Nano-Enable Materials Promoting Sustainability and Resilience in Modern Agriculture
Intensive conventional agriculture and climate change have induced severe ecological damages and threatened global food security, claiming a reorientation of agricultural management and public policies towards a more sustainable development model. In this context, nanomaterials promise to support this transition by promoting mitigation, enhancing productivity, and reducing contamination. This review gathers recent research innovations on smart nanoformulations and delivery systems improving crop protection and plant nutrition, nanoremediation strategies for contaminated soils, nanosensors for plant health and food quality and safety monitoring, and nanomaterials as smart food-packaging. It also highlights the impact of engineered nanomaterials on soil microbial communities, and potential environmental risks, along with future research directions. Although large-scale production and in-field testing of nano-agrochemicals are still ongoing, the collected information indicates improvements in uptake, use efficiency, targeted delivery of the active ingredients, and reduction of leaching and pollution. Nanoremediation seems to have a low negative impact on microbial communities while promoting biodiversity. Nanosensors enable high-resolution crop monitoring and sustainable management of the resources, while nano-packaging confers catalytic, antimicrobial, and barrier properties, preserving food safety and preventing food waste. Though, the application of nanomaterials to the agri-food sector requires a specific risk assessment supporting proper regulations and public acceptance.