The globally recognized need to advance more sustainable agriculture and food systems has motivated the emergence of transdisciplinary solutions, which include methodologies that utilize the properties of materials at the nanoscale to address extensive and inefficient resource use. Despite the promising prospects of these nanoscale materials, the potential for large-scale applications directly to the environment and to crops necessitates precautionary measures to avoid unintended consequences. Further, the effects of using engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in agricultural practices cascade throughout their life cycle and include effects from upstream-embodied resources and emissions from ENM production as well as their potential downstream environmental implications. Building on decades-long research in ENM synthesis, biological and environmental interactions, fate, transport and transformation, there is the opportunity to inform the sustainable design of nano-enabled agrochemicals. Here we perform a screening-level analysis that considers the system-wide benefits and costs for opportunities in which ENMs can advance the sustainability of crop-based agriculture. These include their on-farm use as (1) soil amendments to offset nitrogen fertilizer inputs, (2) seed coatings to increase germination rates and (3) foliar sprays to enhance yields. In each analysis, the nano-enabled alternatives are compared against the current practice on the basis of performance and embodied energy. In addition to identifying the ENM compositions and application approaches with the greatest potential to sustainably advance crop production, we present a holistic, prospective, systems-based approach that promotes emerging alternatives that have net performance and environmental benefits.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017).
Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations 2015).
NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 2017).
James J. Elser & Matthew S. Platz. Closing the Human Phosphorus Cycle (National Science Foundation, 2015).
World Fertilizer Trends and Outlook to 2020: Summary Report (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017).
Atwood, D. & Paisley-Jones, C. Pesticides Industry Sales and Usage: 2008–2012 Market Estimates (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2017).
Springmann, M. et al. Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature 562, 519–525 (2018).
Lassaletta, L., Billen, G., Grizzetti, B., Anglade, J. & Garnier, J. 50 year trends in nitrogen use efficiency of world cropping systems: the relationship between yield and nitrogen input to cropland. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 105011 (2014).
Roberts, T. L. & Johnston, A. E. Phosphorus use efficiency and management in agriculture. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 105, 275–281 (2015).
Pimentel, D. & Levitan, L. Pesticides: amounts applied and amounts reaching pests. Bioscience 36, 86–91 (1986).
Ghormade, V., Deshpande, M. V. & Paknikar, K. M. Perspectives for nano-biotechnology enabled protection and nutrition of plants. Biotechnol. Adv. 29, 792–803 (2011).
Rodrigues, S. M. et al. Nanotechnology for sustainable food production: promising opportunities and scientific challenges. Environ. Sci. Nano 4, 767–781 (2017).
De Oliveira, J. L., Campos, E. V. R., Bakshi, M., Abhilash, P. C. & Fraceto, L. F. Application of nanotechnology for the encapsulation of botanical insecticides for sustainable agriculture: prospects and promises. Biotechnol. Adv. 32, 1550–1561 (2014).
Schnitkey, G. Historic fertilizer, seed, and chemical costs with 2019 projections. Farmdoc Daily 8, 102 (2018).
Farm Production Expenditures: 2017 Summary (United Sates Department of Agriculture, 2018).
Kanter, D. R. & Searchinger, T. D. A technology-forcing approach to reduce nitrogen pollution. Nat. Sustainability 1, 544–552 (2018).
Rabalais, N. N., Turner, R. E., Diaz, R. J. & Justić, D. Global change and eutrophication of coastal waters. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 66, 1528–1537 (2009).
Klarich, K. L. et al. Occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in finished drinking water and fate during drinking water treatment. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 4, 168–173 (2017).
Sutton, M. A. et al. The European Nitrogen Assessment: Sources, Effects and Policy Perspectives (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011).
Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030 (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 2018).
Tracking Industrial Energy Efficiency and CO 2 Emissions (IEA, 2007)
Pattabathula, V. & Richardson, J. Introduction to Ammonia Production (AIChE, 2016).
Fertilizer Use and Price (United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2019).
Kermeli, K., Worrell, E., Graus, W. & Corsten, M. Energy Efficiency and Cost Saving Opportunities for Ammonia and Nitrogenous Fertilizer Production (Energy Star, 2017).
Zhang, X. et al. Managing nitrogen for sustainable development. Nature 528, 51–59 (2015).
Khot, L. R., Sankaran, S., Maja, J. M., Ehsani, R. & Schuster, E. W. Applications of nanomaterials in agricultural production and crop protection: a review. Crop Prot. 35, 64–70 (2012).
Rai, M., Ribeiro, C., Mattoso, L. & Duran, N. Nanotechnologies in Food and Agriculture (Springer, 2015).
Parisi, C., Vigani, M. & Rodríguez-Cerezo, E. Agricultural nanotechnologies: what are the current possibilities? Nano Today 10, 124–127 (2015).
Lichtfouse, E. Nanoscience in Food and Agriculture 3 (Sustainable Agriculture Reviews Vol. 23, Springer, 2016).
Jain, A., Ranjan, S., Dasgupta, N. & Ramalingam, C. Nanomaterials in food and agriculture: an overview on their safety concerns and regulatory issues. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 58, 297–317 (2018).
He, X., Deng, H. & Hwang, H. The current application of nanotechnology in food and agriculture. J. Food Drug Anal. 17, 1–21 (2019).
Giraldo, J. P., Wu, H., Newkirk, G. M. & Kruss, S. Nanobiotechnology approaches for engineering smart plant sensors. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 541–553 (2019).
Kah, M., Tufenkji, N. & White, J. C. Nano-enabled strategies to enhance crop nutrition and protection. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 532–540 (2019).
Lowry, G. V., Avellan, A. & Gilbertson, L. M. Opportunities and challenges for nanotechnology in the agri-tech revolution. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 517–522 (2019).
Yin, J., Wang, Y. & Gilbertson, L. M. Opportunities to advance sustainable design of nano-enabled agriculture identified through a literature review. Environ. Sci. Nano 5, 11–26 (2018).
Hofmann, T. et al. Advancing nanotechnology-enabled plant agriculture responsibly. Nat. Food (in the press).
Monreal, C. M., DeRosa, M., Mallubhotla, S. C., Bindraban, P. S. & Dimkpa, C. Nanotechnologies for increasing the crop use efficiency of fertilizer-micronutrients. Biol. Fertil. Soils 52, 423–437 (2016).
Chhipa, H. Nanofertilizers and nanopesticides for agriculture. Environ. Chem. Lett. 15, 15–22 (2017).
Dubey, A. & Mailapalli, D. R. in Sustainable Agriculture Reviews (ed. Lichtfouse, E.) 307–330 (Sustainable Agriculture Reviews Vol. 19, Springer, 2016).
Peters, R. J. et al. Nanomaterials for products and application in agriculture, feed and food. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 54, 155–164 (2016).
Gogos, A., Knauer, K. & Bucheli, T. D. Nanomaterials in plant protection and fertilization: current state, foreseen applications, and research priorities. J. Agric. Food Chem. 60, 9781–9792 (2012).
Fraceto, L. F. et al. Nanotechnology in agriculture: which innovation potential does it have? Front. Environ. Sci. 4, 20 (2016).
Arruda, S. C. C., Silva, A. L. D., Galazzi, R. M., Azevedo, R. A. & Arruda, M. A. Z. Nanoparticles applied to plant science: a review. Talanta 131, 693–705 (2015).
Corn Prices—59 Year Historical Chart (Macrotrends, accessed 6 October 2019); https://www.macrotrends.net/2532/corn-prices-historical-chart-data
Wang, T., Ayesh, A., Hennessy, D. & Feng, H. Cropland Reflux: Trends in and Locations of Land Use Change in the Dakotas, 2007–2012 and 2012–2017 (South Dakota Board of Regents, 2018).
Miller, S. A., Landis, A. E. & Theis, T. L. Feature: environmental trade-offs of biobased production. Environ. Sci. Technol. 41, 5176–5182 (2007).
Galloway, J., Theis, T. & Doering, O. Managing nitrogen pollution in the United States: a success, a challenge, and an action plan. EM Mag. 65, 6–11 (2015).
Hoekstra, A. C in The Water We Eat: Combining Virtual Water and Water Footprints (eds Antonelli, M. & Greco, F.) 35–48 (Springer, 2015).
Urso, J. H. & Gilbertson, L. M. Atom conversion efficiency: a new sustainability metric applied to nitrogen and phosphorus use in agriculture. ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 6, 4453–4463 (2018).
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Scientific Assessment of Hypoxia in U.S. Coastal Waters (Interagency Working Group on Harmful Algal Blooms, Hypoxia, and Human Health of the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, 2010).
Liu, R. & Lal, R. Potentials of engineered nanoparticles as fertilizers for increasing agronomic productions. Sci. Total Environ. 514, 131–139 (2015).
Shalaby, T. A. et al. Nanoparticles, soils, plants and sustainable agriculture. in Nanoscience in Food and Agriculture 1 (ed. Lichtfouse, E). 283–312 (Sustainable Agriculture Reviews Vol. 20, Springer, 2016).
Tolaymat, T., Genaidy, A., Abdelraheem, W., Dionysiou, D. & Andersen, C. The effects of metallic engineered nanoparticles upon plant systems: an analytic examination of scientific evidence. Sci. Total Environ. 579, 93–106 (2017).
Zuverza-Mena, N. et al. Exposure of engineered nanomaterials to plants: insights into the physiological and biochemical responses—a review. Plant Physiol. Biochem. 110, 236–264 (2017).
Rizwan, M. et al. Effect of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles on growth and physiology of globally important food crops: a critical review. J. Hazard. Mater. 322, 2–16 (2017).
Mukherjee, A. et al. Carbon nanomaterials in agriculture: a critical review. Front. Plant Sci. 7, 172 (2016).
Suppan, S. Applying Nanotechnology to Fertilizer: Rationales, research, risks and regulatory challenges (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2017).
Smith, A. M. & Gilbertson, L. M. Rational ligand design to improve agrochemical delivery efficiency and advance agriculture sustainability. ACS Sustain. Chem. Eng. 6, 13599–13610 (2018).
Eckelman, M. J., Mauter, M. S., Isaacs, J. A. & Elimelech, M. New perspectives on nanomaterial aquatic ecotoxicity: production impacts exceed direct exposure impacts for carbon nanotubes. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 2902–2910 (2012).
Pourzahedi, L. & Eckelman, M. J. Environmental life cycle assessment of nanosilver-enabled bandages. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 361–368 (2014).
Dahlben, L. J., Eckelman, M. J., Hakimian, A. & Isaacs, J. Environmental life cycle assessment of a carbon nanotube-enabled semiconductor device. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47, 8471–8478 (2013).
Huijbregts, M. A. et al. Cumulative energy demand as predictor for the environmental burden of commodity production. Environ. Sci. Technol. 44, 2189–2196 (2010).
Pourzahedi, L., Zhai, P., Isaacs, J. A. & Eckelman, M. J. Life cycle energy benefits of carbon nanotubes for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding applications. J. Cleaner Prod. 142, 1971–1978 (2017).
Zhai, P., Isaacs, J. A. & Eckelman, M. J. Net energy benefits of carbon nanotube applications. Appl. Energy 173, 624–634 (2016).
Falinski, M. M. et al. A framework for sustainable nanomaterial selection and design based on performance, hazard, and economic considerations. Nat. Nanotechnol. 13, 621–623 (2018).
Chopra, S. S. & Theis, T. L. Comparative cradle-to-gate energy assessment of indium phosphide and cadmium selenide quantum dot displays. Environ. Sci. Nano 4, 244–254 (2017).
Gao, X. et al. CuO nanoparticle dissolution and toxicity to wheat (Triticum aestivum) in rhizosphere soil. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 2888–2897 (2018).
Kashyap, P. L., Xiang, X. & Heiden, P. Chitosan nanoparticle based delivery systems for sustainable agriculture. Int. J. Biol. Macromol. 77, 36–51 (2015).
Gao, X., Spielman-Sun, E., Rodrigues, S. M., Casman, E. A. & Lowry, G. V. Time and nanoparticle concentration affect the extractability of Cu from CuO NP-amended soil. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 2226–2234 (2017).
Bastani, S. et al. Nano iron (Fe) complex is an effective source of Fe for tobacco plants grown under low Fe supply. J. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. 18, 524–541 (2018).
Montalvo, D., McLaughlin, M. J. & Degryse, F. Efficacy of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles as phosphorus fertilizer in andisols and oxisols. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 79, 551–558 (2015).
Adrees, M. et al. Simultaneous mitigation of cadmium and drought stress in wheat by soil application of iron nanoparticles. Chemosphere 238, 124681 (2020).
Dimkpa, C. O. et al. Addition–omission of zinc, copper, and boron nano and bulk oxide particles demonstrate element and size-specific response of soybean to micronutrients exposure. Sci. Total Environ. 665, 606–616 (2019).
Wang, Y. et al. Effect of metal oxide nanoparticles on amino acids in wheat grains (Triticum aestivum) in a life cycle study. J. Environ. Manag. 241, 319–327 (2019).
Gavankar, S., Suh, S. & Keller, A. A. The role of scale and technology maturity in life cycle assessment of emerging technologies: a case study on carbon nanotubes. J. Ind. Ecol. 19, 51–60 (2015).
Kushnir, D. & Sandén, B. A. Energy requirements of carbon nanoparticle production. J. Ind. Ecol. 12, 360–375 (2008).
Shi, W., Xue, K., Meshot, E. R. & Plata, D. L. The carbon nanotube formation parameter space: data mining and mechanistic understanding for efficient resource use. Green Chem. 19, 3787–3800 (2017).
Ashraf, M. & Foolad, M. R. Pre-sowing seed treatment—a shotgun approach to improve germination, plant growth, and crop yield under saline and non-saline conditions. Adv. Agron. 88, 223–271 (2005).
Rakshit, A. & Singh, H. B. Advances in Seed Priming (Springer, 2018).
Carlos, A. Parera & Daniel J. Cantliffe. Presowing seed priming. Horticultural Rev. 51, 109 (2010).
Liu, R., Zhang, H. & Lal, R. Effects of stabilized nanoparticles of copper, zinc, manganese, and iron oxides in low concentrations on lettuce (Lactuca sativa) seed germination: nanotoxicants or nanonutrients? Water Air Soil Pollut. 227, 42 (2016).
Mondal, A., Basu, R., Das, S. & Nandy, P. Beneficial role of carbon nanotubes on mustard plant growth: an agricultural prospect. J. Nanopart. Res. 13, 4519–4528 (2011).
Raliya, R., Saharan, V., Dimkpa, C. & Biswas, P. Nanofertilizer for precision and sustainable agriculture: current state and future perspectives. J. Agric. Food Chem. 66, 6487–6503 (2017).
Li, P., Du, Y., Huang, L., Mitter, N. & Xu, Z. P. Nanotechnology promotes the R&D of new-generation micronutrient foliar fertilizers. RSC Adv. 6, 69465–69478 (2016).
Tripathi, D. K. et al. An overview on manufactured nanoparticles in plants: uptake, translocation, accumulation and phytotoxicity. Plant Physiol. Biochem. 110, 2–12 (2017).
Eichert, T., Kurtz, A., Steiner, U. & Goldbach, H. E. Size exclusion limits and lateral heterogeneity of the stomatal foliar uptake pathway for aqueous solutes and water-suspended nanoparticles. Physiol. Plant. 134, 151–160 (2008).
Wang, W.-N., Tarafdar, J. C. & Biswas, P. Nanoparticle synthesis and delivery by an aerosol route for watermelon plant foliar uptake. J. Nanopart. Res. 15, 1417 (2013).
The Global Market for Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials (Future Markets, 2016).
Ettrup, K. et al. Development of comparative toxicity potentials of TiO2 nanoparticles for use in life cycle assessment. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 4027–4037 (2017).
Pini, M., Salieri, B., Ferrari, A. M., Nowack, B. & Hischier, R. Human health characterization factors of nano-TiO2 for indoor and outdoor environments. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 21, 1452–1462 (2016).
Salieri, B., Righi, S., Pasteris, A. & Olsen, S. I. Freshwater ecotoxicity characterisation factor for metal oxide nanoparticles: a case study on titanium dioxide nanoparticle. Sci. Total Environ. 505, 494–502 (2015).
Deng, Y. et al. Deriving characterization factors on freshwater ecotoxicity of graphene oxide nanomaterial for life cycle impact assessment. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 22, 222–236 (2017).
Pu, Y., Tang, F., Adam, P.-M., Laratte, B. & Ionescu, R. E. Fate and characterization factors of nanoparticles in seventeen subcontinental freshwaters: a case study on copper nanoparticles. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 9370–9379 (2016).
Walser, T., Demou, E., Lang, D. J. & Hellweg, S. Prospective environmental life cycle assessment of nanosilver T-shirts. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45, 4570–4578 (2011).
Pourzahedi, L. & J. Eckelman, M. Comparative life cycle assessment of silver nanoparticle synthesis routes. Environ. Sci. Nano 2, 361–369 (2015).
Pati, P., McGinnis, S. & J. Vikesland, P. Waste not want not: life cycle implications of gold recovery and recycling from nanowaste. Environ. Sci. Nano 3, 1133–1143 (2016).
Pourzahedi, L., Vance, M. & Eckelman, M. J. Life cycle assessment and release studies for 15 nanosilver-enabled consumer products: investigating hotspots and patterns of contribution. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 7148–7158 (2017).
Hicks, A. L., Gilbertson, L. M., Yamani, J. S., Theis, T. L. & Zimmerman, J. B. Life cycle payback estimates of nanosilver enabled textiles under different silver loading, release, and laundering scenarios informed by literature review. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 7529–7542 (2015).
Arvidsson, R. Risk assessments show engineered nanomaterials to be of low environmental concern. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 2436–2437 (2018).
Wu, H., Shabala, L., Shabala, S. & Giraldo, J. P. Hydroxyl radical scavenging by cerium oxide nanoparticles improves Arabidopsis salinity tolerance by enhancing leaf mesophyll potassium retention. Environ. Sci. Nano 5, 1567–1583 (2018).
Judy, J. D. et al. Nanomaterials in biosolids inhibit nodulation, shift microbial community composition, and result in increased metal uptake relative to bulk/dissolved metals. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 8751–8758 (2015).
Colman, B. P. et al. Low concentrations of silver nanoparticles in biosolids cause adverse ecosystem responses under realistic field scenario. PLoS ONE 8, e57189 (2013).
Simonin, M. et al. Negative effects of copper oxide nanoparticles on carbon and nitrogen cycle microbial activities in contrasting agricultural soils and in presence of plants. Front. Microbiol. 9, 3102 (2018).
Ge, Y., Schimel, J. P. & Holden, P. A. Evidence for negative effects of TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles on soil bacterial communities. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45, 1659–1664 (2011).
Berg, J., Tom‐Petersen, A. & Nybroe, O. Copper amendment of agricultural soil selects for bacterial antibiotic resistance in the field. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 40, 146–151 (2005).
Guo, J. et al. Copper oxide nanoparticles induce lysogenic bacteriophage and metal-resistance genes in pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 9, 22298–22307 (2017).
Su, Y. et al. Delivery, uptake, fate, and transport of engineered nanoparticles in plants: a critical review and data analysis. Environ. Sci. Nano 6, 2311–2331 (2019).
Laughton, S. et al. Persistence of copper-based nanoparticle-containing foliar sprays in Lactuca sativa (lettuce) characterized by spICP-MS. J. Nanopart. Res. 21, 174 (2019).
Bouwmeester, H. et al. Characterization of translocation of silver nanoparticles and effects on whole-genome gene expression using an in vitro intestinal epithelium coculture model. ACS Nano 5, 4091–4103 (2011).
Williams, K. et al. Effects of subchronic exposure of silver nanoparticles on intestinal microbiota and gut-associated immune responses in the ileum of Sprague-Dawley rats. Nanotoxicology 9, 279–289 (2015).
DeLoid, G. M. et al. An integrated methodology for assessing the impact of food matrix and gastrointestinal effects on the biokinetics and cellular toxicity of ingested engineered nanomaterials. Part. Fibre Toxicol. 14, 40 (2017).
Pourzahedi, L. et al. Life cycle considerations of nano-enabled agrochemicals: are today’s tools up to the task? Environ. Sci. Nano 5, 1057–1069 (2018).
Wigger, H., Wohlleben, W. & Nowack, B. Redefining environmental nanomaterial flows: Consequences of the regulatory nanomaterial definition on the results of environmental exposure models. Environ. Sci. Nano 5, 1372–1385 (2018).
Kong, W. et al. Path towards graphene commercialization from lab to market. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 927–938 (2019).
Zhang, Y. & Liu, H. How did climate drying reduce ecosystem carbon storage in the forest–steppe ecotone? A case study in Inner Mongolia, China. J. Plant Res. 123, 543–549 (2010).
Sun, Z., Mou, X. & Liu, J. S. Effects of flooding regimes on the decomposition and nutrient dynamics of Calamagrostis angustifolia litter in the Sanjiang Plain of China. Environ. Earth Sci. 66, 2235–2246 (2012).
Soil Bulk Density/Moisture/Aeration (Natural Resources Conservation Services, 2019).
Arshad, M. A., Lowery, B. & Grossman, B. in Methods for Assessing Soil Quality (eds Doran, J. W. & Jones, A. J.) 123–141 (Soil Science Society of America Special Publication Vol. 49, 1996).
Amenumey, S. E. & Capel, P. D. Fertilizer consumption and energy input for 16 crops in the United States. Nat. Resour. Res. 23, 299–309 (2014).
Quick Stats (USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, accessed 30 September 2019); https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/
Grubb, G. F. & Bakshi, B. R. Life cycle of titanium dioxide nanoparticle production: impact of emissions and use of resources. J. Ind. Ecol. 15, 81–95 (2011).
Osterwalder, N., Capello, C., Hungerbühler, K. & Stark, W. J. Energy consumption during nanoparticle production: how economic is dry synthesis? J. Nanopart. Res. 8, 1 (2006).
Healy, M. L., Dahlben, L. J. & Isaacs, J. A. Environmental assessment of single-walled carbon nanotube processes. J. Ind. Ecol. 12, 376–393 (2008).
Anctil, A., Babbitt, C. W., Raffaelle, R. P. & Landi, B. J. Material and energy intensity of fullerene production. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45, 2353–2359 (2011).
Arvidsson, R., Kushnir, D., Sandén, B. A. & Molander, S. Prospective life cycle assessment of graphene production by ultrasonication and chemical reduction. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48, 4529–4536 (2014).
Pati, P., McGinnis, S. & Vikesland, P. J. Life cycle assessment of ‘green’ nanoparticle synthesis methods. Environ. Eng. Sci. 31, 410–420 (2014).
Leng, W., Pati, P. & Vikesland, P. J. Room temperature seed mediated growth of gold nanoparticles: mechanistic investigations and life cycle assessment. Environ. Sci. Nano 2, 440–453 (2015).
Slotte, M., Metha, G. & Zevenhoven, R. Life cycle indicator comparison of copper, silver, zinc and aluminum nanoparticle production through electric arc evaporation or chemical reduction. Int. J. Energy Environ. Eng. 6, 233–243 (2015).
Gernhart, Z. C., Marin, C. M., Burke, J. J., Sonnenfeld, K. O. & Cheung, C. L. Additive-free synthesis of cerium oxide nanorods with reaction temperature-tunable aspect ratios. J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 98, 39–43 (2015).
Masui, T. et al. Synthesis of cerium oxide nanoparticles by hydrothermal crystallization with citric acid. J. Mater. Sci. Lett. 21, 489–491 (2002).
Wang, Y. et al. Divergence in response of lettuce (var. ramosa Hort) to copper oxide nanoparticles/microparticles as potential agricultural fertilizer. Environ. Pollut. Bioavailab. 31, 80–84 (2019).
Medina-Velo, I. A. et al. Comparison of the effects of commercial coated and uncoated ZnO nanomaterials and Zn compounds in kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) plants. J. Hazard. Mater. 332, 214–222 (2017).
Rawat, S. et al. Differential physiological and biochemical impacts of nano vs micron Cu at two phenological growth stages in bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) plant. NanoImpact 14, 100161 (2019).
Reddy Pullagurala, V. L. et al. Finding the conditions for the beneficial use of ZnO nanoparticles towards plants—a review. Environ. Pollut. 241, 1175–1181 (2018).
Xu, J., Luo, X., Wang, Y. & Feng, Y. Evaluation of zinc oxide nanoparticles on lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) growth and soil bacterial community. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. Int. 25, 6026–6035 (2018).
Bare, J. TRACI 2.0: the tool for the reduction and assessment of chemical and other environmental impacts 2.0. Clean Technol. Environ. Policy 13, 687–696 (2011).
Anjum, N. A. et al. Single-bilayer graphene oxide sheet impacts and underlying potential mechanism assessment in germinating faba bean (Vicia faba L.). Sci. Total Environ. 472, 834–841 (2014).
Pandey, K. et al. Effects of carbon-based nanomaterials on seed germination, biomass accumulation and salt stress response of bioenergy crops. PLoS ONE 13, e0202274 (2018).
Feizi, H., Moghaddam, P. R., Shahtahmassebi, N. & Fotovat, A. Impact of bulk and nanosized titanium dioxide (TiO2) on wheat seed germination and seedling growth. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 146, 101–106 (2012).
Wang, Q., Ma, X., Zhang, W., Pei, H. & Chen, Y. The impact of cerium oxide nanoparticles on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) and its implications for food safety. Metallomics 4, 1105–1112 (2012).
Raskar, S. V. & Laware, S. L. Effect of zinc oxide nanoparticles on cytology and seed germination in onion. Int J. Curr. Microbiol Appl. Sci. 3, 467–473 (2014).
Raja, K. et al. Biogenic ZnO and Cu nanoparticles to improve seed germination quality in blackgram (Vigna mungo). Mater. Lett. 235, 164–167 (2019).
Prasad, T. et al. Effect of nanoscale zinc oxide particles on the germination, growth and yield of peanut. J. Plant Nutr. 35, 905–927 (2012).
Sadeghi, H. & Robati, Z. Response of Cichorium intybus L. to eight seed priming methods under osmotic stress conditions. Biocat. Agric. Biotechnol. 4, 443–448 (2015).
Afzal, I., Rauf, S., Basra, S. M. A. & Murtaza, G. Halopriming improves vigor, metabolism of reserves and ionic contents in wheat seedlings under salt stress. Plant Soil Environ. 54, 382–388 (2008).
Zaicou-Kunesch, C. Wheat Seed Weight Differs Between Varieties (Agriculture and Food Division, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Developments, Government of Western Australia, 2017).
Hong, J. et al. Foliar applied nanoscale and microscale CeO2 and CuO alter cucumber (Cucumis sativus) fruit quality. Sci. Total Environ. 563, 904–911 (2016).
Elmer, W. H. & White, J. C. The use of metallic oxide nanoparticles to enhance growth of tomatoes and eggplants in disease infested soil or soilless medium. Environ. Sci. Nano 3, 1072–1079 (2016).
Raliya, R., Tarafdar, J. C. & Biswas, P. Enhancing the mobilization of native phosphorus in the mung bean rhizosphere using ZnO nanoparticles synthesized by soil fungi. J. Agric. Food Chem. 64, 3111–3118 (2016).
Naseeruddin, R. et al. Unprecedented synergistic effects of nanoscale nutrients on growth, productivity of sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench), and nutrient biofortification. J. Agric. Food Chem. 66, 1075–1084 (2018).
Subbaiah, L. V. et al. Novel effects of nanoparticulate delivery of zinc on growth, productivity, and zinc biofortification in maize (Zea mays L.). J. Agric. Food Chem. 64, 3778–3788 (2016).
Dimkpa, C. O., White, J. C., Elmer, W. H. & Gardea-Torresdey, J. Nanoparticle and ionic Zn promote nutrient loading of sorghum grain under low NPK fertilization. J. Agric. Food Chem. 65, 8552–8559 (2017).
Larue, C. et al. Fate of pristine TiO2 nanoparticles and aged paint-containing TiO2 nanoparticles in lettuce crop after foliar exposure. J. Hazard. Mater. 273, 17–26 (2014).
Jaberzadeh, A., Moaveni, P., Moghadam, H. R. T. & Zahedi, H. Influence of bulk and nanoparticles titanium foliar application on some agronomic traits, seed gluten and starch contents of wheat subjected to water deficit stress. Not. Bot. Horti. Agrobot. 41, 201–207 (2013).
Arora, S. et al. Gold-nanoparticle induced enhancement in growth and seed yield of Brassica juncea. Plant Growth Regul. 66, 303–310 (2012).
Funding support for L.M.G., L.P., J.B.Z., T.L.T., P.W. and G.V.L. was provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency through the STAR program (RD83558001) and the National Science Foundation (NNCI-ECCS-1542160). Funding for G.V.L., X.G. and S.L. was provided by the US National Science Foundation Cooperative Agreement EF-1266252, Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT) and CBET-1530563, Nano for Agriculturally Relevant Materials (NanoFARM). P.W. acknowledges partial support from the Nanosystems Engineering Research Center on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (EEC-1449500). L.M.G. recognizes support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. L. Passantino provided technical editing.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Table 1. Embodied energy of N-fertilizers and ENMs.
Table 2. Life cycle inventory to calculate CED of production of CeO2 nanoparticles through hydrothermal crystallization with citric acid.
Table 3. Life cycle inventory to calculate CED of production of CeO2 nanoparticles through microwave hydrothermal.
Table 4. Range of ENMs applied to soil based on available literature.
Table 5. Effect of ENMs and conventional seed coatings on seed germination.
Table 6. Effect of ENMs and conventional chemicals on yield through foliar application.
About this article
Cite this article
Gilbertson, L.M., Pourzahedi, L., Laughton, S. et al. Guiding the design space for nanotechnology to advance sustainable crop production. Nat. Nanotechnol. 15, 801–810 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-020-0706-5