To secure access to food for the growing world population, significant increases in agricultural productivity are needed. One avenue to address this challenge is a more efficient use of agrochemicals. Today’s use of agrochemicals is very inefficient, which impacts plant growth and food production, presents a burden on the environment, and has a negative impact on global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Nanotechnology can help to provide solutions to more efficiently use agrochemicals. While nanomaterials have been extensively explored to address human health related challenges, most of the materials that are used so far in the context of agriculture are not tailored towards their specific application, and often are nano-sized reformulations of established active ingredients. The premise of this project is that the concepts and methods that haven driven the development of polymer nanomedicine, provide a unique starting point for the development of polymer-based “nano-agrochemicals“, which are specifically tailored to address key agricultural challenges. Focusing on the African continent, and specifically South Africa, the objectives of this project are (i) to identify agricultural challenges that are particularly attractive to be addressed using polymer nanotechnologies; (ii) to define materials design criteria for the synthesis of next generation, polymer “nano-agrochemicals”.
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