Review of Rare Earth Elements as Fertilizers and Feed Additives: A Knowledge Gap Analysis

Tommasi F., Thomas P. J. , Pagano G., Perono G. A. , ORAL R. , Lyons D. M. , ...More

ARCHIVES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND TOXICOLOGY, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00244-020-00773-4


Rare earth elements (REEs) are key constituents of modern technology and play important roles in various chemical and industrial applications. They also are increasingly used in agricultural and zootechnical applications, such as fertilizers and feed additives. Early applications of REEs in agriculture have originated in China over the past several decades with the objective of increasing crop productivity and improving livestock yield (e.g., egg production or piglet growth). Outside China, REE agricultural or zootechnical uses are not currently practiced. A number of peer-reviewed manuscripts have evaluated the adverse and the positive effects of some light REEs (lanthanum and cerium salts) or REE mixtures both in plant growth and in livestock yield. This information was never systematically evaluated from the growing body of scientific literature. The present review was designed to evaluate the available evidence for adverse and/or positive effects of REE exposures in plant and animal biota and the cellular/molecular evidence for the REE-associated effects. The overall information points to shifts from toxic to favorable effects in plant systems at lower REE concentrations (possibly suggesting hormesis). The available evidence for REE use as feed additives may suggest positive outcomes at certain doses but requires further investigations before extending this use for zootechnical purposes.