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Fighting Selenium Deficiency

11.11.2010
Approximately 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a deficiency of selenium, an essential nutrient for liver, heart, thyroid, and immune function. Since selenium deficiency is prevalent in Southeast Asia, researchers are studying the best biofortification for lowland rice production.

In a study funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the soil retention of three types of selenium was tested. The research appears in the September-October issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

According to researchers at the University of Adelaide, biofortification of rice with selenium is most easily performed by adding selenium-enriched fertilizers to rice either as a spray or as a fertilizer amendment to the soil. Lowland rice soil is usually flooded, unlike upland rice soil which served as the control variable in the experiment.

Lakmalie Premarathna, University of Adelaide, and the author of the paper, measured the availability of selenium in rice crops when a pre-plant fertilizer was added.

“Elemental selenium is unsuitable as a pre-plant fertilizer for lowland rice as it is not readily oxidized in the soil to soluble forms that crops can absorb,” she says. Selenite and selenate were also ruled out because they became poorly available forms of selenium when subjected to flooding.

Adding selenium in foliar sprays is more labor intensive than adding selenium-enriched fertilizers to the soils at planting, but the fate of various forms of fertilizer selenium in flooded (lowland) rice soils is not well understood, according to Premarathna.

However, lowland rice paddies are drained a few weeks before harvesting. She suspects that levels of selenium could potentially return to suitable levels for crop absorption. Research is ongoing at the University of Adelaide to find the best biofortification for lowland rice production systems.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at www.soils.org/publications/sssaj/abstracts.

Soil Science Society of America Journal, www.soils.org/publications/sssaj, is a peer-reviewed international journal published six times a year by the Soil Science Society of America. Its contents focus on research relating to physics; chemistry; biology and biochemistry; fertility and plant nutrition; genesis, morphology, and classification; water management and conservation; forest, range, and wildland soils; nutrient management and soil and plant analysis; mineralogy; and wetland soils.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. For more information, visit www.soils.org.

Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.sciencesocieties.org
http://www.soils.org

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