Soluble selenium content of agricultural soils in Japan and its determining factors with reference to soil type, land use and region

To evaluate labile selenium (Se) content in agricultural soils in Japan and to investigate its determining factors, 178 soil samples were collected from the surface layer of paddy or upland fields in Japan and their soluble Se contents were determined. Two grams of soil was extracted with 20 mL of 0.1 mol L−1 sodium sulfate (Na2SO4) solution for 30 min in boiling water, and the released Se was reduced to Se (IV) after organic matter decomposition. The concentration of Se (IV) was then determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with a fluorescence detector after treatment with 2,3-diaminonaphthalene (DAN) and extraction with cyclohexane. Soluble Se content ranged from 2.5 to 44.5 μg kg−1 with geometric and arithmetic means of 11.4 and 12.8 μg kg−1, respectively, and corresponded to 3.2% of the total Se on average. The overall data showed log-normal distribution. In terms of soil type, Non-allophanic Andosols and Volcanogenous Regosols had relatively high soluble Se content, and Wet Andosols and Lowland Paddy soils had relatively low soluble Se content. In terms of land use, upland soils had significantly higher soluble Se content than paddy soils (p < 0.01). The soluble Se content had significant positive correlation with total organic carbon (TOC) content of the extract, soil pH and total Se content (p < 0.01). In conclusion, total Se content in combination with soil pH was the main determining factor of the soluble Se content of agricultural soils in Japan.