Zn deficiency is a hot issue across the globe and has gained significant attention from the scientific community. Zn has important functions for all life forms and it bonds more than 900 proteins in the human body (Oliver and Gregory, 2015). In biological systems, zinc is involved in various critical functions like maintenance of structural and functional integrity of biological membranes, detoxification of reactive oxygen species, protein synthesis, and gene expression (Cakmak, 2000).
Role of Zn for Biological Functions
Zinc also maintains the structural stability of many proteins and transcriptional factors. Under stress conditions, it has an important role in gene regulation and gene expression. Zn is involved in many enzymatic and metabolic reactions which are necessary for plant growth and production (King and Keen, 1999). So an adequate amount of Zn is required for normal functioning.
Zn Deficiency A Global Issue
In recent years zinc deficiency has gained substantial consideration as it is the most serious micronutrient deficiency. Zn deficiency is gaining the consideration of medical scientists and economists. Zn deficiency along with vitamin A deficiency is the topmost global issue. Brain efficiency and development are ominously affected in infants (Benton, 2008). It is a major reason for children’s death across the globe. In South Asia, Zn deficiency is the leading incidence of diseases and deaths in children (Black et al., 2008).
Zn Deficient Soils A Major Reason for Zn Malnutrition
Inherently zinc concentration in cereal crops is very low. So zinc deficiency is most common among those populations who are taking cereal-based diets (Ismail, 2009). Mostly the soils are deficient in plant-available zinc. So the cereals grown on deficient soils cannot uptake zinc from soil and as a result, they are in the category of poor diets. Zn deficiency elimination will result in a good impact on human health and it will also produce economically good returns (Hotz and Brown, 2004).
Micronutrient Fertilization to Reduce Zn Deficiency
The use of micronutrients in soil nutrition is one of the props of agriculture in developed countries. Proper plant nutrition is among the utmost essential factors to improve the quality and quantity of plant products. Zinc is among eight essential trace elements required for the normal growth, survival, and reproduction of crop plants. Scientifically Zn was considered an essential micro-nutrient about 70 years ago and its deficiency in soils has been reported about 20-30 years ago. Under intensive cultivation, zinc depletion is enhanced.
Zn Application for Soil Health and Higher Yields
Achieving greater yields without the application of zinc fertilizers is not conceivable. This worldwide prevalence of Zn deficiency is due to low solubility and bioavailability in soil (Iqbal et al., 2010). Solubility in soils is mainly controlled by chemical speciation which greatly varies with redox potential, pH, soil organic matter contents, and the level of other nutrients in the soil (Zeng et al., 2011). So soil health is much important for supplying the essential amount of mineral nutrients. Moreover, the determination of the percentage of organic matter in soil can also help for nutrient optimization.