Effects of Nutrient Antagonism and Synergism on Yield and Fertilizer Use Efficiency

René P.J.J. Rietra*, Marius Heinen, Chistian O. Dimkpa, Prem S. Bindraban

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


Interaction among plant nutrients can yield antagonistic or synergistic outcomes that influence nutrient use efficiency. To provide insight on this phenomenon, peer-reviewed articles were selected that quantified the interaction effects of nutrients on crop yield levels. In total 94 articles were selected that described 117 interactions between all macro- and micronutrients for different agricultural crops. In 43 cases the interaction was synergistic, in 17 cases the interaction was antagonistic, and in 35 cases the interaction was zero-interaction; the other 23 cases were non-significant (16) or showed a negative response (7). Generally: (a) when the availability of two nutrients is characterized as deficient, a large increase in yield can be expected by diminishing these deficiencies: (b) for most macronutrients the mutual interactions on yield levels are synergistic; and (c) antagonistic effects on yield are often found for divalent cations. Knowledge of nutrient interactions can guide fertilizer design and optimization of fertilization strategies for high yields and high nutrient use efficiencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1895-1920
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2017


  • Antagonism
  • fertilizer
  • macronutrients
  • micronutrients
  • synergism


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