Before COVID-19, the agricultural production challenge was clear: it must increase by 70−100% to meet the food demand by 2050. Now, this challenge for global and Australia is unavoidable. Many grain-producing countries have resumed their export to ensure national food security. Therefore, enhance national food security is as urgent as fighting the COVID-19.
We need plans to intensify agriculture sustainably, particularly under the climate change, drought stress, and heatwave, and water shortage. In the climate change scenario, the drought is becoming major stress affecting crop productivity. We need to find a solution to help plants deal with drought short-term (right now) and long-term (sustainable).
Not only Australia, but many other countries have concerns about food security. For example, over 90% of foods from Singapore are imported from over 170 countries. During the pandemic, Singapore announced to increase food self-production by 300% by 2030 through high technology such as urban vegetable and fish farms. Urban farming requires high technology which the traditional fertilizer and pesticides seem out of date because we can’t spray a massive amount of pesticides or apply tones of nitrogen fertilizer in the city.
We use silica nanoparticles to deliver agrochemicals directly to the plants and minimise the residues to the environment. Silica nanoparticles allow to carry various kinds of pesticides and fertilisers and precisely deliver to plants. Because the agrochemicals are loaded inside silica nanoparticles, this technology enables to concentrate agrochemicals inside nanostructure, protect pesticide loss or degradation by nature condition. Consequently, it will enhance efficiency over extended durations and protect the crop for a longer time.
When the silica nanoparticle comes in contact with plant roots or leaves, it releases the pesticide content. After safely delivering agrochemicals, the silica nanoparticles will be absorbed by plants. In nature, silica is one of the most abundant minerals widely distributed in sand and dust. As such it is environmentally sourced and degraded. Besides, silica nanoparticles can help plants deal with drought. According to a recent study, silica nanoparticles help barley plants boost chlorophyll (up to 17.1%) and carotenoid (up to 24.1%) content of leaves which help the plants cope with drought stress.
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