Green manure addition to soil increases grain zinc concentration in bread wheat.PLoS One. 2014; 9(7):e101487.Plos
Zinc (Zn) deficiency is a major problem for many people living on wheat-based diets. Here, we explored whether addition of green manure of red clover and sunflower to a calcareous soil or inoculating a non-indigenous arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) strain may increase grain Zn concentration in bread wheat. For this purpose we performed a multifactorial pot experiment, in which the effects of two green manures (red clover, sunflower), ZnSO4 application, soil γ-irradiation (elimination of naturally occurring AMF), and AMF inoculation were tested. Both green manures were labeled with 65Zn radiotracer to record the Zn recoveries in the aboveground plant biomass. Application of ZnSO4 fertilizer increased grain Zn concentration from 20 to 39 mg Zn kg-1 and sole addition of green manure of sunflower to soil raised grain Zn concentration to 31 mg Zn kg-1. Adding the two together to soil increased grain Zn concentration even further to 54 mg Zn kg-1. Mixing green manure of sunflower to soil mobilized additional 48 µg Zn (kg soil)-1 for transfer to the aboveground plant biomass, compared to the total of 132 µg Zn (kg soil)-1 taken up from plain soil when neither green manure nor ZnSO4 were applied. Green manure amendments to soil also raised the DTPA-extractable Zn in soil. Inoculating a non-indigenous AMF did not increase plant Zn uptake. The study thus showed that organic matter amendments to soil can contribute to a better utilization of naturally stocked soil micronutrients, and thereby reduce any need for major external inputs.