Indian Institute of Soil Science Indian Institute of Soil Science

भाकृअनुप-भारतीय मृदा विज्ञान संस्थान


From the Director's Desk .....

Nano–fertilizer technology: An Innovative Strategy

The greatest challenge in Indian agriculture in the coming decades is to enhance production with ecological sustainability. The conventional blanket fertilizer recommendation is causing imbalanced and skewed use of nutrients resulting in low fertilizer use efficiency. In view of the emerging trends in current agriculture there is a need for optimum utilization of fertilizers. Despite intensive research on all issues for improving nutrient use efficiency in agricultural fields, average N, P, K use efficiency in farmers' fields has remained almost unchanged over the last 50 years. Development of new and innovative nutrient management technologies will be crucial in meeting the ecological needs and achieving the anticipated food demands of the growing population in the near future. In this context, use of nano-technology and nano-products in agricultural sector may prove to be a boon to improve agricultural production and productivity. The results of several investigations carried out at ICAR-IISS, Bhopal clearly demonstrated the ability of the plants to utilize nano-sized nutrient products like nano-rock phosphate for their nutrition. The protocol developed for the conversion of indigenous low/ medium grade rock phosphate into nano-rock phosphate particle using top down approach (high energy ball mill) opens up a new avenue for effective utilization of vast deposit of indigenous rock phosphate available in the country to meet the P requirement of the crops. This technology can also be extended for utilization of other nutrient containing mineral deposits in agriculture with reduced cost and without causing damage to the environment. “Nano-urea” was documented in a recent China-focused review to benefit several crops, where nano-urea increased grain yield and N uptake significantly, leading to diminution in N loss by up to 74%. Development and use of nano fertilizers fortified with secondary and micronutrients are the need of the hour. The protocol developed at ICAR-IISS, Bhopal to fortify the urea granules with a consortium of nano-particles is one of the smart ways to deliver phosphorus and micronutrients. Nano-scale ZnO can be used as a cheap source of Zn and can also effectively be supplied through seed coating. This protocol of seed coating with nano ZnO can be used by the seed producing agencies to produce customized seed for Zn deficient areas of the country. As chemical fertilizers are not allowed in the organic farming, the nano-particles of natural mineral ores may be recommended for organic farming. The potential use of nano-fertilizers in crop production represents a dramatic departure from the dominant systems of present-day agriculture, and this needs to be investigated thoroughly over a longer time-frame.

Dr. Ashok K. Patra
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