In the everyday life of scientists around the world, the saying goes “one more day, another way of applying graphene.” Team Sherwin Kabiri from the University of Adelaide has learned to use this miracle material as a container for fertilizer of the future, with the prospect of becoming a “high-tech manure” of the nanotubes themselves. For the first time in history, plants will begin to receive nutrients on schedule without using human or machine labor.
The modern fertilizer industry has two pressing problems. Firstly, there is no ideal basis for pellets, which would ensure first preservation during transport, and then an effective return of nutrients to the soil. Secondly, in most cases, active substances are transmitted within 12-24 hours, whereas plants need supplementation on a flexible schedule, from day to month. Instead of the “poured and forgotten” principle, one has to watch what happens on the beds.
Team Sherwin Kabiri designed capsules of graphene dioxide, a material with a very large surface area and high strength. It does not break down, does not degrade in transit, can carry much more useful substances at the same granule size. But what is even more interesting is that the structure of the graphene capsule can be designed so that the substances leave it in the soil at a given time, for example, after 5-6 days from the time of introduction into the soil. Even as the seeds have already sprouted and need nutrition.
Australian scientists successfully tested graphene capsules as carriers of microelements based on zinc and copper, now they are preparing experiments with phosphorus and nitrogen. In the future, they want to ensure that the graphene itself in the earth breaks down into useful humic acids, does not pollute the soil with excess carbon. Commercial prospects for technology are so promising that the development company The Mosaic Company has already been puzzled by the issues of licensing know-how.