Fertilizer, More Nutrition
too much phosphorus to wheat and barley plants has been shown to raise
the amount stored as phytate, rather than as more digestible forms of
phosphorus. This finding is important for two reasons:
that are fed high-phytate grains excrete more phosphorus in their
manure, which can pollute water.
is a finite resource that could be irreplaceable
once it has been
thoroughly mined -- which could happen in the next 25 years.
researchers found that soil phosphorus levels may affect grain phytate
levels as much as plant breeding can, offering two complementary
solutions to the nutritional and environmental problems caused by high
phytate levels in grains. Besides being more environmentally sound,
getting the application rate for phosphorus fertilizers just right
might improve the nutrients delivered by grain crops such as wheat and
Not only is the phosphorus in low-phytate grain crops more digestible
by people, but low-phytate grains free up minerals essential to human
nutrition: zinc, manganese and iron.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist Edward J. Souza and
colleagues at the University of Idaho Research and Extension Center in
Aberdeen—David Bowen, Mary J. Guttieri and Karen M.
Peterson—made the discovery. Souza, formerly at the
University of Idaho, is now research leader of the ARS Soft Wheat
Quality Research Unit in Wooster, Ohio. Guttieri is now with the Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, and Bowen is
now with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., Johnston, Iowa.