Linhares, D., Pimentel, A., Garcia, P.V. & Rodrigues, A. (2021) Deficiency of essential elements in volcanic soils: potential harmful health effects on grazing cattle.Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 43, 3883-3895. DOI:10.1007/s10653-021-00874-6 (IF2020 4,609; Q1 Water Resources)
Several essential nutrients such as Fe, Co, Cu, I, Se, and Zn are vital to grazing cattle as they play a significant role in intracellular enzyme systems, with antioxidant and repair functions of DNA lesions. Feeds may supply most essential nutrients in adequate amounts. However, essential nutrient deficiencies are common and are mainly related to the geochemical characteristics of the soils, inherited from parent rocks. This study aims to assess the concentrations of the selected essential nutrients in topsoils and pasture grass from São Miguel Island (Azores) and discuss the possible effects of its deficiency in grazing cattle health. Sixty-eight samples of agricultural (pastures) topsoil and thirty samples of pasture grass were collected throughout São Miguel Island in areas with basaltic and trachytic parent rocks. Soil physicochemical properties and geochemical baselines of selected elements were determined on composite samples of soil and pasture grass in each site. Results indicate that the highest concentrations of the selected essential nutrients were observed in areas with basaltic soils, while the lowest values were found in areas with trachytic soils. These differences are considered of geogenic origin since they result from the weathering of volcanic parent rocks with different geochemical compositions. Data indicate a lack of some essential nutrients in topsoils (Co and Se) and/or pasture grass (Co, Cu, Se, and Zn) that can contribute to harmful health effects on grazing cattle. The uneven distribution of essential nutrients in topsoil and pasture grass and their deficiency can lead to several health problems in the cattle since these elements regulate physiological functions in biological systems. The identification of these deficit sites is important as it can help farmers to implement soil and/or animal supplementation programs to diminish possible health problems.