MIT Tata Center Researchers Unveil Inexpensive Way To Reduce Runoff Pollution By Adding Low Cost Polymers To Pesticide Spray


MIT researchers have found a way to make pesticides stick to leaves instead of bouncing off thereby reducing runoff pollution by using a clever combination of two inexpensive additives to the spray.


The spray is divided into two portions, each receiving a different polymer substance. One gives the solution a negative electric charge; the other causes a positive charge. When two of the oppositely-charged droplets meet on a leaf surface, they form a hydrophilic (water attracting) “defect” that sticks to the surface and increases the retention of further droplets.

The project was developed in collaboration with the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, which aims to develop technologies that can benefit communities in India as well as throughout the developing world. Spraying of pesticides there is typically done manually with tanks carried on farmers’ backs, and since the cost of pesticides can be a significant part of a farmer’s budget, reducing the amount that’s wasted could improve the overall economics of the small-farming business, while also reducing soil and water pollution. Decreasing the amount of pesticide sprayed can also reduce the exposure of farmers to the spray chemicals.

Based on the laboratory tests, the team estimates that the new system could allow farmers to get the same effects by using only 1/10 as much of the pesticide or other spray. And the polymer additives themselves are natural and biodegradable, so will not contribute to the runoff pollution.

The new approach would require only minor changes to the existing equipment that farmers use, to separate the pesticide into two streams to which small amounts of each polymer could be added. The polymers themselves are extracted from common, low-cost materials that could be produced locally.


In addition to pesticide spraying, the same approach could be useful in other applications, such as the spraying of water onto plants to prevent frost damage in places like Florida, where citrus crops can be severely damaged by frost but water supplies are already constrained.

Impact Recommendations- Impact investor Julia Balandina Jaquier & Sherryl Kuhlman, Managing Director, Wharton Social Impact Initiative

When I think of Frugal Innovations and how can startups get funding for their solutions to scale-up, I will say Impact Investors can be one of the groups for them to secure funding.

Here is an informative interview of veteran impact investor Julia Balandina Jaquier. Julia has written the book, Catalyzing Wealth for Change: Guide to Impact Investing, to offer perspectives on how to tackle social responsibility endeavors. She sits down with Sherryl Kuhlman, Managing Director of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, about her recommendations in the field of Impact Investing.

Jacob Riis Quote On Perseverance – A Motto To Live By

I have been a big fan of San Antonio Spurs basketball since 1999, when I first moved to Texas to start my Masters degree. I first read the stone cutter’s quote with regards to their success and that it had a prominent place on their office walls. It also became to me a motto to live by. I always remember it when I have success or see anyone else succeed. Here’s to perseverance!

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

-Jacob A. Riis, Danish-American Social Reformer