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Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 53: 83–92, 1999.

© 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.


Soil and crop management technologies for enhancing rice production

under micronutrient constraints

P. Savithri, R. Perumal & R. Nagarajan

Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India

Key words: productivity decline, micronutrient deficiency/toxicity, soil amendment, foliar spray, multinutrient

Micronutrient deficiency is considered as one of the major causes of the declining productivity trends observed in
ricegrowing countries. The submergence created for rice cultivation influences electrochemical and biochemical
reactions, and alters pH, pCO2 and the concentration of certain ions. This environment increases the availability of
Fe and Mn with concomitant decrease in Zn and Cu. It is well known that Zn deficiency is predominant in lowland
ecosystems. Sodic and upland soils and calcareous coarse-textured soils with low organic matter content suffer
from Fe deficiency, besides Zn and Cu deficiencies. Rice cultivars do not experience deficiency of B and Mo. The
acid soils and the lowlying, poorly drained alluvial and colluvial soils are prone to Fe toxicity. Experiments in
different agroecological zones all over India showed that Zn doses to correct Zn deficiency varied from 2.5 to 22
kg ha−1 ; 5.3 kg Zn ha−1 proved optimum and economical, with a maximum rice yield increase of 4.8 t ha−1 . In
the lowland ecosystem, amending the soil with the required amount of Zn before transplanting was effective and
easy to adopt, compared with repeated foliar sprays of 0.5% ZnSO4 or use of Zn-enriched seedlings through seed
soaking in 2–4% ZnSO4 solution, fertilizing the nursery with Zn, or seedling root dipping in 2% ZnO slurry. Hepta
as well as monohydrated ZnSO4 were better than other sources of Zn (ZnO, ZnCl2 and Zn frits). The Zn-blended
diammonium phosphate (Zn-DAP), superphosphate, and nitrophosphates also proved effective. The Zn-enriched
organic manures (farmyard manure, green leaf manure, and coir pith compost) were found advantageous for the
direct and residual crops. Zinc fertilization with an optimal dose of 25 kg ZnSO4 ha−1 once a year yielded high
economic return. A differential response of rice up to a maximum increase in yield of 4.8 t ha−1 was observed with
the foliar spray (1–2% FeSO4 solution) or soil incorporation of Fe (50 kg FeSO4 ha−1 ) with bulky organic manure
(12.5 t ha−1 ). The application of 12.5 kg CuSO4 ha−1 ameliorated Cu deficiency and significantly enhanced rice
production. Management strategies such as liming and additional multinutrient supply (P. K, Mg, Zn, Cu, and
B), besides improving drainage, enhanced the rice productivity of soils prone to Fe toxicity by correcting the
multinutrient deficiency syndrome.

Introduction million t during 1950 to 74.3 million t in 1990, a 263%

increase. This increase reflects the intensification of
In India, rice is grown predominantly in the Indo- rice production over four decades which has enhanced
Gangetic alluvial plains (Entisol and Inceptisol); river the demand for secondary nutrients and micronutrients
and irrigation command areas with Vertisols in the from soil and other sources.
southern region; Alfisols of the eastern, central, and Micronutrient deficiencies are becoming serious
southern parts of the country; and, to a limited ex- because of escalated nutrient demand from more in-
tent, in sandy soils of the coastal region. Rice is a tensive and exploitative agriculture, coupled with use
component of cropping systems in 11 of the 20 agroe- of single-nutrient fertilizers and low amounts of or-
cological regions of India (Seghal et al., 1992). The ganic manures. Phenotypical plasticity and physiolog-
gross area under rice increased from 30.8 to 42.7 ical versatility of plants buffer nutrient deficiency and
million ha (38.7%). Rice production rose from 20.5 toxicity to some extent, thereby moderating the effect

on crop yields. The nutrient uptake from the soil is also soils further limits the availability of Cu and Zn, with a
greatly influenced by capacity, intensity, and kinetic phenomenal reduction in the uptake of these nutrients.
factors (Neue, 1994). The limiting micronutrients in the uplands and in
Soil characters such as soil reaction (pH), redox coarse-textured lowland soils are Fe, followed by Zn
potential, texture, magnitude of calcium carbonate, and Cu. Submerged soils especially at low pH and acid
and organic matter are important factors that influence sulfate soils exhibit higher Fe concentration leading to
micronutrient transformation and availability. Sorp- Fe toxicity and multinutrient deficiency (Benckiser et
tion and desorption kinetics are linked with mineral al., 1982). In the coastal acid soils, rice suffers from B
equilibria of the nutrients in the soil (Ponnamperuma, toxicity (Cayton, 1985).
1972; Lindsay, 1972; Jahiruddin and Cresser, 1990). Analyses of more than 100,000 soil samples
Problem soils with constraints such as coastal and in- from different agroecological zones of India showed
land salinity, sodicity, acidity, and cat clays exhibit marked Zn deficiency (41.7%) and Fe deficiency
micronutrient deficiency. (12%); deficiency of Mn and Cu was less conspicuous
In the rice ecosystem, crop residue management (Singh and Saha 1995).
by recycling wastes and manures is the prime fac- The continuous rice cultivation over centuries in
tor that controls the long-term micronutrient balance certain tracts depleted available Zn and Cu and in-
of the soil. Micronutrient cycling in soils is closely creased soluble Fe and Mn. Old Cauvery Delta soils
associated with organic matter turnover because it is of Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, which have been
intricately related with trace elements. Organic mat- cultivated for centuries, exhibit Zn deficiency in more
ter decomposition also controls solubilization of pri- than 80% of the area. Zinc availability is not a big
mary and secondary minerals (Anand Swarup, 1991). problem in the new delta soils of the same district,
This paper discusses the micronutrient status of Indian where rice cultivation is recent (Table 1). The DTPA-
soils, a diagnosis of the deficiencies, and the amelio- Fe concentration is higher in these areas.
rative technologies for the management of deficiency
and toxicity of important micronutrients.
Diagnosis of micronutrient deficiency

Micronutrient deficiencies are usually diagnosed by

Micronutrient status in rice ecosystems visual symptoms and soil and plant analysis. Identi-
fication of micronutrient deficiency symptoms is com-
The concentration of nutrients and toxins in a flooded plicated by the simultaneous occurrence of multinu-
soil differs markedly from that in an upland non- trient deficiency, foliar discoloration due to disease or
flooded soil. A flooded rice soil is a complex of nematode infestation, etc. It is difficult for a farmer to
an aqueous phase, a solid phase, an interchangeable identify Zn deficiency symptoms, which are described
gaseous phase, and various flora and fauna. The main as Khaira in India, Hadda in Pakistan, Taya-Taya in
chemical changes brought about by flooding a soil Philippines, Akagare type II in Japan, and bronzing in
have an impact on micronutrient supply; the decrease the United States.
in redox potential due to the depletion of molecular Soil analysis is a diagnostic tool to identify defi-
oxygen leads to reduced Fe and Mn (Ponnamperuma, ciency, sufficiency, or toxicity of a nutrient (Gupta et
1972). Submergence for 10–12 wk increased the Fe2+ al., 1994). Micronutrient availability varies with soil
and Mn2+ concentration of soil solution, regardless type, texture, agro-eco-region, and nature of the ex-
of the soil type – black, red and lateritic (Katyal, tractant. Selecting suitable soil tests with an extractant
1977), calcareous (Thind and Chahal, 1983), sodic, that simulates the environment of root-soil activity is
neutral (Khind et al., 1987), and acidic. The concen- essential. The generally used extractants are 0.1 N and
tration of water-soluble Fe rarely exceeds 0.1 mg L−1 0.05 N HCl, DTPA, DTPA-ammonium acetate, and
at submergence, and it rises to 600 mg L−1 within a EDTA + (NH4 )2 CO3 (Trierweiler and Lindsay, 1969;
few weeks after flooding. The concentration of water- Lindsay and Norvell, 1978). The DTPA method is uni-
soluble Zn and Cu decreases in the lowland soils, and versally used to estimate available Zn, Cu, Fe and Mn.
Zn deficiency is a widespread nutritional disorder of The critical levels have been established for different
wetland rice (Neue and Mamaril, 1985; Neue and micronutrients and for divergent soils by the different
Lantin, 1994). The reduction of SO4 to H2 S in flooded cooperating centers of Indian Council of Agricultural
Table 1. Available micronutrient status (mg kg−1 ) of Table 2. Critical limits for available Zn and Fe content
Cauvery Delta soils of Tamil Nadu, India (Source: Na- of rice soils of India (Source: Takkar et al., 1989)
garajan 1983)
Old Delta New Delta Soil order Extractant limit
Micronutrient (745 samples) (400 samples) (mg kg−1 )
(Centuries of (Past five decades
Andhra Pradesh
rice cultivation) of rice cultivation)

DTPA-Zn Zinc
Range 0.11–49.3 0.08–49.4 Vertisol-Ca Dithizone and NH4 OAc 1.0
Mean 1.56 2.22 Vertisol-Frb 2.0
% soils deficient 80.4 47.0 Alfisol DTPA 0.70
Inceptisol 0.6–1.0
Range 0.15–26.0 0.20–23.2 Bihar
Mean 59 1.97 Calcifluvent DTPA 0.78
% soils deficient 18.8 14.2 Chromustert 0.90
Chromustert EDTA-NH4 OAc 2.07
Range 1.0–500 2.5–270 Gujarat
Mean 60.4 44.2 Inceptisol DTPA 0.90
% soils deficient 3.3 Nil Entisol
Inceptisol 0.1 N HCI 2.10
DTPA -Mn Entisol
Range 2.50–100 1.50–50.0
Mean 44.0 14.7 Madhya Pradesh
% soils deficient 0.30 Nil Inceptisol DTPA 0.45
Alfisol 0.60

Research-coordinated micronutrient scheme. For ex- Punjab

ample, the DTPA-extracted Zn varied from 0.45 to 2.0 Typic DTPA 0.80
mg kg−1 (a fourfold variation) in Indian soils. The cal- Ustochrept
careous soils testing less than 6.96 mg kg−1 DTPA-Fe
responded to Fe application (Table 2). Deficiency of Tamil Nadu
Cu, Mn, and B is rare in rice; hence, less research has Alfisol DTPA 2.0
been done on the evaluation of extractants and fixing Vertisol EDTA + (NH4 )2 CO3 1.1
of critical limits for these nutrients.
Foliar analysis is an effective and rapid method
of diagnosing limiting micronutrients in rice plants.
Calciorthids DTPA 6.95
Analysis of index leaves of rice at active tillering stage
can predict the micronutrient-supplying power of the
soil better than preplant soil analysis. The results can, a CT=coarse texture. b FT=fine texture.
however, be used to correct deficiencies of succeeding
Zinc threshold values (Table 3) for the rice plant Amelioration of micronutrient deficiency
reflect differences due to plant part tested, variety, age
at sampling, and location. The values were invariably Zinc
higher for the whole plant, compared with the third
leaf. Neue (1994) gives the values for assessing the Because lowland rice experiences widespread Zn defi-
deficiency/toxicity/sufficiency status of the rice with ciency in India, fertilization is common for Zn than
reference to micronutrients. for other micronutrients (Bansal and Nayyar, 1989;
Table 3. Threshold values (mg kg−1 ) of micronutrients for rice plants in India
(Source: Takkar et al., 1989)

Micronutrient Variety Plant part/sampling stage Critical limit

Zn IR20 Third leaf (45 DAS)a 9.8

Whole plant (45 DAS) 13.0
Kanchana Whole plant (50 DAS) 22.0
Sita Whole plant (50 DAS) 20.0
Jaya Third leaf (30 DAS) 12.0
Plant top (30 DAS) 16.0
Gonma Whole plant (30 DAS) 21.7
Plant top (30 DAS) 15.9
Cu Whole plant (90 DAS) 4.1
Fe Jaya Top half (30 DAS) 85.7
IR8 Leaves (55 DAS) 44.0

a DAS = days after seeding.

Katyal, 1985; Takkar et al., 1989). Many sources of in many experiments (Table 6) (Sajwan and Lindsay,
Zn can be applied by different methods. Well-tested 1988; Chibba et al., 1989, Deb, 1990).
application methods for Zn include broadcast/band ap- Mixing micronutrients with N, P, and K fertiliz-
plication, foliar spray, soaking or dusting the seed in ers will ensure uniform application and avoid sepa-
Zn solution/dust, nursery application, and dipping the rate application (Deb, et al., 1986; Ilangovan, 1986;
roots in Zn suspension/slurry. Mortvedt, 1994). The data in Table 7 show the use-
fulness of Zn-urea, Zn-DAP, and Zn-superphosphate,
Soil application of Zn compared with sole application of ZnSO4 .
Trials in different agroecological zones of India
showed that soil application of 25–50 kg ZnSO4 ha−1 Soil application vs other methods of Zn application
is optimum for rice (Sadana and Takkar, 1983; Ra- Basal Zn application may not correct Zn deficiency
jagopalan and Palanisamy, 1986). Increase in rice in some cases. For example, application of 25 kg
grain yield due to Zn fertilization varied from 0.14 to ZnSO4 ha−1 in two equal splits at transplanting and
6.5 t ha−1 (Table 4) with a fivefold variation (0.29 – tillering proved to be on a par with the same level
1.4 t ha−1 ) in average response. Zn addition increased of Zn incorporated at transplanting, while two equal
yield by 0.2–0.5 t ha−1 in 37% of the trials, less than split applications at transplanting and panicle initiation
0.2 t ha−1 in 28%, and 0.5–1.0 t ha−1 in 24%. The was not effective (Table 8). In such cases, Zn-deficient
wide variability in the response is natural, because it is crops can be saved by foliar sprays as an emergency
mainly influenced by the inherent Zn status of the soil. treatment. Results reported by Sadana and Takkar,
In another series of trials, a high response of 0.3 to (1983), Takkar et al. (1989), and Sakal et al. (1993).
0.8 t ha was obtained in a Zn-deficient soil, compared Data in Figure 1 show that foliar spray, root dipping,
with soils having medium Zn status (0.1–0.4 t ha−1 ) and seed soaking are either inferior to or just equal to
(Takkar et al., 1989). soil application. The suspension made from 1 kg ZnO
Rice response to Zn fertilization rates varied with (2–4%) was sufficient to treat enough seedlings for
soil texture, available Zn status, and rice variety (Table planting 1 ha, and its yield was on a par with soil ap-
5). The optimum level seems to be 5.6 kg Zn ha−1 plication. Bulk handling of seedlings for root dipping
(25 kg ZnSO4 ha−1 ). The level of Zn for sodic soil and protecting the treated seedlings from floodwater
was quite high – 11.0 to 22.0 kg Zn ha−1 (Singh and are tedious. Root dipping practiced in the Philippines
Abrol, 1985; Anand Swarup, 1991; Channel, 1992). (Castro, 1977) is reported to be advantageous (Sadana
Although different inorganic sources of Zn (ZnSO4 . 7 and Takkar, 1983).
H2 O, ZnCl2 , ZnO, Zn frits) are available, the hepta Rice yield is more limited by Zn deficiency dur-
hydrated form is the cheapest and most commonly ing rabi (winter) than during kharif (monsoon) season
used Zn fertilizer. It outperformed all other sources due to variation in temperature and radiation (Figure
Table 4. Response of rice to Zn fertilization in India (Source: Takkar et al., 1989)

Statea No. of trials Response range (t ha−1 )

<0.2 0.2–0.5 0.5–1.0 >1.0 Average

Andhra Pradesh 536 232 146 81 77 1.48

Bihar 807 95 343 298 71 0.54
Gujarat 67 38 11 9 9 0.70
Haana 75 13 35 8 19 0.58
Madhya Pradesh 27 14 8 4 1 0.50
Punjab 169 69 45 31 25 0.56
Tamil Nadu 176 64 91 17 4 0.32
Uttar Pradesh 18 1 7 9 1 0.29
All states 1875 526 686 457 207 0.62
% of total 100 28 37 24 11 –
a More than 50% of the sites gave grain yield increase of 0.2–1.0 t ha−1 due to Zn

Table 7. Effect of Zn-blended fertilizers on rice yield (Zn rate = 25

Table 5. Response of rice varieties (t kg ha−1 ZnSO4 )
ha−1 ) to Zn application (Source: Kr-
ishnasamy et al., 1994) Source Punjaba,b Bhavanisagarc Coimbatored

Variety Zn Level (kg ha−1 )a Control 4.80 2.94 5.19

0 5.6 11.2 ZnSO4 6.30 4.09 6.11
Zincated super – 5.90 3.56
ADT36 5.28 5.80 5.96
Zincated DAP – – 6.23
(9.7) (12.7)
LSD (5%) – 0.05 0.04
IR20 3.29 3.88 4.42
(17.1) (33.4) a Source: Nayyar et al. (1990).
CO 41 2.78 2.18 3.57 b Mean of 16 trials.
c Sources. Annual Reports, Micronutrient Scheme (1983–84).
(7.0) (28.1)
d Source: Ilangovan (1986).
Jaya 3.00 3.52 3.95
(9.8) (23.4)
Kanchi 5.36 6.43 6.43
1). Residual effects of Zn fertilizers are substantial, as
(20.0) (20.0)
reflected in the response of subsequent crops (Chibba
a Figures in parentheses indicate per- et al., 1989; Devarajan, 1989).
centage increase over control. Although the addition of 25 kg ZnSO4 ha−1 for
every crop led to high total grain producti6n of 6 crops
Table 6. Comparative efficacy of different sources of Zn on compared with other frequencies of Zn application, Zn
rice grain yield (t ha−1 ) fertilization in alternate crops was cost-effective, with
optimal maintenance supply of Zn in the soil (Figure
Source Hissara Hyderabadb Ludhianaccd 2).
Control 6.14 4.90 1.7
ZnSO4 6.89 5.70 4.5 Organic manures and micronutrient availability
ZnO 6.66 5.40 3.6 Organic manures supply Zn and other micronutrients
Zn frits – 5.70 3.3 to plants. They also mobilize the native Zn through
ZnCO3 – 5.50 – chelation and complex formation with organic lig-
LSD (5%) 0.18 0.50 0.40 ands. Fractionation of Zn in the Zn-enriched organic
a Source: Gupta et al. (1994). manures reflected an increase in the content of com-
b Sources: ICAR-coordinated Scheme on Micronutrients, plexed Zn. The positive effect of organic manure and
Annual Reports. crop residues in supplying micronutrients to rice is
c Source: Nayyar et al. (1990).
d Sodic soil. well documented (Dravid and Goswami, 1987; Du-
raiswamy et al., 1988). The effect of added organic
Table 8. Evaluation of methods and time of ZnSO4 applicationa to
rice (Sakal et al., 1993)

Treatment Grain yield (t ha−1 ) Total Zn uptake (g ha−1 )

Pusa Dholi Pusa Dholi

Control 3.77 3.25 229 188

Basal (100%) 5.41 3.77 350 307
Basal (50%) + at
tillering (50%) 4.63 4.03 384 332
Basal (50%) + at
panicle initiation
(50%) 4.18
LSD (5%) 0.19 0.14 32 91
Figure 3. Zinc-enriched organic manures for rice (Poongothai,
a Level=25 kg ZnSO ha−1 . 1993).

65 Zn studies confirmed the low availability and

use efficiency of soil-applied Zn (1–2%) (Rajarajan,

1991). The soluble inorganic Zn, when added to soil,
is readily adsorbed, fixed and converted into less solu-
ble compounds. Zn-enriched organic manures increase
the availability of soil-applied Zn to rice (Sharma
and Mitra, 1990; Poongothai, 1993). The use of Zn-
enriched organic manures has to be encouraged due
to their positive effect on yield and available Zn, with
a 50% saving of Zn fertilizer (12.5 kg ZnSO4 ha−1 )
(Figure 3). Use of synthetic Zn chelates is minimal
due to their high cost.
Figure 1. Efficacy of different methods of Zn application on grain
yield (t ha−1 ).

Iron chlorosis in rice often occurs on coarse-textured

manures was more pronounced in sodic soils than in soils with pH above 7.5, low organic matter content,
other soils. The effect on Zn availability, uptake of low total Fe, and high CaCO3 . Iron deficiency is com-
Zn, and grain yield was more for dhaincha (Sesbania mon on lands where water cannot be impounded for a
aculeata) than lignocellular coir pith (Channel, 1992). longer period to create a reduced atmosphere. More-
over, the Fe nutrition of the rice crop is a complex one
due to the involvement of nonspecific mechanisms [pH
and exudation of organic acids (Suguira et al., 1981),
and a specific one (Fe phytosiderophores). Correcting
Fe chlorosis by soil application of Fe is difficult be-
cause applied Fe is readily converted into unavailable
di/trivalent iron hydrated oxides (Lindsay, 1972). Al-
though soil application of FeSO4 ·7 H2 O at 10–20 kg
Fe ha−1 (Figure 4) helped to correct Fe deficiency, the
foliar spray of 1–2% FeSO4 was more effective. The
optimum rate varies with soil type, environment, and
available Fe status, coupled with mode of application.
Fifty-six trials all over India (Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab
and Tamil Nadu) showed a marked response – an in-
Figure 2. Frequency of Zn fertilization to rice – rice cropping crease of 0.2–4.4 t h−1 grain yield (54 and 334%) over
system, grain yield and DTPA-Zn (Devarajan, 1989). the untreated plots. The large increase observed for

Fe fertilization reflects the serious nature of Fe defi-

ciency in rice. The incorporation of organic manures,
in addition to puddling of the soil, helped to enhance
the availability of native as well as applied Fe, and
is often found advantageous in amending Fe-deficient
soils (Figure 4).

Combined Zn and Fe deficiency

In Tamil Nadu, direct-seeded, semidry rice is prone to

Zn and Fe deficiencies. An increase of 16.5 and 14.5%
over NPK control was realized in the direct-seeded,
semidry rice from soil application of 25 kg ZnSO4 and
50 kg FeSO4 or foliar spray of 0.5% ZnSO4 and 1.0%
FeSO4 at 15, 25 and 35 d after seeding, respectively,
in Typic Haplustalf of Cauvery Delta (Krishnasamy,
The best alternate strategy suggested for such nu-
trient stress conditions is the development of Zn- and
Fe-efficient cultivars. Rice varieties identified as tol-
erant of Fe stress include CO 33 and CO 41. Rice Figure 4. Iron fertilization of rice (Takkar et al., 1989).
varieties ADT36 and IET1722 are not recommended
for Zn-stress situations; resistant varieties IR5O and
ASD16 should be used (Velu et al., 1982). Nutrient toxicity

Mn, Cu and B deficiencies

Iron toxicity
The sodic soil and highly coarse-textured soils in
the rice ecosystem show low available Mn. Man- Iron toxicity occurs in poorly drained areas: depres-
ganese fertilization studies conducted in northern In- sion, swampy areas, and lowland valleys with lateral
dia showed that soil application of 50 kg MnSO4 ha−1 seepage and/or upwelling Fe-containing water (Sahu
increased grain yield up to 1.8 t ha−1 . Nevertheless, and Mitra, 1992; Elsy et al., 1994). The Ultisols, Verti-
a foliar spray of 1.0% MnSO4 is equally efficient and sols, young acid sulfate soils, and acid Histosols show
cost-effective. this disorder, which has been attributed to a concentra-
Little literature is available regarding the fertiliza- tion of high Fe2+ levels (300–500 mg kg−1 ) and low
tion of Cu and B because the problem is not severe in pH (Makerim et al., 1991; Konsten et al., 1994). These
rice. However, the continuous Zn fertilization of soils soils are recognizable by a red brown oily scum on the
having marginal Cu status may cause Cu problem in surface of stagnant water, which is more pronounced
the long run. Mostly copper sulfate (CuSO4 . 5H2 O) at the lowest elevation (Benckiser et al., 1982; Suresh,
is applied at 12.5 kg ha−1 to correct Cu deficiency. 1996). Excessive uptake of Fe causes the physiological
Drenching the foliage with 0.2% CuSO4 solution is disorder called bronzing, reported to be distributed in 1
practical because it is more cost effective. Scorching million ha of cultivated rice soils in Asia; it is reflected
of the rice plant of sensitive varieties (e.g. IR20) may further in the reduced yield of rice. In modem rice vari-
occur. eties, excessive Fe applied alone, or combined Fe and
In calcareous, sodic, and excessively permeable Mn, may limit yields. Fe toxic soils are characterized
soils in riverine flood plains, B deficiency may be by a relatively low cation exchange capacity (10–15
a problem. Studies showed that applying 1.5–2.0 kg mole p+ kg−1 ) weak base saturation, low buffering
B ha−1 as borax will overcome B deficiency in such capacity, and limited supply of available nutrients par-
conditions. ticularly P, K, Ca, Mg Zn, and Cu (Ottow et al., 1991).
Further, Fe toxicity is aggravated by the low levels of
P and K (Ismandaji and Ardjasa, 1989; Singh et al.,
Table 9. Effect of liming and fertilization on yield and nutrition of rice variety ASD 16 in Fe-toxic soils (Source: Suresh, 1996)

N: P2 O5 : K2 O (T1)) Ti + ZnSO4 25.0 kg ha−1 Ti + FS (0.5% ZnSO4 + 0.2%

(125 : 50: 50kg ha−1 ) + CuSO4 12.5 kg ha−1 CuSO4 + 1% DAP + 1% MOP)
L0 L1 L0 L1 L0 L1 LSD(5%)

Yield (t ha−1 )
Grain 5.35 6.47 5.45 7.92 5.93 7.79 1.015
Straw 5.50 6.32 6.56 8.21 7.25 9.01 –

Total uptake of nutrients (kg ha−1 )

N 72.5 91.9 81.6 119.0 101.0 124.0 6.010
P 12.9 19.3 15.8 27.3 17.3 28.2 0.713
K 69.0 96.5 74.7 118.0 96.6 140.0 4.070
Ca 9.9 21.5 14.0 31.1 14.3 27.7 1.017
Fe 10.9 4.3 10.2 4.8 12.7 6.4 0.509
Mn 2.2 1.3 2.4 1.5 2.7 1.7 0.902
Zn (g ha−1 ) 154 156 205 207 234 261 8.13
Cu (g ha−1 ) 67 62 86 82 92 89 ns

L0 = control; L1 = lime 9.6 t ha−1 F S= foliar spray at tillering, active tillering, and panicle initiation.

The excess Fe in the plant promotes sterility, which Conclusion

reduces rice grain yield by 20–80%. Iron toxicity can
be overcome by liming, delayed planting, and late
flooding. Rice yield can be enhanced threefold by The information presently available clearly demon-
draining the soil for 9 days 1 month after planting. The strates the importance of Zn deficiency in rice soils
water-soluble Fe content was halved by flooding and of India. The need for Zn and Fe fertilization for
draining, and this reduction in soluble Fe substantially direct-seeded semidry and upland rice is growing. The
increased grain yield (Zini et al., 1987; Singh et al., problems will be aggravated by the intensification of
1993). rice production to meet the growing demand. Rice
The multinutrient stress of rice grown in Fe-toxic response to Zn, Fe, Cu and Mn fertilization is impres-
soils can be improved by balanced fertilization with sive. Micronutrient research in India has developed
macronutrients, secondary nutrients, and micronu- various management strategies by focusing on level,
trients. In a trial in sandy clay loam soil (Aquic source, mode, and frequency of micronutrient fertil-
Hapludalf with pH 4.7 and DTPA-Fe 311 mg kg−1 ), ization. Organic manures fortified with micronutrients
liming increased grain yield by 1.6 t ha−1 and straw are highly useful. X number of efficient cultivars have
yield by 1.3 t ha−1 . Foliar spraying of multinutrients been developed for certain micronutrient problems.
(0.5 % ZnSO4 + 0.2 % CuSO4 + 1.0% DAP + 1% Future research strategy includes
MOP) in addition to soil application of major nutri- • generating data base for micronutrient status of
ents improved crop nutrition and grain yield (Table rice soils;
9). In addition, use of varietal tolerance appears to be • developing models for predicting crop response
an attractive strategy. The tolerance of 1R36, 1R42, and rate of depletion of micronutrient reserves in
1R46, 1R52 and Suakoka for Fe toxicity was estab- soils;
lished by Ponnamperuma et al., (1981). Screening • understanding the mechanisms of bioagents-
rice varieties is important for specific environments agents (blue-green algae and VAM) on micronu-
with Fe toxicity. Twelve varieties were evaluated in an trient availability;
Aquic Hapludaif soil with excess Fe; varieties TPS1, • increasing micronutrient use efficiency with inno-
ASDl6, ASDI8, TKM9, and CO 41 were not affected vative technologies such as enriching or fortifying
much, whereas ADT36 was highly susceptible to iron available organic manures; and
toxicity (Suresh, 1996).
• coordinating micronutrient research with breed-
ers, soil scientists, physiologists, biotechnologists,

pathologists, and microbiologists, besides animal Krishnasamy R (1990) Zinc and Fe nutrition of direct sown semi-
human nutrition scientists. dry rice. In: Krishnasamy R et al. (eds) Twenty-Five Years of
Micronutrient Research in Soils and Crops of Tamil Nadu. Tamil
Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore
Krishnasamy R et al. (1994) Twenty-five years of micronutrient re-
References search in soils and crops of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu Agricultural
University, Coimbatore. 192 p
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