Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1953 Page: 63
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SOIL SCIENCE AND PLANT NUTRITION 63
Although nickel has not been established as being necessary for
plant growth, several instances of response to nickel have been reported.
The importance of this element at present, however, lies
more in the possibility that it may have toxic effects on certain soils.
The Hawaiian station found that the 10 Great Soil Groups in the
Islands ranged in total nickel content from 98 to 661 p. p. m., whereas
exchangeable nickel ranged from 0.31 to 2.56 p. p. m. Plants varied
from 0.83 to 22.8 p. p. m. in nickel content, most of them falling between
2 and 5 p. p. m. Tomatoes in nutrient solution developed toxic
symptoms with 1.0 p. p. m. or more of nickel. Plants injured by excess
nickel contained over 50 p. p. m. of the element. Toxic effects
were also obtained by adding nickel to soils to get amounts ranging
from 400 to over 800 p. p. m. The addition of lime to these soils
counteracted the toxic effect of the added nickel, and reduced the
amount of the element taken up by plants.
Studies by the New Jersey station revealed that soils in that State
contained from 8 to 22 p. p. m. of nickel. Plant starvation symptoms
induced by a deficient supply of copper, manganese, zinc, or iron, could
not be corrected by nickel, nor could this element be established as
necessary for normal plant growth. The severity of nickel toxicity
in tomatoes could be reduced by adding 1 p. p. m of iron, but a like
amount of copper or manganese or 5 p. p. m of iron had no effect.
Crops grown on Coastal Plain soils contained more nickel and copper
than those grown on Appalachian soils. Ragweed and red clover
In other trace element research, the New Jersey station found that
soils contained from 0.2 to 30.8 p. p. m., and crops from 0.01 to 0.32
p. p. m. of cobalt. It was not established that this element is necessary
for plant growth. Cobalt toxicity in alfalfa was partially overcome
by either molybdenum or manganese. Molybdenum deficiency in alfalfa
was overcome by 1 pound of sodium molybdate per acre, which
increased yield from 3 to 6 percent. Many soils in the southern part
of the State were low in exchangeable and easily reducible manganese,
but normal plant growth was obtained by applying 50 pounds of manganese
sulfate per acre. On overlimed soils, manganese deficiency was
corrected by spraying the plants, or by additions to the soil. Manganese
was found to move upward only in plants, so that spraying of
the lower leaves was required to correct the deficiency.
In studies with the peanut plant at the North Carolina station,
it was found that boron had a striking effect upon fruiting. A deficiency
of boron markedly reduced the number of flowers. Although
the deficient plants produced just as many reproductive nodes as the
nondeficient, they produced no pegs whatsoever.
New scientific methods
Techniques were developed at the California station for employing
algae in micro-nutrient research in place of higher plants. Deficiencies
of molybdenum, manganese, and iron were produced in Chlorella
pyrenoidosa grown in a nutrient solution under artificial light. Exposure
of algae to radioactive carbon dioxide offers a means of studying
how trace elements function in green plants, and how their deficiencies
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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/m1/65/: accessed February 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.