Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element for humans and livestock. In the UK, human Se intake and status has declined since the 1980s. This is primarily due to the increased use of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grown in UK soils which are naturally low in Se. The aim of this study was to determine the potential for increasing grain Se concentration in a high-yielding UK wheat crop using fertilisers. The crop response of winter-wheat to Se fertilisation was determined under standard field conditions in two consecutive years at up to 10 sites. Selenium fertilisers were applied as high-volume drenches of sodium selenate solution, or as granular Se-containing products. Yield and harvest index were unaffected by Se fertilisation. Under all treatments, grain Se concentration increased by 16-26 ng Se g-1 fresh weight (FW) per gram Se ha-1 applied. An application of 10 g Se ha-1 would thereby increase the Se concentration of most UK wheat grain 10-fold from current ambient levels and agronomic biofortification of UK-grown wheat is feasible. Total recovery (grain and straw) of applied Se was 20-35%. The fate of Se in the food-chain and in the soil must be determined in order to optimize the efficiency of this process.
- Agronomic biofortification
- Selenium fertilisers