Selenium is a mineral that is an essential nutrient for both humans and animals, despite having similarities to arsenic. However, despite being so important for both humans and animals, it is not essential to plants, but some plants do benefit from its properties. Just like arsenic is fatal in larger doses in humans, selenium is also detrimental to humans, animals and plants when ingested or present in the soil in excess. Typically found in more acidic soils in high rainfall areas, selenium occurs naturally, but this does not mean it cannot reach toxic levels.
If your plants are struggling and your soil has a selenium concentration that is higher than 200 mg/kg, you need to do a little bit of research and find out why the levels are so high. You can have plant tissue from edible plants analysed, or you can have the soil tested, and it is advisable to hold off on eating any produce that you’ve grown until you know what the levels are, and if they have been elevated.
Signs of selenium toxicity
Plants have become something of a hot new trend in recent years and it is no longer just the older generation that enjoys gardening. Looking after houseplants or gardens is a challenge, and if you know what to look out for when it comes to selenium toxicity, you can act fast and save any plants that may be affected.
A plant that is suffering from high levels of selenium may die off earlier than usual, or have dry, withered leaves or exhibit signs of chlorosis. If only a few houseplants are affected, these are easy to treat, but if large sections of a garden are showing these signs, you may need to call on a soil remediation company like https://soilfix.co.uk/services/groundwater-soil-remediation-services to reduce levels until they are non-toxic.
Potential selenium toxicity causes
While remedying toxicity levels may be relatively simple, you’ll need to get to the root of the problem so they don’t rise again. A professional opinion may be required here, but you can also keep an eye out for water runoff from industrial areas, or from areas that are chemically treated for pests.
You may find the increased levels occur naturally, and in this case, you’ll simply need to select plants that have a better resilience to the toxicity.