Effects of Nutrient Antagonism and Synergism on Fertilizer Use Efficiency

This study provides an overview of interactions between nutrients as reflected in crop yield. Based on a search query, scientific articles were collected from which studies were selected that considered the interaction effects of specific nutrients on yield levels. Priority was given to articles in which single nutrient effects and the interaction effects on yields were studied. In total 96 articles were selected, revealing 116 interactions between all macro- and micronutrients for different agricultural crops. In 42 cases the interaction was synergistic (positive), in 17 cases the interaction was antagonistic (negative), and in 34 cases the interaction was additive (zero-interaction); the other 23 cases resulted in a non-significant (16) or a negative response (7). It is obvious that the number of studied interactions, as published in peer-review scientific articles, is low, so that it is difficult to formulate definitive conclusions. Nevertheless, some general findings include the following: a. When the availability of two nutrients is characterized as deficient, a large increase in yield can be expected by diminishing these deficiencies. b. For most macronutrients the mutual interactions on yield levels are synergistic c. Antagonistic (or negative) effects on yield levels are often found for divalent cations. Because nutrient interactions have been studied for a limited number of crops (varieties), nutrients, soll types and climates, care must be taken to extrapolate individual results to other situations. Relating the interaction effects of nutrients on yield to universal mechanisms can be a way to increase nutrient use efficiency, especially for the group of nutrients for which the effects on yield seem rather hard to predict, such as Fe x Mn.
Nutrient use efficiency, Antagonism, Synergism, Nutrients
R.P.J.J. Rietra, M. Heinen, C. Dimkpa and P.S. Bindraban, 2015. Effects of nutrient antagonism and synergism on fertilizer use efficiency. VFRC Report 2015/5. Virtual Fertilizer Research Center, Washington, D.C. 42 pp.; 16 tables; 1 fig.; 229 ref.