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Biodegradable packet

Pesticide in a packet

Biodegradable packet: safer use of fertilizers and pesticides in the field

EMBRAPA Biodegradable packet: safer use of fertilizers and pesticides in the fieldEMBRAPA

A biodegradable single-use packet developed by a group of researchers at Embrapa Instrumentation and the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) may promote safer and more effective use of agricultural chemicals in Brazil.  Made from starch, pectin and other polymers, the packet can encase any kind of water-soluble substance, such as fertilizers or pesticides.  The packet is then pressure-sealed and inserted into the soil, where it gradually releases its contents as it naturally decomposes.  The amount of product inside each packet can vary according to the farmer’s needs.  According to chemist Elaine Cristina Paris, a researcher at Embrapa Instrumentation, this method of dispersion prevents the chemicals from being washed away by the rain and ensures better uptake of these substances by crop plants, with less harm to the environment and to humans.  Fertilizers and pesticides are usually sprayed over crops, either manually or with tractors.  This often exposes agricultural workers to toxic substances that can cause cancer and other adverse effects on their central and peripheral nervous systems.

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