Edward Borowski

University of Life Sciences in Lublin

Sławomir Michałek

University of Life Sciences in Lublin


Iron chlorosis is a wide-spread limiting factor of production in agriculture. Fe deficiencies is done mainly by foliar sprays because soil application generally are ineffective, especially for annual crops. A pot experiment, conducted in a phytotron, investigated the effectiveness of foliar fertilization of French bean with 3 inorganic iron salts [FeSO4 · 7H2O, FeCl3 · 6H2O, Fe(NO3)3 · 9H2O] and 2 organic iron salts [Fe-Citr., Fe-EDTA], applied with and without the addition of 0.5% CO(NH2)2. Iron was applied 3 times only on simple leaves in the form of aqueous solutions containing 0.2 mg Fe in 1 cm3, compared to water as the control treatment. The obtained results show that the application of iron salt solutions resulted in a distinct increase of Fe content in simple leaves and in the next trifoliate leaves. Foliar fertilization of the plants with Fe(NO3)3 was the most effective, while feeding with Fe-EDTA was the least effective. Iron given in the form of chelates showed greater mobility in the plants than that applied in the form of inorganic salts. Foliar fertilization of the plants with inorganic iron salts significantly increased
chlorophyll a+b and carotenoid content in the leaves as well as their stomatal conductance and the photosynthesis and transpiration rates. But the impact of Fe chelates, in particular Fe-EDTA, on the abovementioned plant traits was not clear. The leaves of the plants treated with Fe(NO3)3 showed the highest content of photosynthetic pigments and the most intense gas exchange. The application of inorganic iron salts and Fe-Citr. resulted in a significant increase in the number of nodules formed on the bean roots and their weight. The plants treated with Fe-Citr. produced the largest number of nodules, while those treated with Fe(NO3)3 developed nodules with the highest weight. The addition of urea to the iron solutions had an effect on the increase in the value of the iron transport rate and on the decrease in iron and carotenoid content, the leaf gas exchange rate as well as the number of root nodules and their weight.


foliar nutrition, iron chelates, inorganic iron, gas exchange, chlorophyll, nodules

Abadia J., Alvarez-Fernandez A., Morales F., Sanz M., Abadia A., 2002. Correction of iron chlorosis by foliar sprays. Acta Hort. 594, 115–121.
Arnon D.J., 1949. Cooper enzymes in isolated chloroplasts: Polyphenoloxidase in Beta vulgaris. Plant Physiol. 24, 1–15.
Baligar V.C., Schaffert R.E., Dos Santos H.L., Pitta G.V.E., Bahia Filho A.F.C., 1993. Growth and nutrient uptake parameters in sorghum as influenced by aluminium. Agron. J. 85, 1068–1074.
Borowski E., Michałek S., 2008. The effect of nitrogen and air temperature during foliar fertilization on gas exchange, the yield and nutritive value of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). Folia Hort. 20(2), 17–27.
Borowski E., Michałek S., 2010. The effect of foliar nutrition of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) with magnesium salts and urea on gas exchange, leaf yield and quality. Acta Agrobot. 63(1), 77–85.
Britton G., 1985. General carotenoid methods. Methods Enzymol. 111, 113–114.
Brüggemann W., Maas-Kantel K., Moog P.R., 1993. Iron uptake by leaf mesophyll cells: The role of the plasma membrane-bound ferric-chelate reductase. Planta 190, 151–155.
Fernandez V., Ebert G., 2005. Foliar iron fertilization – a critical review. J. Plant Nutr. 28, 2113–2124.
Fernandez V., Del Rio V., Abadia J., Abadia. A., 2006. Foliar iron fertilization of peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch): Effects of iron compounds, surfactants and other adjuvants. Plant Soil 289, 239–252.
Kannan S., Wittwer S.H., 1965. Effects of chelation and urea on iron absorption by intact leaves and enzymically isolated leaf cells. Plant Physiol. 40, 12–18.
Larbi A., Abadía A., Abadía J., Morales F., 2006. Down co-regulation of light absorption, photochemistry and carboxylation in Fe-deficient plants growing in different environments. Photosynth. Res. 89, 113–126.
Rombola A. D., Brüggemann W., Tagliavini M., Marangoni B., Moog P. R., 2000. Iron source affects reduction and re-greening of kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) leaves. J. Plant Nutr. 23, 1751–1765.
Reed D., Lyons C., Eachern G.M., 1988. Field evaluation of inorganic and chelated iron fertilizers as foliar sprays and soil application. J. Plant Nutr. 11, 1369–1378.
Schőnherr J., Fernandez V., Schreiber L., 2005. Rates of cuticular penetration of chelated FeIII: Role of humidity, concentration, adjuvants, temperature and type of chelate. J. Agric. Food Chem. (53), 4484–4492.
Terry N., 1980. Limiting factors in photosynthesis. I. Use of iron stress to control photochemical capacity in vivo. Plant Physiol. 65, 114–120.
Tyksiński W., Komosa A., 2008. After effect of iron chelates on the yielding and iron content in greenhouse lettuce. Acta Sci. Pol., Hortorum Cultus 7(2), 3–10.
Wittwer, S.H., Bukovac M.J., Jyung W.H., Yamada Y., De R., Rasmussen H.P., Haile Mariam S.N., Kannan S., 1967. Foliar absorption - penetration of the cuticular membrane and nutrient uptake by isolated leaf cells. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 14, 105–120.


Edward Borowski 
University of Life Sciences in Lublin
Sławomir Michałek 
University of Life Sciences in Lublin



Articles are made available under the conditions CC BY 4.0 (until 2020 under the conditions CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).
Submission of the paper implies that it has not been published previously, that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere.

The author signs a statement of the originality of the work, the contribution of individuals, and source of funding.


Most read articles by the same author(s)