Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 191–204 | Cite as

Nanotechnology applications in pollution sensing and degradation in agriculture: a review

  • Sunandan Baruah
  • Joydeep DuttaEmail author


With the rise in the global population, the demand for increased supply of food has motivated scientists and engineers to design new methods to boost agricultural production. With limited availability of land and water resources, growth in agriculture can be achieved only by increasing productivity through good agronomy and supporting it with an effective use of modern technology. Advanced agronomical methods lay stress not only on boosting agricultural produce through use of more effective fertilizers and pesticides, but also on the hygienic storage of agricultural produce. The detrimental effects of modern agricultural methods on the ecosystem have raised serious concerns amongst environmentalists. The widespread use of persistent pesticides globally over the last six decades has contaminated groundwater and soil, resulting in diseases and hardships in non-target species such as humans and animals. The first step in the removal of disease causing microbes from food products or harmful contaminants from soil and groundwater is the effective detection of these damaging elements. Nanotechnology offers a lot of promise in the area of pollution sensing and prevention, by exploiting novel properties of nanomaterials. Nanotechnology can augment agricultural production and boost food processing industry through applications of these unique properties. Nanosensors are capable of detecting microbes, humidity and toxic pollutants at very minute levels. Organic pesticides and industrial pollutants can be degraded into harmless and often useful components, through a process called photocatalysis using metal oxide semiconductor nanostructures. Nanotechnology is gradually moving out from the experimental into the practical regime and is making its presence felt in agriculture and the food processing industry. Here we review the contributions of nanotechnology to the sensing and degradation of pollutants for improved agricultural production with sustainable environmental protection.


Nanotechnology Agriculture Sensor Nanoparticle Pollutant Degradation Photocatalysis 



Surface plasmon resonance


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Porous silicon


Thin-film transistor


Vibrio parahaemolyticus


Screen-printed electrode


Horseradish peroxidase


Volatile organic compound


Organic pollutant


Organic anion


Organic cation


Normal hydrogen electrode


Restricted-use pesticide



The authors would like to acknowledge the partial financial support from the NANOTEC Centre of Excellence in Nanotechnology at the Asian Institute of Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Royal Thai Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Excellence in NanotechnologySchool of Engineering and Technology, Asian Institute of TechnologyKlong LuangThailand

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