Nano-Fertilizers – a Quantum leap into the future of farming

Nano Fertilizers – the Future of agriculture – what are nano fertilizers, their advantage and IFFCO coming up with Nano Fertilizer Liquid – a welcome move

A Quantum Leap in the Future of Farming- Nano-Fertilizers

The world population is estimated to exceed 9.7 billion by 2050 (FAO, 2018). Accordingly, it has been anticipated that current crop production needs to be increased by up to 70% to satisfy future food demands (Hunter et al., 2017). This great challenge will require combined efforts to preserve natural resources to support intensive agriculture while limiting detrimental impact on the environment (Lee et al., 2006Hunter et al., 2017Xie et al., 2019), like triggering eutrophication of waters, soil acidification, and biodiversity loss (Banger et al., 2017).

The continuous exploration of innovative solutions has led to the synthesis of novel nanomaterials, resulting in a powerful tool for the development of new technological products. 

Nano-fertilizers are one of the most promising engineered materials that are being tested, either for soil or foliar applications. Encouraging results have been obtained using nano-fertilizers in different plant species, however, limited information has been reported about its use in grasslands. 

Commonly, N is applied to grassland soils as granular fertilizers, which may result in significant losses via surface runoff or leaching, ammonia (NH3) volatilization and N oxides (N2O, NO, NOx) emissions. Nitrogen nano-fertilizers are expected to increase NUE (Nitrogen Use Efficiency) by improving the effectiveness of N delivery to plants and reducing N losses to the environment. 

Information on the efficiency of the use of N nano-fertilizers in grasslands species is scarce and the application strategies that can be used to avoid N losses are poorly understood. New scenarios of increasing economic and environmental constraints may represent an opportunity for N nano-fertilizers application in grasslands. 

An innovative approach to improve NUE and reduce N losses to the wider environment is required in analyzing the potential shortcomings and future considerations for animal food chains. The future development and adoption of these molecules as an answer for increasing food production with higher nutrient efficiency will need to balance economic and environmental costs of production with the potential reduction of environmental impact and yield increases. 

The need to validate the pros and cons of nano-fertilizers under representative field grasslands conditions to address the questions arising from stakeholders also remains as a pending task before the widespread adoption of this technology.