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Nanoparticles of Zinc Oxide Boost Crop Growth

Posted June 08, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Because food crops need phosphorus, farmers are using more phosphorus-based fertilizer to increase crop production, especially in developing regions of the world. However, plants use less than half of the phosphorus applied to the soil; the rest runs off into streams where it grows algae that pollutes water resources. Zinc oxide nanoparticles, it turns out, have been shown to boost the uptake of the phosphorus by nearly 11% in protein-rich beans. Scientists hope the nanoparticles will yield more crop production with less phosphorus-based fertilizer.


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Guru

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#1

Re: Nanoparticles of Zinc Oxide Boost Crop Growth

06/09/2016 3:40 AM

Zinc contamination of soil is widespread but rarely harmful to humans, and the quantities proposed are so small as to pose little additional risk. However any zinc deposited remains in place and repeated doses applied along with the fertilizer will accumulate over time. An 11% increase in yield is significant but how long can the increase be sustained before zinc contamination renders the soil unsuitable for crop growth?

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Guru
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#2

Re: Nanoparticles of Zinc Oxide Boost Crop Growth

06/09/2016 8:35 PM

There are concerns however that ingestion of nanoparticles (due to their small nature) could potentially be a health concern that could outway the benefits.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotoxicology

Like Radium or Asbestos these seemed to provide incredible properties or advantages over alternative materials, but there was a catch.

At least now days much more effort and research is being conducted to monitor and confirm safety of new 'wonder' materials.

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