Impact of fertilizers with special reference to micronutrients on environment pertaining to human and animal health

Fertilizers are an indispensable agri-input and are added to aid and increase the supply of essential nutrients required for growth and development of plants. There are 16 nutrient elements required to grow crops. Three essential nutrients - carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O2) - are taken up from atmospheric carbon dioxide and water. The other 13 nutrients are taken up from the soil and are usually grouped as primary nutrients, secondary nutrients, and micronutrients.

The primary nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Primary nutrients are utilized in the largest amounts by crops, and therefore, are applied at higher rates than secondary nutrients and micronutrients. The secondary nutrients - calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulphur (S) - are required in smaller amounts than the primary nutrients, although there are opinions that S may be a major nutrient in some cases. Micronutrients - iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), and molybdenum (Mo), selenium (Se) - are required in even smaller amounts than secondary nutrients. They are available as manganese, zinc and copper sulphates, oxides, oxy-sulphates and chelates, as well as in boric acid and ammonium molybdate.

Entire focus on use of fertilizers have been almost exclusively on NPK since their "discovery" in the mid-1800s. Owing to the role of these primary nutrients in the crop cycle, they have been overused to increase the production without realizing the long-term effects on the soil and environment. Thus, the negative impact of fertilizers has often been highlighted. But as the fertilizers are required for proper growth of plants, and plants are the primary source of food for human and animal consumption, the former does have an impact on human and animal health as well.

Impact of micronutrients on human health

As seen in the case of micronutrients, mineral elements like Zn, Fe and Cu are as important as compounds like carbohydrates, fats, protein and vitamins for human development. Micronutrient deficiencies in soils limit crop yields and nutritional quality, which in turn negatively affect human health (Marschner, 2012; Alloway, 2009) Micronutrient intake less than the recommended values can cause slower physiological processes. High consumption of cereal-based foods with low contents of micronutrients is causing health hazards in humans (Imtiaz et al., 2010).

Micronutrient malnutrition, the so-called hidden hunger, affects more than one-half of the world's population, especially women and preschool children in developing countries (Welch and Graham, 2004). Worldwide over 2 billion people suffer from iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and/or other (multiple) micronutrient deficiencies (WHO, 2016; Black, 2003). The problem is most severe in low and middle-income countries (Muthayya et al., 2013). The physiological impacts of micronutrients are complex, relating to many bodily functions. Even mild to moderate deficiencies of micronutrients can lead to severe health problems.

Selenium: Selenium has important antioxidant, anti-cancer and antiviral properties and its deficiency makes human prone to thyroid dysfunction, cancer, severe viral disease and various inflammatory conditions (Lyons et al., 2004).

Zinc and Iron: Iron deficiency is the prominent cause of anaemia which contributes to compromised physical productivity, cognitive impairment and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Likewise, Zn deficiency has been related to growth failure, decreased immunity leading to increased susceptibility to infection, morbidity and mortality due to diarrheal disease, and the incidence of respiratory tract pneumonia (Etcheverry et al., 2005), impaired growth and development of infants, children and adolescents, as well as impaired maternal health and pregnancy outcome (Martin, 2004).

Trials conducted in several countries indicate that duration and severity of major baby-killers such as diarrhoea and pneumonia can be reduced by 30-50 % by supplying adequate amounts of vitamin A and zinc (Bhargava et al., 2001). In developing countries, zinc deficiency ranks 5th among the leading 10 risk factors. Even on a global scale, taking developed and developing countries together, zinc deficiency ranks 11th out of the 20 leading risk factors. WHO attributes 800,000 deaths worldwide each year to zinc deficiency and over 28 million healthy life years lost. It is estimated that zinc deficiency affects one-third of the world’s population, with estimates ranging from 4 to 73% according to regions, and it is 5th leading risk factor along with the Fe deficiency, the latter is at 6th position globally.

Impact of micronutrients on animal health

In animals, micronutrients are required in the diet for their overall improved health and also essential for the production of egg, meat and milk. The importance of micronutrients can be very well realized by the fact that their deficiencies in animal diet can lead to restricted growth and reduction in animal productivity. Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Mo, Se, I and Co are the essential elements which play pivotal role in animal health and each element play at least a major role in physiological functioning of animal (Table 1).

Element Role Deficiency symptom / Diseases
Fe Protein and enzyme function. Blood haemoglobin. Anemia
Cu Haemoglobin formation, enzyme function, and pigments Anaemia, poor growth, bone disorders, infertility, brain and spinal cord lesions. Decolouration of hair.
Co Vitamin B12 function and energy assimilation. Poor growth, anaemia, loss of coat, low immunity to disease, infertility
Se Vitamin E function Poor growth, white muscle disease, infertility
I Thyroid gland function Goitre and reproductive failure
Mn Enzyme activation Enzyme activation
Zn Enzyme function Stiff and swollen joints, parakeratosis.
B Enzyme function Weak bones, poor immune function
It is imperative to have a balanced and holistic approach to overcome micronutrient deficiencies in practical farm situations as mentioned by Fischer (2008).

  • Treating the soil with fertilizers and nutrients particularly in which the soil and animal is likely to be deficient.
  • Treating the fodder or herbage with micronutrients through foliar spray.
  • Treating the animals by feeding him with feeding blocks and licks.
  • Supplementation of micronutrients through feed.
  • Directly injecting the animals with nutrients.

TRIAL REPORT- To study the efect of “ Fertisol super “ on growth and yield of chilli (Capsicum annuum L)

Trial conducted at National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation,Nashik

Chilli (Capsicum annum L) is a very important solanacious vegetable crop and grown all over the country. Micronutrients are essential for plant growth and also for human health. The micronutrients enhance the quality and yield of horticulture crops and in securing nutritional security. They are required in relatively small amounts. Imbalances in micronutrient management may lead to reduced yield and poor crop quality.

“Fertisol Super”, a fine product which claims to play an important role in improving the vigour of plants as well as increase the yield. It increases the plant metabolic activities such as increasing tolerance, recovery from abiotic stresses,facilitating effective utilization of the nutrients and enhancing quality attribute of the produce.

This study was carried out at Regional Research Station of National Horticultural Research and development Foundation Nashik, Maharashtra.

Materials and Methods

  • Variety : Teja (Hybrid Variety)
  • Plot size : 6.0m X 1.0 m at 75 cm X 60 cm spacing
  • Experimental Design :Randomized Block Design
  • Replications : 3
  • Treatments : 9
  • Soil Type: Clay loam; pH = 7.16
  • Application Method: Drip/drenching and foliar
  • Recommended package of practices was followed for raising the crop.
  • The observations were recorded on plant vigour rating (1-9) at 60 days after transplanting, height of plant at 60 DAT, days to 50% flowering, days to first picking, length of fruit (cm), number of fruit per plant, number of picking, 10 fruit weight (kg), shelf life in ambient condition and total yield(q/ha).
Treatments % Plant establishment Plant vigour at 60 DAP Plant height (cm) at 60 DAP Days to 50% flowering Number of fruit/plant 10 fruit weight (g) Fruit length (cm) Total Yield (q/ha)
T1 93.33 7.00 69.13 51 319.94 30.00 11.13 189.94
T2 95.00 6.67 67.93 48 360.01 34.00 13.63 193.15
T3 91.67 7.67 73.80 49 344.01 30.00 12.24 186.65
T4 91.67 6.67 68.07 49 368.49 30.33 11.45 188.19
T5 90.00 8.00 72.13 49 373.27 29.67 11.91 191.77
T6 88.33 7.33 70.33 49 316.11 27.67 11.85 158.17
T7 93.33 8.33 79.07 49 394.62 37.00 13.87 220.11
T8 90.00 8.00 78.60 49 363.15 32.67 12.31 183.97
T9 90.00 6.67 65.87 52 289.87 28.67 10.95 142.11
SEm+ 3.56 0.49 1.85 - 28.94 1.18 0.43 17.99
CD at 5% NS 1.04 3.92 - 61.35 2.50 0.91 38.14
CV % 4.76 8.10 3.16 - 10.19 4.64 4.31 11.99
Observation:- Study the effect of “ Fertisol Super”on growth and yield of chilli at RRS,Nashik during Rabi,2016-2017
  Treatment details
T1 Application of Fertisol super @ 3 kg/acre through drip/drenching on 25th DAT
T2 Application of Fertisol super @  5 kg/acre through drip/drenching on 45th DAT
T3 Foliar application of Fertisol super @5 gm/lit of water on 25th DAT
T4 Foliar application of Fertisol super @5 gm/lit of water on 45th DAT
T5 Applicationof Fertisol super @3 kg/ acre though drip/drenching  5 gm/ lit of water for spray on 25th DAT
T6 Applicationof Fertisol super @5 kg/ acre though drip/drenching  5 gm/ lit of water for spray on 45th DAT
T7 Applicationof Fertisol super @3 kg/ acreon 25th DAT & 5 kg/acre on 45th DAT through drip/drenching
T8 Applicationof Fertisol super @5 gm/lit of water foliar application on 25th &45th DAT
T9 Control


  • Highest Plant vigour (8.33) and plant height (79.07 cm) at 60 days was recorded in T7
  • Minimum days (48) were taken for 50% flowering in T2
  • The highest number of fruits per plant (394.62), 10n fruits weight ( 37 gms) and fruit length (13.87 cm) were recorded in T7.
  • Highest Gross Yield ( 220.11 q/ha) was recorded in T7.
  • Phytotoxicity was not observed in any Treatment.


The Study conducted at RRS Nashik during Rabi 2016-2017 on chilli hybrid variety Teja, revealed that all the treatment perfomed superior over control, however, the treatment T7 ( Application of fertisol super @3 kg/acre on 25th DAT & 5 kg/acre on 45th DAT through drip/drenching) recorded highest gross yield (220.11 q/ha).