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Cadmium concentration in durum wheat grain (Triticum turgidum) as influenced by nitrogen rate, seeding date and soil type

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BACKGROUND: Cadmium (Cd) is a trace element that has been associated with various human health problems. Cd enters plants, either by direct absorption through leaves or by uptake from soils, allowing Cd into the food chain. Nitrogen (N) fertilizer management is important in optimizing crop yield and protein content of durum wheat, but may influence Cd availability and hence Cd concentration in crops, with the effects being strongly influenced by environmental conditions and crop cultivar.

RESULTS: In field studies, Cd and protein concentration in durum wheat grain differed between cultivars and were strongly affected by N application, with only minor effects of N occurring on concentration and uptake of P and Zn. Protein content increased significantly with N application in five of six site‐years, with the response being generally independent of cultivar and seeding data. Cd concentration also increased with N application in five of six seeding dates, with the response being greater in AC Melita than Arcola in three of the six site‐years. There were large differences in Cd concentration from year to year and with seeding date, indicating a strong environmental influence.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that different cultivars accumulate different levels of Cd in the grain and that seeding date and nitrogen fertilizer management can influence grain Cd concentration, with the magnitude of effects varying with environmental factors. In the future we may be able to manipulate management practices to optimize protein concentration and minimize Cd concentration in durum wheat, which could help to address the health and safety concerns of consumers. © Society of Chemical Industry and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada
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Keywords: cadmium; durum wheat; nitrogen; soil; uptake; urea

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 15, 2010

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