Chinese scientists have developed a new kind of nanocomposite that can replace more costly and polluting conventional chemical methods for inhibiting preharvest sprouting of wheat.
Under humid conditions, wheat planting is at constant risk of pre-harvest sprouting (PHS). PHS is considered one of the major food security threats around the world as it affects the yield and seeding.
Normally, scientists address the problem by developing anti-sprouting wheat varieties or applying chemicals to the seeds.
The chemical method presents a higher cost and a high risk of pollution, according to Wu Lifang, leader of the research team in Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Wu's team developed a hydrophobic nanomaterial by modifying palygorskite, a common type of clay soil. The new material can significantly reduce wheat seeds' respiration and absorption of water by forming a hydrophobic layer on the surface of the seeds, Wu said.
"The new method can play an important role in improving the quality of the wheat and reducing the use of chemical pesticides," Wu said.
Research findings have been published in the latest issue of Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, a publication under the American Chemical Society.