Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 332, Issue 1, pp 31-40

First online:

Impact of sulphur fertilisation on crop response to selenium fertilisation

  • J. L. StroudAffiliated withRothamsted Research
  • , H. F. LiAffiliated withRothamsted ResearchCollege of Resources and Environmental Science, China Agricultural University
  • , F. J. Lopez-BellidoAffiliated withRothamsted Research
  • , M. R. BroadleyAffiliated withSchool of Biosciences, University of Nottingham
  • , I. FootAffiliated withLimagrain UK Ltd
  • , S. J. Fairweather-TaitAffiliated withSchool of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia
  • , D. J. HartAffiliated withInstitute of Food Research
  • , R. HurstAffiliated withSchool of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia
  • , P. KnottAffiliated withMarks and Spencer plc, Waterside House
    • , H. MowatAffiliated withVelcourt R&D, The Stables, Red House Farm
    • , K. NormanAffiliated withCarr’s Fertilisers
    • , P. ScottAffiliated withCarr’s Fertilisers
    • , M. TuckerAffiliated withYara (UK) Ltd
    • , P. J. WhiteAffiliated withScottish Crop Research Institute
    • , S. P. McGrathAffiliated withRothamsted Research
    • , F. J. ZhaoAffiliated withRothamsted Research Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


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.


Selenium Selenium biofortification Selenium speciation Sulphate Sulphur Wheat