This idea stemmed when my professor asking us to propose an innovation that would contribute to scientific knowledge and has socio-economic impact. As an agricultural chemist and currently taking a M.S. in agricultural chemistry, I am motivated with the use of chemistry in the advancement and development of crop protection. I am knowledgeable about the pros and cons of using pesticide. I come up with this idea of using nanotechnology to increase the efficiency of a particular pesticide, and also address the use of agricultural waste such as coconut meat residue in one project.
What is it about?
The traditional pesticide formulations and their application can lead to the quick release of the active ingredients. The quick loss of the pesticides sprayed can be due to microorganisms, light, leaching, and volatilization. As a result, a more frequent application is being done to compensate for the losses due to these factors. This can lead to increased production costs, waste, health risks, and environmental pollution.
A controlled release technology aims to maximize the effect of the pesticide through a slower delivery rate and sustained release for longer duration. The principal advantage of controlled release formulations can be seen for a potent pesticide with a relatively short half-life in the field. The controlled release formulation can be valuable compared to the conventional formulation.
In the Philippines, the coconut is considered as the tree of life owing to the wide utilization of all its parts in the development of different products. One big industry resulting from this is the production of virgin coconut oil (VCO). In the VCO production, the coconut meat residue or sapal is usually thrown out after oil or coconut milk extraction. The coconut meat residue was reported to have high amounts of hemicelluloses predominantly galactomannan. I plan to use this agricultural waste as source of the polymer for the controlled release formulation.
My goal for this project is to increase the efficiency of a pesticide in terms of its use for crop protection by reducing the amount applied and decrease the environmental pollution from excessive pesticide application. This project could contribute to the growing use of coconut/coconut products and the coconut industry in the Philippines as well as increase the efficiency of a potent pesticide for crop protection that would be beneficial to the farmers and the environment.
Small product with big impact
My plan cannot be fully accomplished in one year if it is implemented. The development of the polymer and the incorporation of the pesticide in the polymer will be surely a tedious and a tricky process that would need complete optimization and characterization.
The first part of the project will focus on the collection of the coconut meat residue from a virgin coconut oil production or coconut milk extraction establishment and the subsequent extraction of the galactomannan in the coconut meat residue. It will be followed by purification of the starting material and the step by step synthesis of a polymer to be used for the controlled release. Then, the target pesticide will be entrapped in the synthesized polymer and will be assessed for its applicability. I will further perform experiments that aims on the in-vitro release to check the performance of the controlled release formulation created. I will also conduct characterization experiments to check the success of the developed controlled release formulation.
We are in this together
If my research comes into fruition, the conversion of the coconut meat residue into another useful product could contribute to the increase plant utilization, thus valuable to the coconut industry in the Philippines. The project will also be beneficial to the pesticide companies as this will spark the creation of innovative products for sustainable crop protection. Ultimately, I know this will be helpful to the farmers as this will reduce their pesticide input while still protecting their crops.
Manuben John Julius P. , Philippines