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Industrial Crops and Products
Volume 170, 2021, 113646

Can lignin be transformed into agrochemicals? Recent advances in the agricultural applications of lignin

Umme Marium Ahmada,1, Na Jia,b,1, Hanyang Lia, Qiong Wuc, Chunfeng Songa, Qingling Liua, Degang Maa, Xuebin Lua,d

School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Biomass/Wastes Utilization, Tianjin University, 300350, Tianjin, China.

Abstract

With the increased use of agro-chemicals in the last two decades it has become crucial to find alternative chemicals that are less harmful to the environment and humankind. One such alternative is lignin which is abundant both in agricultural waste and black liquor from the pulp and paper industry. In recent years, research and development of lignin-based agro-chemicals has gained traction and demand, as well as its use popularized. Lignin can be transformed into agrochemicals such as fertilizers, pesticide, soil improver and plant growth regulator. This paper presents the various potential ways in which recovered lignin may be reused in agriculture. There exists a continued need for research, development, improvement and innovation in the ways in which it is used, so that along with reducing the dependence on conventionally available, harmful and potentially toxic agro-chemicals, a valuable resource will not be lost. Continued research in to mapping lignin structure, development of bioengineering techniques for unifying various lignin structures and cooperation between relevant sectors to promote and incentivize the recovery and reuse of lignin for lignocellulosic waste are key to this issue. By doing so, a major element of air, land and water pollution can be eliminated and an important resource recovered.

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