The Importance Of Micronutrients
Micronutrients (MNs) are important to world agriculture and human health. Over 3 billion people across the world suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and copper (Cu) have become yield- limiting factors and are partly responsible for low food nutrition. Although crops use low amounts of MNs (<0.972 kg/Ac), about half of the cultivated world’s soils are deficient in plant bioavailable MNs, due to their slow replenishment from the weathering of soil minerals, soil cultivation for thousands of years and insufficient crop fertilization. Relevant MN deficiencies occur more frequently in neutral to alkaline soils, under anaerobic conditions and in arid or semi-arid regions. The MN use efficiency (MUE) of most commercial fertilizers added to soils or foliage is 2.5% to 5% of applied, due to their rapid stabilization by soil components, low leaf penetration and low mobility in plants. In soil-plant systems, fertilizer-MNs interact with macronutrients resulting in synergistic, antagonistic or neutral response affecting yield and food quality.
Thus far, conventional and newer fertilizer technologies and products are unable to synchronize the MN release from fertilizer according to crop demand during the growing season, resulting in low MUE. New efforts to improve crop yield, food nutrition and fertilizer-MUE involve the use of micro- and Nano-encapsulation, Nano-materials (NMs), Nano-devices and nanoparticles (NPs) of Zn, Fe, Mn and Cu oxides. Fertilizer products appear to increase MUE as follows: soluble salts < chelates < microcapsules ≤ Nano-capsules = nanoparticles. Many of the effects of the new fertilizer materials on crop yield and quality, human health and environmental risks remain largely unknown. But with recent trials and applications of Nualgi Foliar there has been a distinct improvement in MN and soil stabilities. Nano-biotechnology will occupy a prominent place in transforming agricultural systems and food production worldwide in the coming years. Moving forward these writings will focus on the facts that the development of a MN intelligent Nano-fertilizer (INF) delivery platform will result in significant increases of MUE and food quality by enabling the synchronization of MN release from fertilizers according to crop demand. With the addition of Nualgi Foliar there will be a distinct advantage for growers utilizing it with the overall impact on their MUE and MN.
Agriculture systems have a crucial role in the provision of food, improved livelihoods and income for many, being the main occupation of about 80% of poor people in rural areas, including women (Pinstrup-Andersen, 2011). The world will need to meet the food needs of an estimated population of 9 billion by 2050 (FAO, 2011). The deficient food results in anemia and improved food production systems and access to quality food can help reduce under-nutrition. For example, an investment of U.S. $8 billion per year globally would reduce the number of underweight children by 10 million and of hungry people by 201 million by 2050 and will also help raise the income of many of the world’s poorest people (Hoddinott et al., 2013).
Because human nutrition is directly linked to that of plants, the production of nutritious foods requires a balanced content of essential macro-, meso- and micronutrients. Macronutrients are required in large amounts and include nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). The meso- or secondary nutrients include calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S). Micronutrients or trace elements are required in smaller amounts and include iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), boron (B), chloride (Cl), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), and Silica (Si). Soils are the main source of MNs for plants, and the soil bioavailability of MNs is influenced by many soil and other environmental factors. Once fertilizer-MNs are added to soils, the trace elements react rapidly to form chemical precipitates, or interact with clay colloids and the organo-mineral matrix of soils, rendering them unavailable for synchronized uptake by plants during crop growth. Thus, the crop fertilizer-MN use efficiency (MUE) is low, <5%. Over the past two decades, experts have realized that current conventional agronomic technologies would not be able to enhance farm productivity any further. The agricultural applications of bio-nanotechnology has the proven potential of breaking yield barriers through pests and disease surveillance and control, greater understanding of molecular level mechanisms of host-parasite interactions, the development of next-generation pesticides and their carriers and also by improving the efficiency of nutrient use by crops. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at the atomic or molecular level, usually at scales <100 nm. Nanotechnology promises to improve current agricultural practices through the enhancement of management and conservation of inputs in crops, animal production and fisheries (Thornton, 2010). Research work conducted in the last two decades has focused on metal nanoparticles (NPs), such as ZnO and CuO, metal chelates and controlled released fertilizer-micronutrients. Nualgi Foliar will bring the growers the next level nano based fertilizer package to address the overall issues that they face today.