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Iron chelate

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Title: Iron chelate  
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Subject: Blackcurrant, Chlorosis, Iron fertilization, Gardenia jasminoides
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Iron chelate

Iron chelate, also known as chelated iron, is a soluble complex of iron, sodium and a chelating agent such as ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA), EDDHA, or others, used to make the iron soluble in water and, for the purposes of agriculture, accessible to plants.

It is encountered as a dark brownish powder, and can be a mild irritant to the skin, respiratory membranes or eyes.


Iron chelate is commonly used for agricultural purposes to treat chlorosis, a condition in which leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll. In Horticulture, Iron chelate is often referred to as 'sequestered iron' and is used as a plant tonic, often mixed with other nutrients and plant foods (e.g. seaweeed). It is recommended in ornamental horticulture for feeding ericaceous plants like Rhododendrons if they are growing in calcareous soils. The Sequestered iron is available to the ericaceous plants, without adjusting the soil's pH, and thus lime-induced chlorosis is prevented.

Iron chelate has also been used as a bait in the chemical control of slugs, snails and slaters in agriculture in Australia and New Zealand. They have advantages over other more generally poisonous substances used in that their toxicity is more specific to molluscs.[1]

Iron chelate, commonly present as FeEDTA(Ferric Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid), is also used to control broadleaf weeds in lawns. It is not very effective (comparable to historical chemicals such as 2,4-D) but can be a green alternative. There are a few weeds that are not damaged by FeEDTA and users will likely need a traditional herbicide to accomplish the task.

Since the 1970s, iron chelation therapy with a similar agent, deferoxamine, has been used as an alternative to regular phlebotomy to treat excess iron stores in people with haemochromatosis.[2]


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