Setting good practices to assess the efficiency of iron fertilizers

Plant Physiol Biochem. 2011 May;49(5):483-8. doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2011.02.013. Epub 2011 Feb 24.


The most prevalent nutritional disorder in fruit tree crops growing in calcareous soils is Fe deficiency chlorosis. Iron-deficient, chlorotic tree orchards require Fe-fertilization, since chlorosis causes decreases in tree vegetative growth as well as fruit yield and quality losses. When assessing the effectiveness of Fe-fertilizers, it is necessary to use sound practices based in the state-of-the art knowledge on the physiology and biochemistry of Fe deficiency. This review provides an overview on how to carry out the assessment of the efficiency of Fe-fertilizers, discussing common errors found in the literature, outlining adequate procedures and giving real examples of practical studies carried out in our laboratory in the past decade. The review focuses on: i) the design of Fe-fertilization experiments, discussing several issues such as the convenience of using controlled conditions or field experiments, whether fertilizer assessment experiments should mimic usual fertilization practices, as well as aspects regarding product formulations, dosages, control references and number of replicates; ii) the assessment of chlorosis recovery upon Fe-fertilization by monitoring leaf chlorophyll, and iii) the analysis of the plant responses upon Fe-fertilization, discussing the phases of leaf chlorosis recovery and the control of other leaf nutritional parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beta vulgaris / metabolism
  • Beta vulgaris / physiology
  • Chlorophyll / analysis*
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism*
  • Crops, Agricultural / physiology
  • Ethylenediamines / metabolism
  • Fertilizers*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Plant Diseases / prevention & control
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / physiology
  • Prunus / metabolism
  • Prunus / physiology
  • Soil / chemistry


  • Ethylenediamines
  • Fertilizers
  • Soil
  • ethylenediamine-N,N'-bis(2-hydroxyphenylacetic acid)
  • Chlorophyll
  • Iron