Human World

Aaron Strickland’s nano biosensor may help farmers manage crops

Aaron Strickland, a chemist at Cornell University, is using nanotechnology – the science of the very small – to develop what he calls a biosensor. He says this sensor should help farmers manage their crops.

Aaron Strickland: The specific idea was to incorporate sensors into pesticide spray, so that you can monitor how well was the crop field sprayed for pests for example, or adding nutrients to the crop field.

Here’s how it works. Small amounts of gold nanoparticles – a few billionths of a meter in size – are mixed with crop spray. That addition ultimately allows a hand-held laser scanner to pick up a signal of the fertilizer or pesticide. Strickland said knowing what additives are on crops should give farmers a better idea of when to spray again.

Aaron Strickland: So they can get a glimpse into their crop field without having to actually take samples, monitor the chemicals they’ve just sprayed, or send them back to the laboratory.

He said it’ll be years before the biosensors hit the fields and that scientists want more research on how this technique will effect the environment.

Thanks today to the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service National Research Initiative Program and Cornell University.

Our thanks to:
Aaron Strickland
Post Doctoral Research Chemist
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

March 5, 2009
Human World

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