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TISEDTalk: How do we unleash the potential of nano-fertilization to improve the environmental sustainability of agricultural crop production?

crop with a cloudy sky Despite continuous progress in the development of more efficient fertilizers and fertilization strategies, poor nutrient use efficiency (NUE) remains a major obstacle in the green transition of agriculture, which is aimed at securing crop productivity and quality while minimizing adverse environmental impacts. The inefficiency of conventional fertilizers is related to the inherent chemical properties of essential plant nutrients. For example, several nutrients (e.g. P, Mn, Fe, Zn) may become unavailable to plants following soil application, due to chemical fixation and microbial immobilization. Other nutrients are lost into the aquatic environment via leaching or into the atmosphere via volatilization. For instance, only half of the globally applied fertilizer N is utilized by crops, causing eutrophication, soil acidification and greenhouse gas emissions. Due to the low NUE of soil-applied fertilizers, nutrients are often applied in quantities far exceeding crop requirements. This wasteful practice represents a threat to the aquatic environment and climate, an economic loss for farmers, and an unsustainable use of natural resources.

To support a sustainable and climate friendly intensification of agriculture it is clear that crop production needs innovative solutions far more effective than the current portfolio of soil- and foliar-based fertilizers. Nanotechnology has an obvious potential to generate new and powerful tools for smart delivery of agrochemicals, including growth regulators, pesticides and fertilizers. Recent advances, especially within biomedical research, are now providing exciting tools that await implementation in agriculture. Extrapolating these advances to plant nutrition allow design of nano-fertilizers capable of delivering nutrients according to crop needs via a time-dependent or stimulus-responsive release. These advances open brand new avenues for the development of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) to improve NUE.

Husted's presentation aims at providing a broad overview on how recent advances in nanotechnology have been utilized in plant nutrition, reporting both the progress made and the challenges still to be overcome. He will show a range of recent experimental data showing how we are developing biocompatible foliar and soil based nano-fertilizers to improve nutrient uptake in a range of important crop plants.

Professor Søren Husted

soren  hustedProfessor Søren Husted is a distinguished scholar in plant nutrition and is currently a Professor at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. With an illustrious career marked by groundbreaking research and accolades, Professor Husted has made invaluable contributions to our understanding of mineral nutrition in agricultural crops.
Throughout his career, Professor Husted has been at the forefront of research exploring the intricate processes involved in the acquisition of mineral elements from soil by plants. Their work has advanced our fundamental knowledge in this area and shed light on the vital role that mineral elements play in plant metabolism.
In recent years, Professor Husted's research group has set its sights on an exciting frontier - the integration of nanotechnology with plant science. Their pioneering efforts seek to uncover the fundamental interactions between nanoparticles and plant tissues, aiming to develop the next generation of efficient and environmentally friendly fertilizers. This innovative approach promises to revolutionize agricultural practices for a sustainable future.
Professor Husted's impact on the field of plant nutrition has been recognized through a series of prestigious awards. These include The Brinck Award in 2012 for Excellence in Science, The Best Science Communicator of the Year in 2012 from the Department of Environmental and Plant Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, and The Physiologia Plantarum Innovation Prize in 2022 from the Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society (SPPS).

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