploit the porous nanoscale parts of plants could
reduce nitrogen loss by increasing plant uptake. Fertilizers
encapsulated in nanoparticles will increase the uptake of
nutrients (Tarafdar et al., 2012c). In the next generation
of nanofertilizers, the release of the nutrients can be
triggered by an environmental condition or simply
released at desired specific time.
Nano-herbicide for effective weed control
Weeds are menace in agriculture. Since two-third of
Indian agriculture is rainfed farming where usage of
herbicide is very limited, weeds have the potential to
jeopardize the total harvest in the delicate agroecosystems.
Herbicides available in the market are
designed to control or kill the above ground part of the
weed plants. None of the herbicides inhibits activity of
viable belowground plant parts like rhizomes or tubers,
which act as a source for new weeds in the ensuing season.
Soils infested with weeds and weed seeds are likely to
produce lower yields than soils where weeds are
controlled. Improvements in the efficacy of herbicides
through the use of nanotechnology could result in greater
production of crops. The encapsulated nano-herbicides
are relevant, keeping in view the need to design and
produce a nano-herbicide that is protected under natural
environment and acts only when there is a spell of rainfall,
which truly mimics the rainfed system. Developing a
target specific herbicide molecule encapsulated with
nanoparticle is aimed for specific receptor in the roots of
target weeds, which enter into roots system and
translocated to parts that inhibit glycolysis of food reserve
in the root system. This will make the specific weed plant
to starve for food and gets killed (Chinnamuthu and
Kokiladevi, 2007). Adjuvants for herbicide application
are currently available that claim to include nanomaterials.
One nanosurfactant based on soybean micelles has been
reported to make glyphosate-resistant crops susceptible
to glyphosate when it is applied with the ‘nanotechnologyderived
Persistence of pesticides in the initial stage of crop
growth helps in bringing down the pest population below
the economic threshold level and to have an effective
control for a longer period. Hence, the use of active
ingredients in the applied surface remains one of the most
cost-effective and versatile means of controlling insect
pests. In order to protect the active ingredient from the
adverse environmental conditions and to promote
persistence, a nanotechnology approach, namely “nanoencapsulation”
can be used to improve the insecticidal
value. Nano-encapsulation comprises nano-sized particles
of the active ingredients being sealed by a thin-walled
sac or shell (protective coating). Previously pheromones
were combined with water-based gels (hydrogels), but
this proved to be ineffective as the hydrogels either got
evaporated due to exposure to heat and air or were washed
away during monsoon. Recently, a pheromone-based
nanogel to attract and trap the fruit flies in guava was
developed. (Bhagat et al., 2013 and Ipsita, 2014).
Nano-encapsulation of insecticides, fungicides or
nematicides will help in producing a formulation which
offers effective control of pests while preventing
accumulation of residues in soil. In order to protect the
active ingredient from degradation and to increase
persistence, a nanotechnology approach of “controlled
release of the active ingredient” may be used to improve
effectiveness of the formulation that may greatly decrease
amount of pesticide input and associated environmental
hazards. Nano-pesticides will reduce the rate of
application because the quantity of product actually being
effective is at least 10-15 times smaller than that applied
with classical formulations, hence a much smaller than
the normal amount could be required to have much better
and prolonged management. Several pesticide
manufacturers are developing pesticides encapsulated in
nanoparticles (OECD and Allianz, 2008). These pesticides
may be time released or released upon the occurrence of
an environmental trigger (for example, temperature,
humidity and light). It is unclear whether these pesticide
products will be commercially available in the short-term.
Plant diseases are major factors limiting crop yields.
The problem with the disease management lies with the
detection of the exact stage of prevention. Most of the
time appropriate plant protection chemicals are applied
to the crop as a precautionary measure leading to avoidable
environmental hazards, or else applications are made after
the appearance of the disease symptoms, thereby causing
some amount of crop losses. Among the different diseases,
the viral diseases are the most difficult to control, as one
has to stop the spread of the disease by the vectors. But
once it starts showing its symptoms, pesticide application
would not be of much use. Therefore, detection of the
exact stage such as stage of viral DNA replication or the
production of initial viral protein is the key to the success
of control of viral diseases. Nano-based viral diagnostics,
including multiplexed diagnostics kits development, have
taken momentum in order to detect the exact strain of
virus and the stage of application of some therapeutic to
stop the disease. Detection and utilization of biomarkers,
that accurately indicate disease stages, is also an emerging
area of research in bio-Nanotechnology. Measuring
differential protein production in both healthy and
diseased states leads to the identification of the
development of several proteins during the infection cycle.
Clay nanotubes (halloysite) have been developed as
carriers of pesticides at low cost, for extended release and
better contact with plants, and they will reduce the amount
of pesticides by 70-80%, thereby reducing the cost of
pesticide with minimum impact on water streams.
Nanotechnology in water management
Nanotechology, offers the potential of novel
nanomaterials for the treatment of surface water,
groundwater and wastewater contaminated by toxic metal
ions, organic and inorganic solutes and microorganisms.
Due to their unique activity towards recalcitrant
contaminants many nanomaterials are under research and
development for use for water purification. To maintain
public health, pathogens in water need to be identified
rapidly and reliably. Unfortunately, traditional laboratory
tests are time consuming. Faster methods involving
enzymes, immunological or genetic tests are under
development. Water filtration may be improved with the
use of nanofiber membranes and the use of nanobiocides,
which appear promisingly effective. Biofilms
contaminating potable water are mats of bacteria wrapped
in natural polymers which are difficult to treat with
antimicrobials or other chemicals. They can be cleaned
up only mechanically, which cost substantial down-time
and labour. Work is in progress to develop enzyme
treatments that may be able to break down such biofilms.
Nano-scale carriers
Nanoscale carriers can be utilized for the efficient
delivery of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, plant growth
regulators, etc. The mechanisms involved in the efficient
delivery, better storage and controlled release include:
encapsulation and entrapment, polymers and dendrimers,
surface ionic and weak bond attachments among others.
These help to improve stability against degradation in the
environment and ultimately reduce the amount to be
applied, which reduces chemical runoff and alleviates
environmental problems. These carriers can be designed
in such a way that they can anchor plant roots to the
surrounding soil constituents and organic matter. This can
only be possible if we unravel the molecular and
conformational mechanisms between the nanoscale
delivery and targeted structures, and soil fractions. Such
advances as and when they happen will help in slowing
the uptake of active ingredients, thereby reducing the
amount of inputs to be used and also the waste produced.
Biosensors to detect nutrients and contaminants
Protection of the soil health and the environment
requires the rapid, sensitive detection of pollutants and
pathogens with molecular precision. Soil fertility
evaluation is being carried out for the past sixty years
with the same set of protocols which may be obsolete for
the current production systems and in the context of
precision farming approaches. Accurate sensors are
needed for in situ detection, as miniaturized portable
devices, and as remote sensors, for the real-time
monitoring of large areas in the field. These instruments
are able to reduce the time required for lengthy microbial
testing and immunoassays. Application of these
instruments includes detection of contaminants in different
bodies such as water supplies, raw food materials and
food products. Enzymes can act as a sensing element as
these are very specific in attachment to certain
biomolecules. Electronic nose (E-nose) is used to identify
different types of odours; it uses a pattern of response
across an array of gas sensors. It can identify the odorant,
estimate the concentration of the odorant and find
characteristic properties of the odour in the same way as
might be perceived by the human nose. It mainly consists
of gas sensors which are composed of nanoparticles e.g.
ZnO nanowires. Their resistance changes with the passage
of a certain gas and generates a change in electrical signal
that forms the fingerprint pattern for gas detection.
Smart delivery systems
Nanoscale devices are envisioned that would have
the capability to detect and treat diseases, nutrient
deficiencies or any other maladies in crops long before
symptoms were visually exhibited. “Smart Delivery
Systems” for agriculture can possess timely controlled,
spatially targeted, self-regulated, remotely regulated, preprogrammed,
or multi-functional characteristics to avoid
biological barriers to successful targeting. Smart delivery
systems can monitor the effects of delivery of nutrients
or bioactive molecules or any pesticide molecules. This
is widely used in health sciences wherein nanoparticles
are exploited to deliver required quantities of medicine
to the place of need in human system. In the smart delivery
system, a small sealed package carries the drug which
opens up only when the desirable location or infection
site of the human or animal system is reached. This would
allow judicious use of antibiotics than otherwise would
be possible.
Nanodevices for Identity Preservation (IP) and
Tracking: One of the major constraints in Indian
agriculture is the quality maintenance of agricultural
produce. Proper monitoring of production system through
nanotechnology will be appropriate to promote quality
and make a clear distinction with organic products.
Identity Preservation (IP) is a system that creates increased
value by providing customers with information about
practices and activities used to produce a particular crop
or other agricultural products. Certifying inspectors can
take advantage of IP as a better way of recording,
verifying, and certifying agricultural practices.
Through IP, it is possible to provide stakeholders and
consumers with access to information, records and
supplier protocols. Quality assurance of agricultural
products safety and security could be significantly
improved through IP at the nano-scale. Nano-scale IP
holds the possibility of continuous tracking and recording
of the history which a particular agricultural product
experiences. The nano-scale monitors may be linked to
the recording and the tracking devices to improve identity
preservation of food and agricultural products. The IP
system is highly useful to discriminate organic versus
conventional agricultural products.
Nanolignocellulosic materials: Recently, nanosized
lignocellulosic materials have been obtained from crops
and trees which had opened up a new market for
innovative and value-added nano-sized materials and
products, e.g. nano-sized cellulosic crystals have been
used as lightweight reinforcement in polymeric matrix
(Mathew et al., 2010). These can be applied in food and
other packaging, construction, and transportation vehicle
body structures. Cellulosic nano-whisker production
technology from wheat straw has been developed by the
Michigan Biotechnology Incorporate (MBI) International,
and is expected to make biocomposites that could
substitute for fiber glass and plastics in many applications,
including automative parts (Liestritz, et al., 2007). For
the commercialization of this technology, North Dakota
State University (NDSU), USA is currently engaged in a
Photocatalysis: One of the processes using
nanoparticles is photocatalysis. The mechanism of this
reaction is that when nanoparticles of specific compounds
are subjected to UV light, the electrons in the outermost
shell (valence electrons) are excited resulting in the
formation of electron hole pairs, i.e. negative electrons
and positive holes. Due to their large surface-to-volume
ratio, these have very efficient rates of degradation and
disinfection. As the size of the particles decrease, surface
atoms are increased, which results in tremendous increase
in chemical reactivity and other physico-chemical
properties related to some specific conditions such as
photocatalysis, photoluminescence, etc. So this process
can be used for the decomposition of many toxic
compounds such as pesticides, which take a long time to
degrade under normal conditions. Nanoparticles can be
used for the bioremediation of resistant or slowly
degradable compounds like pesticides. The removal of
toxins from wastewater is an emerging issue due to its
effects on living organisms. Many strategies have been
applied for wastewater treatment with little success.
Photocatalysis can be used for purification,
decontamination and deodorization of air. It has been
found that semiconductor sensitized photosynthetic and
photocatalytic processes can be used for the removal of
organics, destruction of cancer cells, bacteria and viruses.
Application of photocatalytic degradation has gained
popularity in the area of wastewater treatment.
Nanobarcode technology: In our daily life,
identification tags have been applied in wholesale
agriculture and livestock products. Due to their small size,
nanoparticles have been applied in many fields ranging
from advanced biotechnology to agricultural encoding.
Nanobarcodes (> 1 million) have been applied in
multiplexed bioassays and general encoding because of
their possibility of formation of a large number of
combinations that render them attractive for this purpose.
The UV lamp and optical microscope are used for the
identification of micrometer-sized glass barcodes which
are formed by doping with rare earth containing a specific
type of pattern of different fluorescent materials. The
particles to be utilized in nanobarcodes should be easily
encodable, machine readable, durable, sub-micron sized
taggant particles. For the manufacture of these
nanobarcode particles, the process is semi-automated and
highly scalable, involving the electro plating of inert
metals (gold, silver, etc.) into templates defining particle
diameter, and then the resulting striped nanorods from
the templates are released. Nanobarcodes have been used
as ID tags for multiplexed analysis of gene expression
and intracellular histopathology. In the near future, more
effective identification and utilization of plant gene trait
resources is expected to introduce rapid and cost effective
capability through advances in nanotechnology-based
gene sequencing. Nanobarcodes serve as uniquely
identifiable nanoscale tags and have been applied for nonbiological
applications such as for authentication or
tracking in agricultural food and husbandry products. Such
nanobarcode technology will enable one to develop new
auto-ID technologies for the tagging of items previously
not practical to tag with conventional barcodes. With the
enhanced importance of traceability in food trade, such
technologies will be helpful in promoting biosafe
international food trade.
Wireless nanosensors for precision agriculture:
Crop growth and field conditions like moisture level, soil
fertility, temperature, crop nutrient status, insects, plant
diseases, weeds, etc. can be monitored through
advancement in nanotechnology. Such real-time
monitoring is done by employing networks of wireless
nano-sensors across the cultivated fields, providing
essential data for agronomic processes like optimal time
of planting and harvesting of the crops. It is also helpful
for monitoring the time and amount of water application,
fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other treatments. This
has moved precision agriculture to a much higher level
of control, for instance, in water usage, leading eventually
to conservation of water. More precise water delivery
systems are likely to be developed in the near future. The
factors critical for such development include water
storage, in situ water holding capacity, water distribution
near roots, water absorption efficiency of plants,
encapsulated water released on demand, and interaction
with field intelligence through nano-sensor systems.
Nanoparticles and recycling agricultural waste:
Nanotechnology is also applied to prevent waste in
agriculture, particularly in the cotton industry. When
cotton is processed into fabric or garment, some of the
cellulose or the fibers are discarded as waste or used for
low-value products such as cotton balls, yarns and cotton
batting. With the use of newly-developed solvents and a
technique called electrospinning, scientists produce 100
nanometer diameter fibers that can be used as a fertilizer
or pesticide absorbent. These high-performance
absorbents allow targeted application at desired time and
location. Ethanol production from maize feedstocks has
increased the global price of maize in the past two years.
Cellulosic feedstocks are now regarded as a viable option
for biofuels production and nanotechnology can also
enhance the performance of enzymes used in the
conversion of cellulose into ethanol. Scientists are
working on nano-engineered enzymes that will allow
simple and cost-effective conversion of cellulose from
waste plant parts into ethanol. Rice husk, a rice-milling
byproduct can be used as a source of renewable energy.
When rice husk is burned into thermal energy or biofuel,
a large amount of high-quality nano-silica is produced
which can be further utilized in making other materials
such as glass and concrete. Since there is a continuous
source of rice husk, mass production of nano-silica
through nanotechnology can alleviate the growing rice
husk disposal concern.
Nanotechnology is a new science promising great
potential in agriculture. The changing climate, sustainable
use of natural resources, environmental factors,
urbanization, agricultural waste disposal, accumulation
of pesticides and over use fertilizers are the most important
problems of modern agriculture. New techniques and
methods have been used in order to avoid the detrimental
effects of these factors. Nanotechnology clearly has the
potential to dramatically impact and improve agriculture
with new tools for the enhancing the ability of plants to
absorb nutrients, molecular treatment of diseases, rapid
disease detection, etc. Smart sensors and smart delivery
systems will help the agricultural industry combat viruses
and other crop pathogens. In the near future nano
structured catalysts will be available which will increase
the efficiency of pesticides and herbicides, allowing lower
doses to be used. Nanotechnology will also protect the
environment indirectly through the use of alternative
(renewable) energy supplies, and filters or catalysts to
reduce pollution and clean-up existing pollutants.