Landscape and micronutrient fertilizer effect on agro-fortified wheat and teff grain nutrient concentration in western Amhara


Tilahun Amede

Elizabeth Bailey

Abdul Wahab Mossa

Dereje Tirfessa


Getachew Agegnehu

Tesfaye Shiferaw Sida

Stephan Haefele

R. Murray Lark

Martin Broadley

Samuel Gameda

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Open Access

Summary or description

Agronomic biofortification, encompassing the use of mineral and organic nutrient resources which improve micronutrient concentrations in staple crops is a potential strategy to promote the production of and access to micronutrient-dense foods at the farm level. However, the heterogeneity of smallholder farming landscapes presents challenges on implementing agronomic biofortification. Here, we test the effects of zinc (Zn)- and selenium (Se)-containing fertilizer on micronutrient concentrations of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and teff (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) grown under different landscape positions and with different micronutrient fertilizer application methods in the western Amhara region of Ethiopia. Field experiments were established in three landscape positions at three sites, with five treatments falling into three broad categories: (1) nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate; (2) micronutrient fertilizer application method; (3) sole or co-application of Zn and Se fertilizer. Treatments were replicated across five farms per landscape position and over two cropping seasons (2018 and 2019). Grain Zn concentration ranged from 26.6 to 36.4 mg kg−1 in wheat and 28.5–31.2 mg kg−1 in teff. Grain Se concentration ranged from 0.02 to 0.59 mg kg−1 in wheat while larger concentrations of between 1.01 and 1.55 mg kg−1 were attained in teff. Larger concentrations of Zn and Se were consistently attained when a foliar fertilizer was applied. Application of ⅓ nitrogen (N) yielded significantly larger grain Se concentration in wheat compared to a recommended N application rate. A moderate landscape effect on grain Zn concentration was observed in wheat but not in teff. In contrast, strong evidence of a landscape effect was observed for wheat and teff grain Se concentration. There was no evidence for any interaction of the treatment contrasts with landscape position except in teff, where an interaction effect between landscape position and Se application was observed. Our findings indicate an effect of Zn, Se, N, landscape position, and its interaction effect with Se on grain micronutrient concentrations. Agronomic biofortification of wheat and teff with micronutrient fertilizers is influenced by landscape position, the micronutrient fertilizer application method and N fertilizer management. The complexity of smallholder environmental settings and different farmer socio-economic opportunities calls for the optimization of nutritional agronomy landscape trials. Targeted application of micronutrient fertilizers across a landscape gradient is therefore required in ongoing agronomic biofortification interventions, in addition to the micronutrient fertilizer application method and the N fertilizer management strategy.

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Repositorio Institucional de Publicaciones Multimedia del CIMMYT




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