Impact of sulphur fertilisation on crop response to selenium fertilisation

J. L. Stroud, H. F. Li, F. J. Lopez-Bellido, M. R. Broadley, I. Foot, S. J. Fairweather-Tait, D. J. Hart, R. Hurst, P. Knott, H. Mowat, K. Norman, P. Scott, M. Tucker, P. J. White, S. P. McGrath, F. J. Zhao

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UK wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) has a low selenium (Se) concentration and agronomic biofortification with Se is a proposed solution. A possible limitation is that UK wheat is routinely fertilised with sulphur (S), which may affect uptake of Se by the crop. The response of wheat to Se and S fertilisation and residual effects of Se were determined in field trials over 2 consecutive years. Selenium fertilisation at 20 g ha-1 as sodium selenate increased grain Se by four to seven fold, up to 374 μg Se kg-1. Sulphur fertilisation produced contrasting effects in 2 years; in year 1 when the crop was not deficient in S, grain Se concentration was significantly enhanced by S, whereas in year 2 when crop yield responded significantly to S fertilisation, grain Se concentration was decreased significantly in the S-fertilised plots. An incubation experiment showed that addition of sulphate enhanced the recovery of selenate added to soils, probably through a suppression of selenate transformation to other unavailable forms in soils. Our results demonstrate complex interactions between S and Se involving both soil and plant physiological processes; S can enhance Se availability in soil but inhibit selenate uptake by plants. Furthermore, no residual effect of Se fertiliser applied in year 1 was found on the following crop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Selenium
  • Selenium biofortification
  • Selenium speciation
  • Sulphate
  • Sulphur
  • Wheat


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