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Materials Planet Care

307: Pesticide eco-friendly

Problem:

Chemical pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, produced from chemical alteration can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including, humans, birds, fish, beneficial insects such as bees, and non-target plants. Examples of acute health effects include stinging eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and death.

Solution:

Nanopesticides offer hope of a more environmentally-friendly approach.

Nanopesticides are plant protection products where nanotechnology is employed to enhance the efficacy or reduce the environmental footprint of a pesticide active ingredient. It is such a young solution that, in the European Union, silicon dioxide (SiO2) is the only active substance with an approval for use as a nanomaterial in biocidal products.

Bacterial leaf blight of rice caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) is a major disease of rice, leading to reduction in production by 10–50%. In order to control this disease, various chemical bactericides have been used. Wide and prolonged application of chemical bactericides resulted in the resistant strain of Xoo that was isolated from rice.

To address this problem, Chinese researchers at both the College of Materials and Energy, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou and the College of Agriculture, Shihezi University, Xinjiang were searching for an environmentally friendly alternative to the commonly used chemical bactericides.

They found that silicon dioxide nanospheres loaded with silver nanoparticles (SiO2-Ag) can be prepared by using rice husk as base material precursor. The results of the antibacterial tests showed that SiO2-Ag composites displayed antibacterial activity against Xoo.

Nano technology can also be used to create e-friendly fertilisers. In 2019, Researchers at Egypt’s National Research Centre in Cairo produced a nano-fertiliser from banana peels. They used potassium hydroxide as the extracting agent at optimum operating conditions (solid to liquid ratio 1:2, temperature 100 °C, and cooking time 30 min).

The product was applied in agriculture of two crops, tomato and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). Their findings revealed that germination percentage increased with increasing dose of banana peel extract for both crops. For tomato crop, the germination percentage was increased from 14% (control without nano) to 97% after 7 days of plantation. Also, the same trend was noticed for fenugreek crop, the germination percentage was enhanced from 25% (control without nano) to 93.14%.

Discover Solution 308: Retrofitting vehicles to electric propulsion

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