Chapter 16 - Nutrients: a sparse resource

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A demonstration of genetic differences between two varieties of 2-row barley (Hordeum distichon) in their tolerance to a manganese-deficient soil near Warooka, South Australia. Overall crop response to a foliar spray equivalent to 6 kg manganese per hectare is evident in shoot growth (middle background behind arrow). While unsprayed plots in the foreground are less productive, the cultivar Weeah (left-side) tolerates this low-manganese soil better than Clipper (right side) (Photograph courtesy R.J. Hannam, South Australian Department of Agriculture)

There is a need to optimise the productivity of infertile and problem soils in order to meet increasing world-wide demand for agricultural and forestry products and we now recognise the increasingly important role of selection and breeding of plants specifically for such soils. Plant breeding solutions will complement agronomic methods to chieve these objectives in a manner which is both economically sound and ecologically responsible. (Randall 1993; italics added)