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Managing the Selenium Content in Soils in Semiarid Environments through the Recycling of Organic Matter

DOI: 10.1155/2013/283468

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Around 30% of the world’s population suffers from either a lack of one or more essential micronutrients, or the overconsumption of these minerals, which causes toxicity. Selenium (Se) is a particularly important micronutrient component of the diet with a well-documented and wide-ranging role in maintaining health. However, this important micronutrient can be lacking because soil and crop management are focused on high yields to the detriment of the quality of crops required to ensure a healthy human diet. Currently around 15% of the global population has selenium deficiency. This paper focuses on Se availability in semiarid soils and how micronutrients can be effectively managed through the recycling of organic matter. Because many mineral reserves are being exploited unsustainably, we review the advantages of using organic by-products for the management of the biofortification of Se in crops. This type of practice is particularly useful in arid and semiarid environments because organic matter acts as a reservoir for Se, preventing bioaccumulation and leaching. There are also potential local economic benefits from using organic by-products, such as manures and sewage sludge. 1. Introduction At least 60% of the world’s population either lacks one or more essential mineral elements or consumes food containing high amounts of toxic mineral elements [1]. Mineral malnutrition is a widespread problem in both developing and developed countries. This situation is particularly serious for some micronutrients, such as Fe, Zn, I, Se, Ca, Mg, and Cu [2, 3]. In the specific case of Se, 15% of the world’s population is already Se deficient [2]. Gupta et al. [4] stated that, in addition to the lack of studies on the ability of plants to uptake minerals, there are insufficient analyses of soil that determine the total nutrient contents. Similarly, there are no studies of the impact of different soil management practices on the concentration and distribution of micronutrient concentrations in the different edible parts of crop plants. The micronutrient status of a plant can be measured from the leaves because leaves contain the highest amounts of micronutrients. Micronutrient deficiency is easily detected in younger leaves, whereas toxicity can be detected in later stages of development in older leaves [5]. Several factors control the lack of Se content in plants including the genetic variety, soil management, soil type, and climate. The lack of micronutrient content in plants is common in humid temperate and tropical regions due to intense soil leaching caused by the


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