New method applies pesticides in nanofibers to keep chemicals on target

Mar 27, 2009 By Sheri Hall
Margaret Frey, left, associate professor of fiber science and apparel design, and research associate Chunhui Xiang have developed a method to deliver pesticides via nanofibers.

(PhysOrg.com) -- To prevent pesticides from drifting away and potentially posing risks to the environment, Cornell researchers have devised a solution: Apply the pesticides by encapsulating them in biodegradable nanofibers, which keeps then intact until needed and minimizes loss to drift or being washed away from the plants they are intended to protect.

"Our technology will decrease the amount of applied, which is good for the environment," said research associate Chunhui Xiang, Ph.D. '08, who worked on the new technology with Margaret Frey, associate professor of fiber science and apparel design in the College of Human Ecology, as well as Cornell experts in horticultural sciences and entomology. "All the materials are biodegradable and from renewable resources."

The new technology also extends how long the pesticides remain effective and improves the safety of applications. As the fiber biodegrades, the chemicals are slowly released into the soil.

Xiang, who was named the outstanding student of the American Chemical Society Division for and Renewable Materials last year, presented the material at the American Chemical Society annual meeting, March 22-26, in Salt Lake City.

"The chemical is protected, so it won't degrade from being exposed to air and water," Frey said. "It also keeps the chemical where it needs to be and allows it to time-release."

The delivery system is created by electrospinning solutions of cellulose, the pesticide and PLA -- a polymer derived from cornstarch.

For the initial trials, Xiang measured chemical delivery in the laboratory over a 16-week period. The individual fibers tested had a diameter more than 100 times finer than a human hair and could hold up to 50 percent of their weight in agricultural chemicals. The results showed that the chemical was released gradually over the entire four-month period, and that the rate of release could be adjusted by changing the composition of the fiber. The chemical itself did not degrade.

To find out if pesticides delivered this way could really work, professor Michael Hoffmann's entomology group planted 4-by-4 millimeter squares of pesticide-loaded fabrics with pole bean seeds in greenhouses on campus. Pesticide delivered from the fabric effectively controlled white flies on the bean plants.

Meanwhile, professor Alan Taylor's group in horticultural science is investigating use of these fibers to deliver pesticides with seed coating technologies. The team is also considering this system for direct application to plant leaves or stalks.

"It's the tip of the iceberg," Frey said.

This research is funded in part by federal Hatch funds, administered by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Provided by Cornell University (news : web)

Explore further: Potential therapy for the Sudan strain of Ebola could help contain some future outbreaks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pesticides need sunscreen to beat the heat

Dec 18, 2006

A pesticide with a new in-built sunscreen will help farmers beat the heat in crop protection. This means that the bug sprays last longer, as they are protected from the strong rays of sunshine, reports Chemistry & Industry, the ma ...

Biodegradable napkin could quickly detect biohazards

Sep 11, 2006

Detecting bacteria, viruses and other dangerous substances in hospitals, airplanes and other commonly contaminated places could soon be as easy as wiping a napkin or paper towel across a surface, says a researcher from Cornell ...

Study: Pesticides found in wine

Apr 04, 2008

A European environmental group said pesticides used on grapes were found in 35 of the 40 bottles of wine they tested.

Low level herbicide use can damage potato reproduction

Jan 07, 2009

Currently, plant testing in the United States to determine potential ecological risks from chemical pesticides to nontarget plants requires two tests, both of which use immature plants. Protection of the plant development ...

Pesticide concentrations decreasing

Oct 20, 2008

The widespread use of pesticides across the United States has been in practice for decades, with little knowledge of the long-term effects on the nation's groundwater.

Recommended for you

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

1 hour ago

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

New tool identifies therapeutic proteins in a 'snap'

Aug 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —In human and bacterial cells, glycosylation – the chemical process of attaching complex sugar molecules to proteins – is as fundamental as it gets, affecting every biological mechanism from cell signaling ...

User comments : 0