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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Dietary Prevention of Obesity-related Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #289773

Title: History of zinc in agriculture

item NIELSEN, FORREST - Former ARS Employee

Submitted to: Advances in Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2012
Publication Date: 11/27/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Nielsen, F.H. 2012. History of zinc in agriculture. Advances in Nutrition. 3:783-789.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Zinc was established as essential for green plants in 1926 and for mammals in 1934. However, over 20 years would past before the first descriptions of zinc deficiencies in farm animals appeared. In 1955, it was reported that zinc supplementation would cure a parakeratosis in swine. In 1958, it was reported that zinc deficiency induced poor growth, leg abnormalities, poor feathering and parakeratosis in chicks. In the1960s, zinc supplementation was found to alleviate parakeratosis in grazing cattle and sheep. Within 35 years, it was established that nearly one-half of the soils in the world may be zinc-deficient; causing decreased plant zinc content and production that can be prevented by zinc fertilization. In many of these areas, zinc deficiency is prevented in grazing livestock by zinc fertilization of pastures or by providing salt licks. For livestock under more defined conditions, such as poultry, swine, and dairy and finishing cattle, feeds are easily supplemented with zinc salts to prevent deficiency. Today, the causes and consequences of zinc deficiency, and methods and impacts of overcoming the deficiency, are well established for agriculture. The history of agriculture is an outstanding demonstration of the translation of research into practical application.