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NEXT GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES IN AGRICULTURE




  • NEXT GENERATION TECHNOLOGY

    It is well known that change is the meaning of life. Movement is the peculiar quality of life and stagnancy is the symbol of death. Therefore it’s the nature of living being to strive for their survival and to ensure their existence. As humans are the crown of creatures, so the history of man has encountered a great deal of transformation in order to ensure their presence and confront the challenges that could be a source for their extinction. The struggle for the better has led the Stone Age man to this modern era of technology. The present time is the period of information technology. Information technology has made it possible to resolve many issues within a blink of eye that were considered impossible in the past. But on the other hand new discoveries also fetch new questions and associated issues; still there are many biological and technological matters that are beyond human approach. Hence, scientists are thriving to explore new dimensions to answer these complex questions and remedies to insulate the cavities in science and technology.  Scientist in their quest to answer the questions of complex natural phenomena and to minimize the modern issues faced by mankind has found a ray of hope that could be a miraculous discovery of all times. The’ nanotechnology’ is a unique discipline of science that could be the source of technological revolution.

    Nanotechnology is a broad-based science involving the manipulation of atoms, electrons, protons and neutrons in a variety of ways to generate new understanding of how materials can be developed to solve many problems in medicine, engineering, agriculture, biology, chemistry, surface science, space exploration, ocean and marine science, geography and geology. In some cases the research will develop new machines or ways to deliver new products (Kawagoe and Meeche, 2005). In simple words we can say nanotechnology is the handling of matter at Nano scale usually from 1-100 nanometers (nm). Nanotechnology is a multi-disciplinary science and it has wide application in all the sections and segments of living as well as nonliving world. It could be a source of rejuvenation of the dying environment, enhancement of agriculture, effective delivery systems, treatment and diagnosis of many incurable diseases and self-replicating Nano machines. Some of the useful aspects of nanotechnology are mentioned as follow.

    NANOTECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE     

    Nanotechnology has a great prospect in the field of agriculture. Mechanisms are developed for the accurate, precise and consistent delivery of insect controlling agents either in form of pheromone fibers or Nano capsules. Pheromones are chemicals used by insects to deliver messages for mating. These pheromones are used to trap insects. Spraying of pheromones is expensive and there is a great deal of wastage and uneven distribution. Hence, Nano-fibers are made that release the chemical in a steady and uniform pattern that do not require high concentrations of the chemicals and are least affected by wind and rain. Secondly, Nano capsules are used for precise, accurate and targeted delivery of pesticides and nutrients. In general way of application of both nutrients and pesticides, the leeching and non-target application is the main issue. Therefore Nano capsules are made that are encapsulated with the required chemical to be transported and coated with specific site recognizing proteins that guide the Nano scale capsule to the targeted area and release the contents there. Furthermore, the Nano barcodes, similar to the UPC code are used to detect the soil moisture contents, nutrient levels and other chemicals in soil. These bar codes can also be used for tagging food materials and bio-molecular tracing. In addition, pesticide detection and extraction strategies are also developed by this remarkable technology. Domesticated water filter that uses nanoparticles to remove pesticide residues is about to enter the market. Scientists have also discovered some nanoparticles that adheres health hazardous and stable pesticides and successfully remove them from the soils, otherwise these could be a source of many genetic disorders.

    NANOTECHNOLOGY IN MEDICINE

    Nanotechnology can revolutionize the field of medicine by curing many diseases that are yet not incurable. One of the modern problems of health sciences is tumor detection and treatment.  There is still not a full fledge cure to this deadly disorder. To solve this problem scientists are devising Nano-shells that will detect the cancer in early stages and deliver the drug to targeted site. These shells are coated with a suitable coating material conjugated with a specific antibody to increase the specificity. These Nano-capsules are effective because they are protected from degradation in stomach, their hazardous effected are minimized, drugs are discharged at specific site, mask the taste of bitter drugs, protected from environmental hazards and many allergic reactions are can be avoided.     

    NANO TECHNOLOGY IN TEXTILE

    Nanotechnology has also spread its tentacles in the textile industry. Textile industry is taking keen interest in Nano fabrics because these bear unique properties such as super hydrophobicity, more reliable and strong, ultra-violet radiation protection, stain resistant, wrinkle protected, body warmers and better color contrast effects. Nano fabric is actually made from Nano fibers. Nano fabric is made in such a ways that the distance among particles are minimized and different Nano coatings are used that even do not allow the Ultra violet radiations to penetrate such fabrics. The distance among the Nano threads are maintained in a manner that even a drop of water cannot penetrate it. Furthermore, reducing the gaps between the micro threads make the fabric durable and long lasting. In addition to this the Nano fabrics also trap heat inside them and avoid its dispersal.

    APPLICATION OF NANOTECHNOLOGY IN ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:

    The era of industrialization in spite of its positive aspects is also the cause that is adversely affecting the environment. The voracity and absence of sense responsibility among the modern man has almost dragged the environment to the dead end. Industrial effluents, household wastes, pesticides and other by-products released by the combustion of vehicle engines and other mechanical devises are main factors that contribute to the degradation of our environment. Therefore it is necessary to cope with these problems effectively and timely. Nanotechnology can play a major role in order to alleviate the present condition of our environment.  Scientists are working on purifying the water from heavy and radioactive elements by using Nano filters. Nanoparticles such as dendrimers, zeolites, nanoscale magnetide and tune able biopolymers are used to isolate hazardous metals and chemical ions from water. Nano composites are used to remove the metals and organic contaminants are removed using Nanoscale photo catalysts, nano-scale zero valent iron and polymeric nanoparticles. Thiol-SAMMS manufactured by Steward Advance Materials, in Chattanooga, Tennessee has high affinity for soft heavy metals (Hg, Ac, Au etc.). These Nano filters have increased surface area and efficiently remove the targeted metals from water. In addition Nano engineered. Oragnosilica can effectively absorb small organic molecules from water effectively. Furthermore, iron nano particles are used for the remediation the ground water and to decontaminate various contaminants. With the advancement this technology we will soon become able to remove the chlorofloro carbons in atmosphere that are depleting the ozone layer, and we can degrade the greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are ruining our environment.

    NANOMACHINES:

    Nanomachines are extremely small devices made up of individual atoms that can theoretically manipulate the matter at the atomic level. The ultimate aim of the nannomanchine technology is to design the ‘assembler.’ The idea is to make an atomic machine having extremely small pincers that can rearrange the atoms in the matter. These machines can reposition the atoms in matter it means theoretically we can turn the garbage into food. If scientists will become able to design such machines then era of new and exciting possibilities will be observed. In medical science breakthrough treatments to different diseases will become available. Simply a purpose specific programmed nanomachine to recognize and disassemble cancerous cells will be injected into the human body thus providing quick, safe and effective treatment. Similarly, nanomachines to repair the broken bones could be made that can reassemble the damaged bones. By manipulating the human cells at atomic level most of the illnesses can be cured.

    Furthermore, organic wastes could be converted into edible items that will overcome the starvation and food scarcities.

    As these machines manipulate the matter to form new useful products, hence these machines can be programmed to self-replicate and could produce copies of them. If this will happen it would be cost effective to buy just one machine and produce many copies of it. The monopoly of manufacturing industries would be avoided and each and every individual of the society can easily have access to this facility.

    As every technology fetches new problems with it, there are also concerns about producing the self-replicating Nano machines. There is possibility that any mishap could change the programming of the machines and they could uncontrollably replicate until the whole world changes into the dust of Nano machines. There will be complete extinction of life.

     

    CONCLUSION:  

    Nonotechnology is emerging science and the hope of humanity for the future. This technology could be the source to eliminate many problems that are concerning the human race. This can bring breakthrough in medical science by curing many fatal and incurable diseases can alleviate the fading environment and could be the reason to eliminate food scarcity and starvation. But the concerns relating to self-replicating Nano machines are alarming. Therefore the manufacturing of such machines must be avoided and only purpose specific machines should be made.    

      

    Syed Ikram Ali Shah

    B.Sc.(Hons) Agricultural Sciences

    Center of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB), University of Agriculture Faisalabad

    Email: syedikram_k2@yahoo.com

    Authors:

    Syed Ikram Ali Shah*, Mubashir Abbas1, Manzoor ul Hassan2

    Author* Center of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad

    Author1 Center of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad

    Author2 Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad

      

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