Skip to main content
Log in

Behaviour of iron chelates in calcareous soils

I. Laboratory experiments with Fe-EDTA and Fe-HEEDTA

  • Published:
Plant and Soil Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Fe-EDTA and Fe-HEEDTA, labelled with Fe59, were applied at rates of 10 and 100 ppm iron to 50-g samples of dry soil, which were then stored for periods ranging from one to fifteen days before extracting with water.

The analyses of the extracts lead to the following general conclusions.

1. The decrease in soluble iron could be attributed to both sorption of chelate anions by the clay and to replacement of iron by calcium in the chelate molecule.

2. The amount of each chelate sorbed changed little with time and was proportional to the quantity applied. More HEEDTA was sorbed than EDTA.

3. The initial decrease in the concentration of soluble iron was rapid for both chelates, but was the greater for Fe-HEEDTA.

4. The precipitation of iron from the soluble Fe-HEEDTA was slower than from Fe-EDTA, so that fifteen days after treatment more soluble iron was obtained from the Fe-HEEDTA treatments.

5. Marked increases in the recoveries of Fe-EDTA were made when the treated soils were sealed within small containers, compared with those allowed free access to the air. Comparable treatments using Fe-HEEDTA had a much smaller effect.

6. Isotopic exchange of Fe59 with natural soil iron was greater in the treatments with 10 ppm chelated iron than the 100 ppm level. Fe-HEEDTA was subject to more exchange than Fe-EDTA at both levels.

These results are discussed in relation to the treatment of soils with iron chelates for the control of lime-induced chlorosis, and to the importance of isotopic exchange when using chelates labelled with radioactive iron in soil.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Bould, C., Chelated iron compounds for the correction of lime-induced chlorosis in fruit. Nature175, 90–91 (1955).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bould, C., The use of iron chelates for the control of lime-induced chlorosis in fruit: Progress Report II. Ann. Rept. Long Ashton Research Sta. 1955, 87–92 (1956).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Darbey, A., Colorimetric determination of sodium salts of ethylenediaminetetracetic acid. Anal. Chem.24, 373–378 (1952).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Fortune, W. B. and Mellon, M. G., Determination of iron with ortho-phenanthroline. Ind. Eng. Chem. Anal. Ed.10, 60–64 (1938).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hill-Cottingham, D. G., Spectrophotometric determination of iron chelates. Analyst80, 906–908 (1955).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Holmes, R. S. and Brown, J. C., Chelates as correctives for chlorosis. Soil Sci.80, 167–179 (1955).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Leonard, C. D. and Stewart, I., Chelated iron as a corrective for lime-induced chlorosis in citrus. Proc. Florida State Hort. Soc.66, 49–54 (1953).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Lunt, O. R. and Wallace, A., Use of iron chelates. Calif. Agr.9, (6), 5 (1955).

    Google Scholar 

  9. McKay, H. A. C., Kinetics of exchange reactions. Nature142, 997–998 (1938).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Norris, T. H., The kinetics of istopic exchange reactions. J. Phys. Colloid Chem.54, 777–783 (1950).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Stewart, I. and Leonard, C. D., Chelated metals for growing plants. Childers, N.F., ed. Mineral Nutrition of Fruit Crops, Chapt. 16. Horticultural Publications, New Brunswick, N. J. (1954).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Wallace, A., North, C. P., Kofranek, A. M. and Lunt, O. R., Chlorosis in ornamentals. Calif. Agr.7, (10) 13–14 (1953).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Wallace, A., Mueller, R. T., Lunt, O. R., Ashcroft, R. T. and Shannon, L M., Comparisons of five chelating agents in soils, in nutrient solutions, and in plant responses. Soil Sci.80, 101–108 (1955).

    Google Scholar 

  14. Wallace, A., North, C. P., Mueller, R. T., Shannon, L. M. and Hemaiden, N., Behaviour of chelating agents in plants. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci.65, 9–16 (1955).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hill-Cottingham, D.G., Lloyd-Jones, C.P. Behaviour of iron chelates in calcareous soils. Plant Soil 8, 263–274 (1957).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: