Improving tropical nickel agromining crop systems: the effects of chemical and organic fertilisation on nickel yield

Romane Tisserand, Antony van der Ent, Philip Nti Nkrumah, Sukaibin Sumail, Guillaume Echevarria*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Aims The agronomy of tropical ‘metal crops’ had not yet been tested until a recent pot trial was undertaken to test the growth and nickel (Ni) yield of two promising Ni ‘metal crops’ (Phyllanthus rufuschaneyi and Rinorea cf. bengalensis) from Sabah, Malaysia. The present study investigates the growth and Ni yield in P. rufuschaneyi in response to inorganic and organic fertilisation under field conditions. Methods: A two-year field experiment was undertaken on an ultramafic Cambisol in Sabah. Two experiments were set up with different types of fertilisers, either organic or inorganic. Ten 9-m2 plots were amended with either NPK (370 kg ha−1) or N (120 kg ha−1) fertilisation and were monitored during the first year. Another experiment with 25-m2 plots was set up to test three treatments of organic amendment (0, 1 or 2 kg m−2 of shredded P. rufuschaneyi biomass). Results: The results show that despite considerable variability, Ni concentration was generally lower in plant shoots amended with N only (i.e. urea). However, treatments showed no statistical effect on plant biomass and Ni yield in the short-term, even though organic treatments had a strong positive effect on the availability of Ni. Conclusion: The short-term effects of inorganic and organic treatments on Ni yield of the tropical ‘metal crop’ Phyllanthus rufuschaneyi were not apparent (75 kg Ni ha−1 yr−1). The field trials are ongoing to assess long-term effects. The preliminary results suggest that with appropriate agronomic systems and plant breeding, the Ni yield could be substantially increased.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online dateAug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Agromining
  • Fertilisation
  • Hyperaccumulator
  • Nickel
  • Ultramafic


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