Nanomaterials in Plant Protection and Fertilization: Current State, Foreseen Applications, and Research Priorities

Scientific publications and patents on nanomaterials (NM) used in plant protection or fertilizer products have exponentially increased since the millennium shift. While the United States and Germany have published the highest number of patents, Asian countries released most scientific articles. About 40% of all contributions deal with carbon-based NM, followed by titanium dioxide, silver, silica, and alumina. Nanomaterials come in many diverse forms (surprisingly often ≫100 nm), from solid doped particles to (often nonpersistent) polymer and oil–water based structures. Nanomaterials serve equally as additives (mostly for controlled release) and active constituents. Product efficiencies possibly increased by NM should be balanced against enhanced environmental NM input fluxes. The dynamic development in research and its considerable public perception are in contrast with the currently still very small number of NM-containing products on the market. Nanorisk assessment and legislation are largely in their infancies.