In this thematic report, agriculture is defined following the NACE (Nomenclature of Economic Activities) classification, where agriculture includes the use of vegetal and animal natural resources that cover the activities of growing of crops, raising and breeding of animals, harvesting of timber and other plants, animals or animal products.1
By enabling minute amounts of agrochemicals to be used in a targeted way, nanotechnology can help towards sustainable agriculture goals and could help improve food security in developing countries. Developments include applications in crop production and protection for more efficient use of agrochemicals and increased crop yield. Examples include nanofertilisers, nanopesticides and nanobiosensors to detect pathogens, as well as hydrogels, nanoclay or nanozeolites soil improvers to increase nutrient availability and enhance water-holding capacity. Nano-enabled remediation strategies for contaminated soils are also in development using organic (polymers, carbon nanotubes) or inorganic (nano metals or metal oxides) nanomaterials to absorb environmental pollutants.2
Nanotechnologies can be used to improve the bioavailability of nutrients in crops to help improve their nutritional value. The colour, flavour and texture of food can also be enhanced. Shelf-life of food can be extended using nanotechnologies such as nanoscale edible coatings applied to food. However, there have been some concerns about the safety of nanotechnology, as adverse effects have been observed in plants.3
1 NACE. (2022). NACE codes: Agriculture, forestry and fishing. Available at: https://nacev2.com/en/activity/agriculture-forestry-and-fishing
2 Usman, M., Farooq, M., Wakeel, A., Nawaz, A., Cheema, S. A., Rehman, H. U., Ashraf, I., & Sanaullah, M. (2020). Nanotechnology in agriculture: Current status, challenges and future opportunities. Science of The Total Environment, 721, 137778.
3 Neme, K., Nafady, A., Uddin, S., & Tola, Y. B. (2021). Application of nanotechnology in agriculture, postharvest loss reduction and food processing: food security implication and challenges. Heliyon, 7(12), e08539.