Nanotechnology applied in agriculture: Controlled release of agrochemicals
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In the last few years, the use of nanotechnology to control environmental pollution has considerably increased. Several nanostructured or nanometric dimensional materials have been used as carrier vehicles in the controlled release of agrochemicals due to their biodegradability, low toxicity, low cost, high reproducibility, easy and fast preparation and characterization, water uptake, and reversible properties. The major advantages of these systems are the gradual, sustained, and controlled release over a long period of time, with the aim to improve agricultural and crop protection. In the case of agrochemicals, the scientific community also aims to obtain biodegradable matrices (biodegradable carrier vehicles) able to reduce the number and frequency of applications of nutrients and pesticides in the soil that would contribute to a decrease in environmental pollution and contamination by pollutants. Thus, it is evident that nanotechnology can play a decisive role in the agriculture field. However, only a few references (including papers and reviews) were found in the literature. This gap is most likely related to the short time that these nanomaterials have been studied for this specific application. With this in mind, the aim of this chapter is to collect reports about different polymeric, inorganic, and hybrid nanomatrices (nanocomposites) with great potential for applications as carrier vehicles in the controlled release of agrochemicals.