"Food with low levels of minerals can cause serious health problems, especially for people in developing countries," says doctorate student Djordje Grujcic at NMBU.
He also says that mineral deficiencies have a negative effect on livestock production. Grujcic has researched methods for increasing the concentration and availability of zinc and iron in maize used as silage feed or as a grain component in animal feed.
Maize is important feed
In addition to being an important agricultural product, maize is the most important component of livestock feed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"However, maize is very vulnerable to lack of micronutrients, especially zinc and iron," Grujcic says.
Fertilization of food and feed crops is considered one of the most important strategies for improving the concentration of micronutrients and thus the nutritional quality of animal feed.
Mineral deficient soils
Concentration and availability of nutrients in the soil in Bosnia and Herzegovina vary greatly.
Grujcic has also tested soil samples from 28 farms for available micronutrients.
"The results indicated a general phosphorus deficiency throughout the region," he says.
“Some areas also lacked zinc and selenium.”
"My results indicate that fertilizer with nitrogen increases the availability of zinc and iron in silage," he says.
Grujcic's experiments show that fertilizer with nitrogen, zinc and iron can have a positive effect on the production of ensilaged corn. Fertilization also affects the chemical states of zinc and iron, and increases the concentration of these micronutrients in ensilaged corn and their potential availability in feed for dairy cows.