Carbon Nanoparticles, the Future of Agriculture?

By Madelyn Pandorf, Graduate Student, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment


Crop production, an essential part of our daily lives, has become increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers to meet the food demands of our growing population. The increase in fertilizer use has led to environmental issues such as eutrophication, depletion of non-renewable resources, and nitrate contamination of groundwater sources.


The addition of carbon nanoparticles to chemical fertilizers has shown promise in reducing the amount of nutrients leached, while increasing the overall yield of the crop. Our study investigates the effect of graphite nanoparticles on the yield, nutrient uptake, and nutrient leaching of lettuce plants. A trend of decreased nitrate leaching, with carbon nanoparticle added, has been observed to give comparable yields when decreasing the amount of fertilizer applied by 30%. This could have tremendous impacts in areas where nutrient leaching is of concern, such as the Salinas Valley.


For additional information on carbon nanoparticles in agriculture check out our chapter, in the book, Nanotechnology Applications in the Food Industry, and the LCNano website.


I will be defending my thesis this April and will be graduating in May. Go NANO!