Plant and Soil

, Volume 289, Issue 1–2, pp 239–252 | Cite as

Foliar Iron Fertilization of Peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch): Effects of Iron Compounds, Surfactants and Other Adjuvants

  • Victoria FernándezEmail author
  • Victor Del Río
  • Javier Abadía
  • Anunciación Abadía
Original Paper


Experiments to assess the capability of different combinations of iron (Fe) compounds and adjuvants to provide Fe via foliar application to Fe-deficient plants have been carried out. A total of 80 formulations containing (1) one of five Fe-compounds [FeSO4·7H2O, Fe(III)-citrate, Fe(III)-Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), Fe(III)-Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA), Fe(III)-Iminodisuccinic acid (IDHA)], (2) a surfactant (Mistol, alkyl-polyglucoside1 or alkyl-polyglucoside2), and (3) an adjuvant (glycerol, methanol or glycine–betaine) were studied with respect to leaf wetting ability and surface tension. From the initial formulations only 26 resulted in adequate leaf wetting, 20 with alkyl-polyglucoside2 and 3 each with Mistol and alkyl-polyglucoside1, and some of them (four with alkyl-polyglucoside2, one with Mistol, and three with alkyl-polyglucoside1) were found to have inadequate surface tension values for use as foliar fertilizers. In a second experiment, 20 formulations containing alkyl-polyglucoside2 and one each of the five Fe-compounds and adjuvants listed above, were used for a foliar experiment with Fe-deficient peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] grown under field conditions. Iron-deficient shoots were sprayed only once and leaf re-greening was assessed over 6 weeks for leaf chlorophyll content (via SPAD measurements) and percentage of green leaf area (via image analysis). Foliar Fe application always resulted in leaf Chl increases, although different degrees of re-greening were observed for the various Fe-compounds tested. Best results were obtained after treatment with formulations containing (in a decreasing order): Fe(II)-sulfate, Fe(III)-citrate, Fe(III)-EDTA, Fe(III)-IDHA, and Fe(III)-DTPA. A positive effect of adding glycerol, methanol or glycine–betaine was often observed, although the effect depended on each Fe-containing compound, indicating the existence of significant interactions between spray components. Results are of importance while trying to critically evaluate the potential of Fe sprays as a viable strategy to remedy plant Fe deficiency under field conditions.


Foliar fertilization Foliar sprays Iron chelates Iron chlorosis 



Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid


Iminodisuccinic acid




Relative humidity



This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education (Projects AGL2003-1999 and AGL2004-0194, co-financed with FEDER) and the Commission of European Communities (project Isafruit). V. Fernández was supported by a “I3P” post-doctoral contract financed by the CSIC, co-financed by the European Social Fund. We would like to thank L.M. Cerecedo (Centro Politécnico Superior, University of Zaragoza, Spain) and S. Jiménez-Tarodo for their support to carry out surface tension measurements and statistical analyses, respectively. Thanks are given to Lanxess and Cognis for providing free sample products for experimental purposes.


  1. Abadía J, Abadía A (1993) Iron and plant pigments. In: Barton LL, Hemming BC (eds) Iron chelation in plants and soil microorganisms. Academic Press, New York, pp 327–343. ISBN 0-12-079870-0Google Scholar
  2. Abadía J, Álvarez-Fernández A, Morales F, Sanz M, Abadía A (2002a) Correction of iron chlorosis by foliar sprays. Acta Hortic 594:115–121Google Scholar
  3. Abadía J, López-Millán A-F, Rombolà A D, Abadía A (2002b) Organic acids and Fe deficiency: a review. Plant Soil 241:75–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Álvarez-Fernández A, Paniagua P, Abadía J, Abadía A (2003) Effects of Fe deficiency chlorosis on yield and fruit quality in peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch). J Agric Food Chem 51:5738–5744PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Álvarez-Fernández A, García-Laviña P, Fidalgo J, Abadía J, Abadía A (2004) Foliar fertilization to control iron chlorosis in pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees. Plant Soil 263:5–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Álvarez-Fernández A, Abadía J, Abadía A (2006) Iron deficiency, fruit yield and quality. In: Barton LL, Abadía J (eds) Iron nutrition in plants and rizospheric microorganisms. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 85–101, ISBN-10 1-4020-4742-8Google Scholar
  7. Barthlott W, Neinhuis C (1997) Purity of the sacred lotus, or escape from contamination in biological surfaces. Planta 202:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beyer M, Peschel S, Weichert H, Knoche M (2002) Studies on water transport through the sweet cherry fruit surface: VII Fe3+ and Al3+ reduce conductance for water uptake. J Agric Food Chem 50:7600–7608PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brüggemann W, Maas-Kantel K, Moog PR (1993) Iron uptake by leaf mesophyll cells: the role of the plasma-membrane bound ferric-chelate reductase. Planta 190:151–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Currier HB, Dybing CD (1959) Foliar penetration of herbicides. Review and present status. Weeds 7:195–213Google Scholar
  11. Domínguez E, Heredia A (1999) Water hydration in cutinized cell walls: a physico-chemical analysis. Biochim Biophys Acta 1426:168–176PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Eichert T, Burkhardt J, Goldbach HE (2002) Some factors controlling stomatal uptake. Acta Hortic 594:85–90Google Scholar
  13. Fernández V (2004) Investigations on foliar iron application to plants—a new approach. Shaker Verlag, Aachen, Germany, 171ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Fernández V, Ebert G (2005) Foliar iron fertilization—a critical review. J Plant Nutr 28:2113–2124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fernández V, Ebert G, Winkelmann G (2005) The use of microbial siderophores for foliar iron application studies. Plant Soil 272:245–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hazen JL (2000) Adjuvants—terminology, classification, and chemistry. Weed Technol 14:773–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Horesh I, Levy Y (1981) Response of iron-deficient citrus trees to foliar iron sprays with a low-surface-tension surfactant. Sci Hortic 15:227–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jansen LL, Gentner WA, Shaw WC (1961) Effect of surfactants on the herbicidal activity of several herbicides in aqueous spray systems. Weeds 9:381–405Google Scholar
  19. Jeffree CE (1996) Structure and ontogeny of plant cuticles. In: Kerstiens G (ed), Plant cuticles: an integrated functional approach. Bios Scientific Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp 33–82Google Scholar
  20. Kadman A, Gazit S (1984) The problem of iron deficiency in mango trees and experiments to cure it in Israel. J Plant Nutr 7:283–290Google Scholar
  21. Knoche M, Tamura H, Bukovac MJ (1991) Stability of the organosilicone surfactant Silwet L-77 in growth regulator sprays. HortScience 26:1498–1500Google Scholar
  22. Koch K, Neinhuis C, Ensikat HJ, Barthlott W (2004) Self assembly of epicuticular waxes on living plant surfaces imaged by atomic force microscopy (AFM). J Exp Bot 55:711–718PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kosegarten H, Hoffmann B, Mengel K (2001) The paramount influence of nitrate in increasing apoplastic pH of young sunflower leaves to induce Fe deficiency chlorosis, and the re-greening effect brought about by acidic foliar sprays. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 164:155–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Larbi A, Morales F, López-Millán AF, Gogorcena Y, Abadía A, Moog PR, Abadía J (2001) Technical advance: reduction of Fe(III)-chelates by mesophyll leaf disks of sugar beet. Multi-component origin and effects of Fe deficiency. Plant Cell Physiol 42:94–105PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. López-Millán AF, Morales F, Abadía A, Abadía J (2001) Changes induced by iron deficiency in the composition of the leaf apoplastic fluid from field-grown pear (Pyrus communis L.) trees. J Exp Bot 52:1489–1498PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Neumann M, Prinz R (1975) The reduction by surfactants of leaf burn resulting from foliar sprays and a salt-induced inhibition of the effect. J Sci Food Agric 26:909–914CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nikolic M, Römheld V (2003) Nitrate does not result in iron inactivation in the apoplast of sunflower leaves. Plant Physiol 132:1303–1314PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nonomura AM, Nishio JN, Benson AA (1995) Stimulated growth and correction of Fe-deficiency with trunk- and foliar-applied methanol-soluble nutrient amendments. In: Abadía J (ed) Iron nutrition of soils and plants. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 329–333Google Scholar
  29. Popp C, Burghardt M, Friedmann A, Rieder M (2005) Characterization of hydrophilic and lipophilic pathways of Hedera helix L. cuticular membranes: permeation of water and uncharged organic compounds. J Exp Bot 56:2797–2806PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rombolà AD, Brüggemann W, Tagliavini M, Marangoni B, Moog PR (2000) Iron source affects iron reduction and re-greening of kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) leaves. J Plant Nutr 23:1751–1765Google Scholar
  31. Sanz M, Cavero J, Abadía J (1992) Iron chlorosis in the Ebro River Basin, Spain. J Plant Nutr 15:1971–1981Google Scholar
  32. Schols P, Dessein S, D’Hondt K, Huysmans S, Smets E (2002) Carnoy: a new digital measurement tool for palynology. Grana 41:124–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schönherr J (1976) Water permeability of isolated cuticular membranes: the effect of pH and cations on diffusion, hydrodynamic permeability and size of polar pores in the cutin matrix. Planta 128:113–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schönherr J (2000) Calcium chloride penetrates plant cuticles via aqueous pores. Planta 212:112–118PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schönherr J (2001) Cuticular penetration of calcium salts: effects of humidity, anions, and adjuvants. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 164:225–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schönherr J (2002) A mechanistic analysis of penetration of glyphosate salts across astomatous cuticular membranes. Pest Manag Sci 58:343–351PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schönherr J, Bukovac M (1972) Penetration of stomata by liquids. Dependence on surface tension, wettability and stomatal morphology. Plant Physiol 49:813–819PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schönherr J, Schreiber L (2004) Size selectivity of aqueous pores in astomatous cuticular membranes isolated from Populus canescens (Aiton) Sm. leaves. Planta 219:405–411PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schönherr J, Fernández 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 53:4484–4492PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schreiber L, Elshatshat S, Koch K, Lin J, Santrucek J (2006) AgCl precipitates in isolated cuticular membranes reduce rates of cuticular transpiration. Planta 223:283–290PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Weichert H, Von Jagemann C, Peschel S, Knoche M, Neumann D, Erfurth W (2004) Studies on water transport through the sweet cherry fruit surface: VIII. Effect of selected cations on water uptake and fruit cracking. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 129:781–788Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Fernández
    • 1
    Email author
  • Victor Del Río
    • 1
  • Javier Abadía
    • 1
  • Anunciación Abadía
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Nutrition Department, Estación Experimental de Aula DeiConsejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)ZaragozaSpain

Personalised recommendations