Plants constitute the world's primary food source. Thus, due to demographic growth in recent years there has been a tendency to maximize agricultural yields. Active molecules are useful to improve different aspects related with their plants production and yield. Immobilization, encapsulation and vehiculization of active principles, as amino-acids, biostimulants and nutrients, among others, have been widely used in agriculture but also in other industries in order to protect, release and functionalize the desired active ingredient with more effective biological action. Thanks to vehiculization they are less exposed to adverse environmental factors and also help stabilizing the bioactive ingredient, potentially enhancing their viability and also the stability during storage. Different types of vehicles such as clays, polymers and liposomes have been used for such purpose. Clays are inorganic, inexpensive and naturally occurring materials with variability in chemical constitution depending on their group’s and sources being the clay platelets really nano-particulated. Clays often have very high surface area and cation exchange capacity that make them very useful to carry several kinds of substances. Intercalation of agrochemicals into nanoclays can offer multiple benefits. Galleries provide place for active molecules whereas inorganic sheets offer protection against environmentally induced rapid disintegration and intermolecular forces could guarantee sustained release allowing long treatments but using the same amounts of active ingredient. Particularly, the use of nanoclays for the controlled delivery of fertilizers, phytohormones and pesticides are open new studies and opportunities. Then, the use of nano-clay based systems could produce huge benefits for agriculture in the next several decades and the applications could be expanded into a much wider field of primary agricultural production. The aim of this chapter is to review the current developments in the vehiculization of active principles in nano-clays with promissory action and application to modern or more sustainable agriculture.
Nanoclay as Carriers of Bioactive Molecules Applied to Agriculture