A natural insecticide produced based on Amazonian plants may become a new alternative to pest control, reducing the use of chemical pesticides used for the purpose. In addition to promoting pest control, the product, which is under development, will also control mites, fungi and bacteria in fruit plantations such as papaya, pineapple and cupuaçu.
The project is being developed by researchers from the Department of Physics of the Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam) and does not intend to harm the environment, farmers and consumers. In this scenario, project coordinator with a postdoctoral in Bionanotechnology Edgar Sanches stated that essential oils extracted from plants and used to make the biopesticide are natural chemicals with very low toxicity.
According to him, due to the volatility of these substances, it is necessary to use nanotechnology techniques in its formulation. "This is where nanotechnology enters, it allows us to encapsulate them, that is, to insert them into a nanoparticle made of biodegradable polymers, to protect them from volatilization," he explained.
The product works in a way that is compared to a gum bullet, where the filling is the essential oil and the shell of the bullet is the biodegradable polymer. Thus, the outer shells made of biodegradable polymers break down and release the essential oil directly onto the plants and microorganisms.
"This release can be modulated, which means it can be programmed so that the release of the essential oil takes place over a long period of time. This is a controlled release or prolonged release. This technology means that the concentration of the essential oil used is low, as well as reduces considerably the number of reapplications, since the effect is prolonged, and often only one weekly application can be performed," he concluded.