New Nanotechnology Products Seek to Maximize Agricultural Productivity

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In past columns, I've shared information about cold-processed sweeteners and their role in boosting plant health and crop yields. New nanotechnology solutions offer an alternative delivery mechanism for inputs, such as sweeteners, to make these inputs even more effective. Nanotechnology may also improve efficacy of other crop inputs, such as herbicides. We at BigYield.us see potential in using nanotechnology to help producers make even better use of both sweeteners and herbicides.

Sweeteners Boost Plant Health, Yield Potential
As we've indicated previously, cold-processed sweeteners boost crop yield potential in several ways. For example, the sweeteners act as a carbon source. The added carbon can make plants more productive; improve soil structure; enhance drainage; and provide a food source for beneficial bacteria, fungi and other creatures. By applying sweeteners, producers can encourage plant vegetative growth, support root development and elevate plant Brix levels. Some evidence indicates that applying sweeteners will also contribute to managing pests and diseases.

Nanotechnology Looks to Make Cold-Processed Sweeteners Even More Effective
My team and I are now working with nanotechnology to further enhance cold-processed sweetener effectiveness. Already, nanotechnology may influence multiple industries such as energy, water treatment, health and medicine. In agriculture, nanotechnology may involve using tiny particles developed at an atomic or molecular level to deliver crop production inputs, such as yield-enhancers and crop protection products, and improve agricultural productivity.

Otherwise known as nanoparticles , these small particles in our case measure 50 nanometers to 100 nanometers. To give you a better idea about nanoparticle size, one nanometer represents one billionth of a meter. Nanoparticles are selected and designed for a specific product, such as a cold-processed sweetener. The nanoparticles themselves are inert. In other words, they don't influence a product's formulation or modify its mode of action.

Instead, nanoparticles reformat a crop input to enhance its delivery and effectiveness. That piqued our interest at BigYield.us, so we decided to take a closer look at combining our liquid BigSoy100 LB cold-processed sweetener with nanoparticles, and in 2016, we're introducing a new product that incorporates the two.

Making the product involves passing specially selected nanoparticles through the sweetener's sugar molecules. Through this process, sugar atoms attach themselves to the nanoparticles. Leaf stomata, or pores, can more easily absorb sugar atoms through cell walls when the sugars are delivered on the small scale provided by nanoparticles. This improved permeation and absorption allows crops to realize the benefits described earlier to an even greater extent.

During 2016, the BigYield.us team and I will continue testing the nanotechnology-enhanced BigSoy100 LB cold-processed sweetener at our research plots in Garden City, Mo. We'll also have limited quantities available for purchase.

Nanotechnology Application Also Improves Herbicide Effectiveness
As we introduce the combined BigSoy100 LB and nanoparticles, we at BigYield.us are also releasing another product that uses nanotechnology. That product combines nanoparticles and a herbicide. Product development and delivery are similar to that involved in the product that combines nanoparticles with BigSoy100 LB. In the herbicide product's case, nanoparticles pass through the herbicide and attach to herbicide atoms. Weeds can more easily absorb the small nanoparticles combined with herbicide atoms, and as a result, the herbicide is more likely to manage the weeds.

Good weed control at early onset inhibits resistance from developing. Resistance arises as weeds have repeated contact with a herbicide but that herbicide fails to kill weeds completely. When exposed to a herbicide, weeds can form antibodies toward the herbicide and essentially become immune to it. Because the nanoparticles can improve herbicide penetration, applying the combined nanotechnology and herbicide can help to eliminate weeds early before they develop resistance.

We at BigYield.us will also continue testing the combined nanotechnology and herbicide product during 2016, and we'll have limited quantities available for our customers to try.

To learn about using these and other nanotechnology products to get big yields on your farm, call me at 816-773-6018.

John Ortiz is the BigYield.us general manager. He has more than a decade of farming and research experience. Contact him at johno@agteampro.com or by phone at 816-773-6018.