A MACROSCOPIC LOOK AT THE MICROSCOPIC FUTURE OF GROWING
BY JAMES PRIEST
There are numerous factors that contribute to the demise of soil ranging from pesticides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers to the over-tilling of the soil.
These are all areas that can be potentially fixed by carefully incorporating nanoparticles into your medium. In this right, nanoparticles could help to create living soil that would in essence, be super living soil. The question is, which particular nanoparticles are the correct ones and in what amount do they sufficiently create a symbiotic relationship amongst the microbial community without destroying it?
In the process of organic gardening utilizing living soil, fungi are beneficial in helping to protect plants from harmful microbes and dangerous pathogens. These fungi also help to create channels allowing for nutrients and H2O to be distributed to the roots of the plant. Fungi combined with bacteria work in the decomposition of organic materials that naturally create the nutrients plants thrive on.
When pesticides and fertilizers enter the picture the salts found within them suck the water from the soil, thereby causing beneficial microbes to become dormant. This cuts off the supply of nutrients naturally found in healthy living soil for you to supplement the nutrients for the plant with regular fertilizing.
ORGANIC SOIL INFUSED WITH NANOPARTICLES
Free living microbes, beneficial bacteria, soil remediation, and bio living soil may not be what you think is typical grower talk these days and you’re right. This is exceptional grow talk, that’s gaining the attention of growers, both newbies and masters, breeders, researchers, and geneticist alike. It’s estimated there are between 1 million upwards of 1 billion bacteria present and alive in a symbiotic microbial community in just one teaspoon of living soil. Nanoparticles exist in the natural world and are also created by humans. Because of their submicroscopic size, they have unique material characteristics, and manufactured nanoparticles may find practical applications in a variety of areas, including medicine, engineering, catalysis, and environmental remediation.” With that being said, let’s look at nanoparticles in soil and see just what the relationship is.
Nanoparticles are found in all of Earth’s soil. The particles occur both naturally and by the hands of humankind. When properly applied nanoparticles can help to repair soil by removing toxins. This means healthier soil and healthier plants according to some. Others say that the levels in which these nanoparticles are applied is unnatural and cause immense amounts of damage to the microbial community in whole.
Nanoparticles are a relatively new area of science for many. When many people think about nanoparticles they think about movies like the new GI Joe movie where Cobra used nanoparticles to destroy major landmarks. Or the Keanu Reeves movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still” and the destruction nanoparticles can bring.
Think about Transformers and look at Transformium. This was a nanoparticle based metal alloy used in the movie that could be manipulated by human interaction. Though these examples are sci-fi, to many they’re becoming a reality faster than many could imagine.
These nanoparticles are made out to look like terrors on the loose. In fact, nanoparticle technology is being applied to a multifaceted arena of life. From medicine to textiles and food, nanoparticles can both be helpful and harmful.
Imagine creating a bio-living soil that was rich in beneficial bacteria and free living microbes that had the perfect balance of induced nanoparticles to help repair soil before it could die or be depleted of natural nutrients. You could possibly grow plants that produced healthier and more bountiful results while reducing the amount of water needed to grow.
Nanoparticles such as the ones found in cannabis are also on the forefront of medicine with cannabis based nanoparticles showing great promise in treating strokes and heart attacks. In this same aspect nanoparticles are helping dying soil to find new life. The process of bioremediation takes soil that is ruined and introduces nanoparticles in order to repair it.
Nanoparticles can be harmful or helpful to the soil depending on the nature of how they’re introduced. Industrial accidents and landfills are great examples of the potential hazards when it comes to the introduction of nanoparticles into the Earths soil. At the same time, nanoparticles can be utilized in helping to clean soil through a process called bioremediation. Nanoscale Zerovalent Iron particles were utilized in several studies successfully removing a multitude of pollutants from soil.
Research has led to the discovery that organic nanoparticles tend to be less harmful and toxic than metal nanoparticles. The downside to the research is that it’s being conducted on a large part of nanoparticles that don’t occur in natural settings. Metal nanoparticles have been under the microscope. Laboratory tests and studies have been looking at their antimicrobial properties.
Copper, zinc and silver were specifically studied for the relation to not just the medical world but also the environmental world of microbial communities that are commonly located in soil. It was discovered that metal nanoparticles poised a much greater risk of building up toxins, damaging and harming the soil compared to their carbon-based cousins such as nZVI or Nanoscale Zerovalent Iron particles that are used in soil bioremediation.
Metal nanoparticles have been shown to affect the bacterial community. A study showed sewage sludge that had just 0.14 mg per kg of silver nanoparticles can alter the entire bacterial community structure.
Extremely high concentrations of carbon nanoparticles that are higher than the ones predicted to be located in the environment have negative effects. nZVI which is commonly applied in bioremediation of soil is said to have devastating effects for microorganisms in biodegradable pollutants.
Researchers are diligently studying to try and understand how nZVI treatments affect soil functions. Organic matter population, texture, and pH all effect the microorganisms that are living in the soil. These factors also determine the path of pollutants and how intense the toxicity could become.
The researchers say that most studies to date have only analyzed the impact of nanoparticle contamination using high concentrations and in a single type of soil. They recommend that future studies should use concentrations of nanoparticles that are likely to be found in natural settings (and over longer time periods) and should compare the toxicity of the same nanoparticles in different soils. More in depth research will help to lead to the identification of which soil properties influence the toxicity and bioavailability of nanoparticles.
Soil with the proper isolation of nanoparticles shows much promise in helping to evolve the future of agriculture in a positive way. Carbon based nanoparticles such as nZVI seem to be where it’s at for creating a healthy balance that helps with the remediation of soil.
Cannabis holds an incredible potential inherent in its range of beneficial nanoparticles, from the medicinal properties of marijuana to the agricultural, textile, and industrial applications of hemp. When you factor in the studies and research being conducted on nanoparticles and soil to the nanoparticle equation you can see the depth of range of these minutea unfold before your very eyes.