Nanostructured Biosensors Detect Pesticide, Help Preserve Environment

By Selina Meiners, NIFA

When does too much of a good thing become a bad thing? That’s the question Dr. Jonathan Claussen, assistant professor at Iowa State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his team of researchers aim to help farmers answer when it comes to pesticide use. Underuse can harm farmers’ crops, while overuse can result in runoff into the soil or waterways.

Claussen and his team created a flexible, low cost and disposable biosensor that can detect pesticides in soil. This biosensor is made of graphene, a strong and stable nanoparticle, and provides instantaneous feedback, as opposed to the time and money it would otherwise take to send a sample to a lab and await results.

NIFA supported the project with an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant as part of the Nanotechnology Program.

USDA Announces $5.2 Million For Nanotechnology Research

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced an investment of more than $5.2 million to support nanotechnology research at 11 universities. The universities will research ways nanotechnology can be used to improve food safety, enhance renewable fuels, increase crop yields, manage agricultural pests, and more. The awards were made through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences. Continue reading

UK part of international consortium investigating environmental impacts of nanotechnology-based agrochemicals

Two University of Kentucky scientists are part of a newly established international consortium investigating the environmental impacts of nanotechnology-based agrochemicals.

The three-year $1.2 million grant entitled Fate and Effects of Agriculturally Relevant Materials (NanoFARM) was funded by the European Union and the U.S. National Science Foundation through the European Area Research Networks (ERA-NET). Typically this is a program for scientists in E.U. member states, but this year the U.S. participated in the program by providing funding through various agencies, enabling participation of U.S. researchers. Continue reading

Nanoparticles may reduce insecticide use

In Delta Farm Press

The soybean looper is a destructive pest on soybeans capable of defoliating fields if left unchecked. It can be difficult to control because of its resistance to many insecticides. LSU AgCenter scientists are looking at a novel way to increase the efficacy of pesticides to better control insects such as the soybean looper using nanotechnology.

Cristina Sabliov, biological engineer, and entomologist Jeff Davis are testing the use of nanoparticles  — particles 1,000 times smaller in width than a human hair — in insecticides to see if the particles help the chemical better adhere to the leaf tissue and provide better defense against pests. They want to see if the use of nanoparticles loaded with pesticides means farmers can use less chemicals on their crops while making the chemicals more effective.

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