The use of nanomaterials in agriculture could, on the one hand, reduce cost and effort, increase efficiency and lead to more environmentally sound applications. On the other hand, it might also have a negative effect on microorganisms in the soil. This is concluded by the authors of a review article written within the scope of the National Research Programme "Opportunities and Risks of Nanomaterials" (NRP 64).
Although no plant protection products or fertilisers containing nanomaterials are available on the market as yet, nanomaterials are becoming an increasingly important issue in agriculture, particularly as additives or agents in fertilisers or plant protection products: The number of scientific publications and patents on nanomaterials in this area has increased exponentially since the turn of the millennium, according to a review article recently published by researchers from the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station and the Federal Office for Agriculture (*). With around 70 articles published until now, it is still possible for researchers to gain an overview of the topic. The USA and Germany are leading the field with regard to patents, but most of the scientific articles have been written in Asian countries.Often outside the traditional nano range
Companies in Switzerland are already required to declare any nanomaterials contained in new plant protection products that they wish to register. However, international principles of nano-specific risk assessment are still at the development stage. As part of the National Research Programme "Opportunities and Risks of Nanomaterials" (NRP 64), the project NANOMICROPS (Effects of NANOparticles on beneficial soil MIcrobes and CROPS) is contributing to these efforts by developing ecotoxicological test systems for soil microorganisms and crops as well as making available analytical methods for quantifying nanomaterials in agriculturally significant environmental compartments such as soil and water.(*) Alexander Gogos, Katja Knauer, and Thomas D. Bucheli (2012). Nanomaterials in Plant Protection and Fertilization: Current State, Foreseen Applications, and Research Priorities. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 60: 9781–9792
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