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How can an iron deficiency in plants be prevented?


Written by Han van der Kooij | Last update: 20 december 2019 

The micro nutrient iron (Fe) is essential for every plant. Iron is used in the process of photosynthesis to form its chloroplasts and is needed for the development of the root’s growth points. Unfortunately, several risks are brought along by the nutrient iron. The intake of iron is not always ensured, since it is likely to precipitate. Therefore, monitoring if the plant’s intake of iron is sufficient, is urged by specialists. In this article, some tips to prevent an iron deficiency in the plant are given by our fertilizer specialist. 

Causes iron deficiency

An iron deficiency emerges relatively easy, since iron is proven not to be stable in the root environment or when dissolved in a fertilizer tank. The stability of iron is completely dependent on the pH range in the soil, substrate or water in which it is added. When an incorrect or unsuitable type of iron is added to the plant, it is very likely to precipitate. 

When pH ranges rise above a pH range of 6.5, iron deficiencies often occur. In addition, iron deficiencies are seen in cultivations with a high concentration of  calcium or phosphate. The intake of iron can be obstructed by excess amounts of copper, manganese, magnesium or zinc, which could lead to an iron deficiency. Moreover, factors such as the root temperature and the level of humidity are considered to play a role.

Lastly, iron chelates are broken off by UV light, since all organic parts are ‘killed’ by this type of light.

Results iron deficiency

A lack of iron can be recognized when the plant’s young leafs turn light green, yellow or even white . Also, leafs could die. When iron is lacked, the plant can stay behind in terms of root development or overall growth. 

Symptoms iron deficiency

  • Discoloration (light green, yellow or white) of young leafs between the nerves
  • Slow growth or stop in growth 
  • Dying of leafs
Iron and magnesium deficiencies are often confused, since the symptoms are very much alike. Nevertheless, the lack of iron can be recognized in higher parts of the plant.

Prevent iron deficiency

An iron deficiency is unfavorable and therefore undesired. Fortunately, preventive measures can be taken in order to prevent a plant from developing this deficiency. 

Making use of an iron chelate is crucial. Chelates can be explained as organic elements, that hold a nutrient, in this case iron, like a claw. The iron being and remaining stable in the fertilizer tank and root environment, are seen as a result. The intake of iron is made easier by making use of chelates. 

Besides using chelates, other factors should always be taken into account to optimize the plant’s intake of iron. Closing the lid is considered an important point of interest when preparing the fertilizer tank, so that the negative effects of UV light on iron are prevented. 

Lastly, the pH range should always be taken into account. Especially when not making use of an iron chelate. Not only the pH range in the water is important, also the pH range in the root environment can affect the iron. 

Excess amount of iron

In this article iron deficiencies in plants have been explained by our fertilizer specialists. Excess amounts of iron can also occur in plants, however it is not likely to happen. The intake of manganese can be obstructed by too much iron. 

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More information about iron deficiency

Do you have any questions about iron deficiencies, surplusses, or would you like customized advice? Then contact one of our fertilizer product specialists, or ask your question using the form below. We will then contact you as soon as possible, even within 24 hours on working days.

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Han van der KooijAbout Han van der Kooij

Han van der Kooij, fertiliser product specialist at Royal Brinkman, understands the customer like no one else. After being a grower himself, for 26 years, he knows the ropes and is aware of what is involved in being a grower. Converting his own knowledge and experience into recommendations that are useful to growers, is what he likes best about his job. "Finding that this leads to good results, makes me quite satisfied."

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