Soil factors affecting selenium concentration in wheat grain and the fate and speciation of Se fertilisers applied to soil
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UK crops have a low selenium (Se) status, therefore Se fertilisation of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) at 10 field sites was investigated and the effect on the content and speciation of Se in soils determined. Soil characterisation was carried out at each field site to determine the soil factors that may influence wheat grain Se concentrations in unfertilised plots. Soil samples were taken after harvest from each treatment to determine the fate and speciation of selenate fertiliser applied to soil. Wheat grain Se concentrations could be predicted from soil Se concentration and soil extractable sulphur (S) using the following regression model: Grain Se = a + b(total soil Se) + c(extractable soil Se) - d(extractable soil S), with 86 % of the variance being accounted for, suggesting that these properties control Se concentrations in grain from unfertilised plots. Extractable soil Se concentrations were low (2.4 – 12.4 µg kg−1) and predominantly consisted of selenite (up to 70 % of extractable Se) and soluble organic forms, whereas selenate was below the detection limit. Little of the added Se, in either liquid or granular form was left in the soil after crop harvest. Se fertilisation up to 20 g ha−1 did not lead to a significant Se accumulation in the soil, suggesting losses of Se unutilised by the crop.