Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1953 Page: 57
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SOIL SCIENCE AND PLANT NUTRITION 57
year. The egg size of the New Hampshire and the White Leghorn
breeds was smaller than is commonly seen in similar flocks on the
mainland. It is not clear, however, whether this smaller egg size is
a result of a depressive effect of high temperature or is attributable
to the breeding of the birds.
Rapidity of digestion
In studies at the California station, it was found that food passed
through the alimentary canal of laying turkey hens in 3 hours and 13
minutes and through nonlayers in 4 hours and 16 minutes. Young
turkey hens required 2 hours and 27 minutes for food passage compared
with 3 hours and 52 minutes for old turkey hens. Thus age was
a more important factor than production. Laying chickens required
3 hours and 42 minutes, and nonlaying chickens 3 hours and 50 minutes.
Penicillin in the feed slowed the rate in turkeys and chickens of both
sexes, 4 months to 2 years of age, to the extent that the antibiotic-fed
birds averaged 3 hours and 15 minutes, whereas the birds on normal
mash averaged 2 hours and 57 minutes for food passage. Environmental
temperatures of 60 and 90 F. caused very little difference in
the time that the food remained in the digestive tract.
SOIL SCIENCE AND PLANT NUTRITION
Knowledge of certain chemical elements required by plants only in
trace amounts, has expanded quite rapidly in recent years. These
elements are usually referred to as trace, micro, or minor nutrients,
and include boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and molybdenum.
In terms of animal requirements, cobalt and iodine are also known
as trace or minor nutrients. Research with the former group of trace
elements has been selected for presentation in this report as an illustration
of the progress being made in soil science and plant nutrition.
Soil Studies With Trace Elements
Trace element deficiencies in the soil may result from an insufficient
supply of these elements, removal in crops, fixation in the soil, or
leaching. Since soluble compounds, used in fertilization as sources of
the trace elements, may be leached out of the soil, or become fixed in
an unavailable form, the use of insoluble sources has been tried. Such
sources, in addition to preventing leaching and fixation losses, eliminate
the possibility of harmful plant effects due to overapplications
of soluble materials.
Minor element sources
An insoluble source which now looks quite promising is known as
"fritted trace elements", (FTE), in which the various elements are
embodied in a glass matrix. This material releases its nutrient elements
slowly in the soil in sufficient quantity to meet plant needs.
Significant crop responses to applications of FTE have been reported
by the Ohio, South Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, and other stations.
In none of these experiments were deficiency syptoms evident in the
untreated plots, indicating that plants may respond to trace elements
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United States. Office of Experiment Stations. Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1953, book, 1953; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5989/m1/59/: accessed January 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.