Importance of Zn Fertilization: Biofortification of Food Crops and Soil Zn Status

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Farming Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 17 September 2024 | Viewed by 7117

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Chemical and Food Technology Department, Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: fertilization; chemical extraction; nutrient concentrations

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Chemical and Food Technology Department, Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: fertilization; chemical extraction; nutrient concentrations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Zinc deficiency in humans is associated with dietary quality and is aggravated by the intake of low amounts of this nutrient, e.g., through foods of agricultural origin. These low Zn concentrations in plant foods are associated with deficient soils. Zinc deficiency in soils is one of the most common causes micronutrient deficiencies, affecting a wide range of soil types and has been found in many different agricultural areas around the world.

As an agronomic strategy, biofortification allows the concentrations of mineral elements in the edible parts of crops to be increased, thus alleviating human health problems associated with the insufficient intake of this micronutrient. However, the benefits obtained from proper fertilization will depend on the nature of the fertilizer, the soil characteristics, the cultivar, and the cropping system employed. Different sources of Zn are currently available to prevent Zn deficiency in soils. However, the availability, mobility, or reactivity related to the different chemical forms of Zn vary from one source to another.

This Special Issue aims to compile innovative papers that make significant contributions to our understanding of the behavior of the Zn sources applied to soils and their effect on the soil–plant–water system. Original research and review papers are welcome.

Dr. Patricia Almendros
Prof. Dr. Ana Francisca Obrador 
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • agronomic efficiency
  • micronutrient concentrations
  • nutrient translocation
  • combined fertilization
  • traditional chemical extraction
  • nutritional quality
  • Zn availability

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 1446 KiB  
Article
Comparative Study of Traditional and Environmentally Friendly Zinc Sources Applied in Alkaline Fluvisol Soil: Lettuce Biofortification and Soil Zinc Status
by Raquel Ortiz, Gabriel Gascó, Ana Méndez, Laura Sanchez-Martín, Ana Obrador and Patricia Almendros
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3014; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123014 - 08 Dec 2023
Viewed by 872
Abstract
The use of highly effective sources of zinc (Zn) in alkaline agricultural soils is essential to achieve crop biofortification, maintain crop quality, and avoid potential environmental risks. This research examines the efficacy of environmentally friendly Zn complexes (citric acid, CIT and glycine, GLY) [...] Read more.
The use of highly effective sources of zinc (Zn) in alkaline agricultural soils is essential to achieve crop biofortification, maintain crop quality, and avoid potential environmental risks. This research examines the efficacy of environmentally friendly Zn complexes (citric acid, CIT and glycine, GLY) compared to a traditional source (ZnSO4) for the lettuce cultivation in alkaline soil. The effectiveness of Zn sources was assessed based on the concentration of total and soluble Zn, plant biomass, and contents of photosynthetic pigments. The soil Zn status was also evaluated. While all Zn sources (Zn-GLY, Zn-CIT, and ZnSO4) showed positive effects on lettuce growth, Zn-GLY exhibited the highest efficacy. This source exhibited increases of 230%, 502%, 296%, and 409% over the control in Zn concentration in young and mature leaves, soluble Zn, and Zn uptake, respectively. Zn-GLY also resulted in a 371% increase in soil exchangeable Zn concentration, compared to the control treatment. Our findings indicate that Zn-GLY could replace the traditional ZnSO4 treatment, as it achieved high Zn biofortification of lettuce and a high concentration of Zn available in the medium-long term in the soil. The beneficial effect of the chelating agent GLY on plant chlorophyll and carotenoid contents is also remarkable. Full article
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20 pages, 4202 KiB  
Article
Role of Temporal Zn Fertilization along with Zn Solubilizing Bacteria in Enhancing Zinc Content, Uptake, and Zinc Use Efficiency in Wheat Genotypes and Its Implications for Agronomic Biofortification
by Azizullah Khalili, Abdul Qayyum, Sami Ullah Khan, Iltaf Ullah and Ahlam Khalofah
Agronomy 2023, 13(11), 2677; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112677 - 25 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1009
Abstract
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a vital cereal crop for food security in Pakistan. In Zn-deficient soils, its productivity and quality suffer, affecting grain yield, Zn bioavailability, and nutrition, which can lead to malnutrition. Field experiments were conducted using factorial randomized block [...] Read more.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a vital cereal crop for food security in Pakistan. In Zn-deficient soils, its productivity and quality suffer, affecting grain yield, Zn bioavailability, and nutrition, which can lead to malnutrition. Field experiments were conducted using factorial randomized block design at the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) Tarnab, Peshawar, Pakistan to evaluate the impact of wheat genotypes (G1-TRB-72-311 synthetic hexaploid, G2-TRB-89-348 advanced line, and G3-Pirsabak-19-approved variety), Zn application methods (AM1: no Zn application, AM2: seed priming with 0.5% Zn, AM3: soil application of 10 kg ha−1 Zn, and AM4: foliar application of 0.5% Zn), and the experiment also explored the use of ZSB (BF1: with bacteria, BF0: without bacteria) to cope with Zn deficiency. The study revealed significant impacts on wheat’s Zn content, uptake, and nutrient efficiency, arising from genotypes variance, Zn application approaches, and ZSB. TRB-72-311 synthetic hexaploid genotype with 0.5% foliar Zn and ZSB excelled, enhancing grain (17.8%) and straw Zn (23.1%), increasing total Zn uptake (55.0%), reducing grain phytic acid (11.7%), and boosting Zn-related efficiencies in wheat. These results prompt further discussion regarding the potential implications for agricultural practices. In conclusion, utilizing the TRB-72-311 genotype with 0.5% foliar Zn application and ZSB enhances wheat’s Zn content, uptake, grain quality, and addresses malnutrition. Full article
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21 pages, 1709 KiB  
Article
Landscape and Micronutrient Fertilizer Effect on Agro-Fortified Wheat and Teff Grain Nutrient Concentration in Western Amhara
by Muneta G. Manzeke-Kangara, Tilahun Amede, Elizabeth H. Bailey, Lolita Wilson, Abdul W. Mossa, Dereje Tirfessa, Mesfin K. Desta, Tadesse G. Asrat, Getachew Agegnehu, Tesfaye S. Sida, Gizaw Desta, Tadele Amare, Beamlaku Alemayehu, Stephan M. Haefele, R. Murray Lark, Martin R. Broadley and Sam Gameda
Agronomy 2023, 13(10), 2598; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13102598 - 11 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1585
Abstract
Agronomic biofortification, encompassing the use of mineral and organic nutrient resources which improve micronutrient concentrations in staple crops is a potential strategy to promote the production of and access to micronutrient-dense foods at the farm level. However, the heterogeneity of smallholder farming landscapes [...] Read more.
Agronomic biofortification, encompassing the use of mineral and organic nutrient resources which improve micronutrient concentrations in staple crops is a potential strategy to promote the production of and access to micronutrient-dense foods at the farm level. However, the heterogeneity of smallholder farming landscapes presents challenges on implementing agronomic biofortification. Here, we test the effects of zinc (Zn)- and selenium (Se)-containing fertilizer on micronutrient concentrations of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and teff (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) grown under different landscape positions and with different micronutrient fertilizer application methods in the western Amhara region of Ethiopia. Field experiments were established in three landscape positions at three sites, with five treatments falling into three broad categories: (1) nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate; (2) micronutrient fertilizer application method; (3) sole or co-application of Zn and Se fertilizer. Treatments were replicated across five farms per landscape position and over two cropping seasons (2018 and 2019). Grain Zn concentration ranged from 26.6 to 36.4 mg kg−1 in wheat and 28.5–31.2 mg kg−1 in teff. Grain Se concentration ranged from 0.02 to 0.59 mg kg−1 in wheat while larger concentrations of between 1.01 and 1.55 mg kg−1 were attained in teff. Larger concentrations of Zn and Se were consistently attained when a foliar fertilizer was applied. Application of ⅓ nitrogen (N) yielded significantly larger grain Se concentration in wheat compared to a recommended N application rate. A moderate landscape effect on grain Zn concentration was observed in wheat but not in teff. In contrast, strong evidence of a landscape effect was observed for wheat and teff grain Se concentration. There was no evidence for any interaction of the treatment contrasts with landscape position except in teff, where an interaction effect between landscape position and Se application was observed. Our findings indicate an effect of Zn, Se, N, landscape position, and its interaction effect with Se on grain micronutrient concentrations. Agronomic biofortification of wheat and teff with micronutrient fertilizers is influenced by landscape position, the micronutrient fertilizer application method and N fertilizer management. The complexity of smallholder environmental settings and different farmer socio-economic opportunities calls for the optimization of nutritional agronomy landscape trials. Targeted application of micronutrient fertilizers across a landscape gradient is therefore required in ongoing agronomic biofortification interventions, in addition to the micronutrient fertilizer application method and the N fertilizer management strategy. Full article
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19 pages, 1530 KiB  
Article
Interaction of ZnO Nanoparticles with Metribuzin in a Soil–Plant System: Ecotoxicological Effects and Changes in the Distribution Pattern of Zn and Metribuzin
by Concepción García-Gómez, Rosa Ana Pérez, Beatriz Albero, Ana Obrador, Patricia Almendros and María Dolores Fernández
Agronomy 2023, 13(8), 2004; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13082004 - 28 Jul 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1055
Abstract
The use of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs), applied as a possible micronutrient source, in conjunction with organic pesticides in agricultural soils has the potential to alter the environmental behavior and toxicity of these chemicals to soil biota. This research examines the joint [...] Read more.
The use of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs), applied as a possible micronutrient source, in conjunction with organic pesticides in agricultural soils has the potential to alter the environmental behavior and toxicity of these chemicals to soil biota. This research examines the joint effects of ZnO NPs and the herbicide metribuzin (MTZ) on phytotoxicity to plants, toxicity to soil microorganisms, and the accumulation of Zn and MTZ in plants. After 23 days, effects on growth, photosynthetic pigment content, and oxidative stress biomarkers in bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris) and soil enzymatic activities were evaluated. Additionally, the amounts of Zn and MTZ (and the latter’s main metabolites) in soil and plant tissues were quantified. ZnO NPs reduced ammonium oxidase activity and growth among MTZ-stressed plants while reducing photosynthetic pigment levels and enhancing antioxidant enzymatic activities. MTZ had a marginal impact on the availability and accumulation of Zn in plant tissues, although significant effects were observed in some specific cases. In turn, ZnO NPs drastically affected MTZ degradation in soil and influenced MTZ accumulation/metabolization in the bean plants. Our findings indicate that the indirect effects of ZnO NPs, through their interaction with commonly used organic pesticides, may be relevant and should be taken into account in agricultural soils. Full article
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Review

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14 pages, 332 KiB  
Review
Effectiveness of Agronomic Biofortification Strategy in Fighting against Hidden Hunger
by Demeke Teklu, Dawd Gashu, Edward J. M. Joy, Tilahun Amede and Martin R. Broadley
Agronomy 2023, 13(8), 2173; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13082173 - 19 Aug 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1901
Abstract
Micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs), also known as hidden hunger, affect more than a quarter of the global population. Agronomic biofortification helps to increase the concentration of a target mineral in food crops and improve human mineral dietary intake. It is a means of providing [...] Read more.
Micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs), also known as hidden hunger, affect more than a quarter of the global population. Agronomic biofortification helps to increase the concentration of a target mineral in food crops and improve human mineral dietary intake. It is a means of providing nutrient-dense foods to a larger population, especially among rural resource-poor settings, providing that they have access to mineral fertilizers. However, the feasibility of agronomic biofortification in combating hidden hunger depends on several factors in addition to fertilizer access, including crop type, genotype, climate, soils, and soil mineral interactions. Consideration of its effectiveness in increasing human mineral intake to the daily requirements and the improvement of human health and the cost-effectiveness of the program is also important. In this paper, we review the available literature regarding the potential effectiveness and challenges of agronomic biofortification to improve crop micronutrient concentrations and reduce hidden hunger. Full article
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