A team of Australian researchers has developed a pesticide that can not only protect crops from pests and disease, but is also eco-friendly. The pesticide has been called BioClay, which sprays the crops with special biodegradable clay without leaving any residue that can harm the plants or the environment.

The clay sticks to the leaves for a month, the researchers say. Although plants have their own immune systems, which allows them to fight many diseases, the clay gives them a better chance of doing it. Consequently, more crops, which are usually not good for harvesting, could be saved with the new technique. Crop production is also threatened by the effects of climate change, community, and regulatory demands but the biodegradable clay may ease some of the problems the agriculture industry currently face.

Dr. Neena Mitter of the University of Queensland said that plants’ responses to fight any foreign invaders is temporary so they wanted to look for something that lasts longer. They determined that BioClay binds to the plant’s RNA and it releases its effect slowly. But when the clay pesticide breaks down, it does not leave any effect that can harm the plant or the environment. Even in heavy rain, the researchers say that their clay can last up to 30 days.

“Once BioClay is applied, the plant ‘thinks’ it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself from the targeted pest or disease. A single spray of BioClay protects the plant and then degrades, reducing the risk to the environment or human health,” said Mitter. Mitter added that the method will improve food security around the world.  Zhiping Xu, from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), also stated that the agriculture industry can also enjoy many benefits with the new pesticide in the future.