Plant and Soil

, 325:53 | Cite as

Evaluation of 59Fe-lignosulfonates complexes as Fe-sources for plants

  • Patricia Rodríguez-Lucena
  • Nicola Tomasi
  • Roberto Pinton
  • Lourdes Hernández-Apaolaza
  • Juan J. Lucena
  • Stefano Cesco
Regular Article


Iron chlorosis is a wide-spread limiting factor of production in agriculture. To cope with this problem, synthetic chelates (like EDTA or EDDHA) of Fe are used in foliar-spray or in soil treatments; however, these products are very expensive. Therefore paper-production byproducts, like Lignosulfonates (LS), with varying content of carboxylate and sulfonate groups, were tested with respect to their ability to maintain Fe in the solution of soils and to feed plants grown in hydroponics with Fe through foliar sprays or application to the nutrient solution. Results show that LS had a low capability to solubilize 59Fe-hydroxide and that preformed 59Fe(III)-LS complexes had poor mobility through a soil column (pH 7.5) and scarce stability when interacting with soils compared to 59Fe(III)-EDDHA. However when 59Fe(III)-LS were supplied to roots in a hydroponic system, they demonstrated an even higher capability to fed Fe-deficient tomato plants than 59Fe(III)-EDDHA. Hence, data here presented indicate that the low Fe use efficiency from Fe-LS observed in soil-applications is due to interactions of these Fe-sources with soil colloids rather than to the low capability of roots to use them. Foliar application experiments of 59Fe(III)-LS or 59Fe(III)-EDTA to Fe-deficient cucumber plants show that uptake and reduction rates of Fe were similar between all these complexes; on the other hand, when 59Fe(III)-LS were sprayed on Fe-deficient tomato leaves, they showed a lower uptake rate, but a similar reduction rate, than 59Fe(III)-EDTA did. In conclusion, Fe-LS may be a valid, eco-compatible and cheap alternative to synthetic chelates in dealing with Fe chlorosis when applied foliarly or in the nutrient solution of hydroponically grown plants.


Fe lignosulfonates Fe chlorosis Tomato Cucumber Foliar sprays Fe-deficiency 



Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid


Ethylenediamine-N,N′-bis(o-hydroxyphenylacetic acid)




Molecular weight



Work funded by the Italian Ministry for University Education and Research (MIUR), the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (Projects AGL2004-07849-C02-01/AGR and AGL2007—63756) and by the DGUI of the Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Autónoma University of Madrid (Project CCG07-UAM/AMB-1567/07). P. Rodríguez-Lucena was supported by a Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation “FPI” pre-doctoral contract co-financed by the European Social Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Rodríguez-Lucena
    • 1
  • Nicola Tomasi
    • 2
  • Roberto Pinton
    • 2
  • Lourdes Hernández-Apaolaza
    • 1
  • Juan J. Lucena
    • 1
  • Stefano Cesco
    • 2
  1. 1.Agricultural Chemistry DepartmentUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e AmbientaliUniversità degli Studi di UdineUdineItalia

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