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Iron Nutrition in Plants (Part 1)

Share | 2016-04-13 14:57:56 From:topfert Comment:0 Look:1797 [ L M S ]

Iron Availability to Plants

Although most ofthe iron on the earth crust is in the form of Fe3+, the Fe2+ form is physiologically more significant for plants. This form is relatively soluble,but is readily oxidized to Fe3+, which then precipitates.

Fe3+ is insoluble in neutral and high pH, making iron unavailable toplants in alkaline and in calcareous soils. Furthermore, in these types ofsoil, iron readily combines with phosphates, carbonates, calcium, magnesium andhydroxide ions.

Iron Uptake by Plants

Plants uptake ironin its oxidized forms, Fe2+ (ferrous form) or Fe3+ (ferric form).


Plants use variousiron uptake mechanisms. One of these is the chelation mechanism - the plantreleases compounds called siderophores which bind iron and enhance itssolubility. This mechanism also involves bacteria.

Another mechanism involves the release of protons (H+) and reductants by theplant roots, to lower pH levels in root zone. The result is increased ironsolubility.

In this respect, choice of the form of nitrogen fertilizer is significant.Ammonium nitrogen increases proton release by roots, thus lowering pH andfacilitating iron uptake. 

Nitrate nitrogen enhances the release of hydroxide ions that increase pH in theroot zone and counteract efficient iron uptake.


New roots and roothairs are more active in iron uptake, therefore it is imperative to maintain ahealthy active root system. Any factor interfering with root developmentinterferes with iron uptake.



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