Iron (Fe)

  • iron is one of the 13 essential elements for plant growth, and is considered a micronutrient based on the concentration required for plant growth
  • principle form of uptake: ionic forms (Fe2+, Fe3+)
  • amount required for healthy plant growth: 100 ppm, dry soil matter
  • soil conditions related to iron deficiencies:
    • calcareous soils with low soluble iron
    • waterlogged soil
    • acid soil with excessive levels of manganese, zinc, copper and nitrogen
    • sandy soils low in total iron
    • peat & muck soils
  • iron moves through soil primarily by diffusion
  • soil factors that affect iron uptake by plants:
    • soil test levels (available iron in soil)
    • decomposition of organic matter
    • low pH (acidic) increases plant uptake of iron
    • high pH (basic) decreases plant uptake
  • plant factors that affect iron uptake by plant:
    • hybrid or variety of plant
    • stage of growth
    • interactions with other elements
      • Zinc: excess zinc can induce an iron deficiency, particularly in those plants sensitive to iron

Roles of Iron in Plant Functions

  • important component of many enzyme systems
  • required component for NO3 (nitrate) and SO4 (sulfate) reduction
  • required component for N2 assimilation and energy (NADP) production
  • functions as a catalyst for chlorophyll production
  • thought to be involved in root-tip meristem growth
  • the plant and soil chemistry that involves iron is very complex and is still under intensive study

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