The research team also includes researchers – Dr C Kannan and Divya Mishra from ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research Dr R Balamurugan and Mou Mandal from School of Chemistry, Hyderabad University. This is the second such innovation in the agricultural sector since last year by IIT-Kanpur.
Last year, of the 107 patents filed by the institute, a breakthrough invention was the Bhu-Parikshak soil testing device which was found to significantly reduce the time and hassle required to test soil in the laboratory. Professor Abhay Karandikar, Director of IIT Kanpur, said, “Our institute has undertaken many innovative high-tech projects to help farmers. As the problems faced by farmers are manifold, our efforts have also been relentless to enrich the whole ecosystem of agriculture, in general. The invention of these new nanoparticles would reduce concerns about crop infection and boost crop yield.
The technology is a protective biological alternative that can be used to improve crop protection against various diseases in the agricultural field, especially for rice crops. It is developed as a biodegradable nanoparticle system with a metabolite – the end product of the metabolism or food conversion process, extracted from the natural common soil fungus – Trichoderma asperellum Strain TALK1.
This extracted metabolite can be used as an effective and degradable carbon-encompassing organic antimicrobial agent to provide crop disease protection and soil enrichment. Prof. Karandikar said the invention has similar benefits to chemical pesticides but is safe and biodegradable unlike them, can offer multiple actions eg – biopesticide, phyto-stimulants, fast acting as it is applied in bioactive forms, the bio formulation protects the active compound from high temperature.
Natural products are in great demand for plant protection in organic farming and products for export. The organic formulation is non-toxic in nature, environmentally friendly, easily degradable and is recognized as a powerful natural inhibitor to suppress the growth and development of soil plant pathogens including fungi and bacteria. The invention also helps to overcome some shortcomings such as less control of bioavailability, premature degradation and crop uptake, making it a feasible option for farmers.