2006 A fertilizer for alleviation of nickel deficiencies Southeast

The existence of real-world nickel deficiency in agricultural crops was discovered by Dr. Bruce W. Wood of the South Atlantic Area’s Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory. Other scientists had earlier demonstrated that nickel is an essential plant pico-nutrient. However, nickel was thought not to be of practical concern to farmers or gardeners be-cause of the minute amounts thought to be needed by plants and the abundance of nickel in most soils. Thus, nickel has been largely ignored by agricultural scientists, farmers, and gardeners.While nickel deficiency naturally occurs in cer-tain soil situations, the most severe forms typi-cally arise due to excessive use of other fertil-izer elements, such as zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. The discov-ery has led to the identification of symptoms for diagnosis of nickel deficiency in crops and the discovery of deficiency in several other crops. A cooperative interaction was initiated to jointly develop a commercial nickel fertilizer product called Nickel Plus™; and a new company, NI-PAN, LLC, was formed. NIPAN, the co-owner of the patent, is negotiating an exclusive license to ARS’s interest in the technology for correct-ing nickel deficiency in plants.The new Nickel Plus™ associated technology is now being used in eight states, with others likely to follow suit. The technology has cured mouse-ear and little-leaf disorders in pecan and river birch, and is conferring disease resis-tance in day lilies, having a beneficial impact of millions of dollars. As news of the technology spreads, it is expected that plant producers will discover deficiency-associated problems in a multitude of major and minor crops worldwide, impacting the yields, quality, and profitability of many crops. Additionally, evidence indicates that improving nickel nutrition may also improve environmental quality in that it is likely to reduce the use of fungicides and nitrogen fertilizers for certain crops. The technology not only prom-ises to stimulate increased scientific interest in nickel and to solve challenging crop problems that have heretofore defied solution, but also opens a new frontier for the use of other nickel-associated technologies.
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