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Scientists eye nanotechnologies to boost crop yields | EurActiv

SPECIAL REPORT / Nanotechnologies that deliver fertilisers to plants offer promising ways of improving farm productivity while reducing the risk of water contamination. But the scientists behind a new Swiss-funded study caution that while the technology is still evolving, potential risks must be considered.

...Researchers at Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station (ART) in Zurich and the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture in Berne say that direct application of plant protection products and fertilisers containing nanosubstances may pose potential hazards to microorganisms that flourish beneath the Earth's surface.

The scientists contend there is only limited research into the effects of man-made nanomaterials on soil health, and point out that "the potential improvement of plant protection products and fertilisers through nanomaterials is offset by their significantly higher flux into soils if nanomaterials are used."

Fragile microorganisms like bacteria and fungi are natural suppliers of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients to crops, and are paramount for soil fertility and plant health.

"We cannot afford to jeopardise these essential ecosystem services" explained Thomas D. Bucheli of the Agroscope ART, and an author of the report funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. "These symbiontic communities are key for a sustainable agriculture and deserve our special attention."

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 23rd, 2012 at 03:33:49 PM EST
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