Graphene could be the fertilizer of the future

Scientists all over the world use the saying "one more day, another way to use graphene." The team of Sherwin Kabiri from the University of Adelaide has learned to use this miracle material as a container for fertilizers of the future, with the prospect of turning the nanotubes themselves into "high-tech manure". For the first time in history, plants will begin to receive nutrients on schedule without the need for human or machine labor.

The modern fertilizer industry has two pressing problems. Firstly, there is no ideal basis for granules, which would ensure first the safety during transportation, and then the effective return of nutrients to the soil. Secondly, in most cases, the active substances are transferred within 12-24 hours, while the plants need feeding according to a flexible schedule, from a day to a month. Instead of the "fill and forget" principle, you have to keep track of what is happening in the beds.

Sherwin Kabiri's team designed the capsules from graphene dioxide, a material with a very large surface area and high strength. It does not break, does not degrade on the way, it can carry much more nutrients with the same granule size. But what is even more interesting is that the structure of a graphene capsule can be designed so that substances come out of it into the soil at a given time, for example, after 5-6 days from the moment of introduction into the soil. Just when the seeds have already sprouted and need nourishment.

Australian scientists have successfully tested graphene capsules as carriers of trace elements based on zinc and copper, and now they are preparing experiments with phosphorus and nitrogen. In the future, they want to ensure that graphene itself in the ground decays into useful humic acids, and does not pollute the soil with excess carbon. The commercial prospects for the technology are so promising that the development company The Mosaic Company is already puzzled by the licensing of know-how.