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Joseph P. Albano

Aminopolycarboxylic acid (APCA) complexones, commonly referred to as ligands or chelating agents, like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA), are commonly used in soluble fertilizers to supply copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and/or zinc (Zn) to plants. Offsite runoff and contamination of surface waters with these chelating agents is of increasing concern as a result of their reported ability to remobilize heavy metals in sediments and their low susceptibility to biodegradation. The APCA ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (EDDS) is a structural isomer of EDTA with the [S,S′] stereoisomer of the complexone, a compound naturally produced by actinomycetes, and is biodegradable. Information on the use of [S,S′]-EDDS as a chelating agent in formulating soluble fertilizers for the production of horticultural crops is limited. Therefore, a series of studies were conducted with the objectives of evaluating Fe[S,S′]-EDDS as an Fe-chelate fertilizer agent in the production of marigold and [S,S′]-EDDS (free ligand) and/or Fe[S,S′]-EDDS spectral properties and vulnerability to photodegrdation. Marigold grown in peat-based media were fertilized with complete nutrient solution containing 1 mg·L−1 Fe from FeEDDS, FeEDTA, or FeDTPA. There was no significant difference in foliar Fe or Mn between Fe-chelate treatments, averaging 140 μg·g−1 and 88 μg·g−1, respectively, nor were there significant differences in leaf dry weight (2.30 g) between Fe treatments. Spectra of [S,S′]-EDDS and Fe[S,S′]-EDDS produced from ferrous or ferric sources of Fe absorbed maximally in the 210 to 230 nm and 238 to 240-nm range, respectively. The [S,S′]-EDDS complexone used in the current study, a 30% assay solution, had chromaphoric properties, appearing light yellow in color. When exposed to light, Fe[S,S′]-EDDS quickly degraded at a rate at least twice that of FeEDTA.

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Joseph P. Albano

Common chelating agents used in horticultural fertilizers like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA), and ethylenediaminedi(o-hydroxyphenylacetic) acid (EDDHA) are not readily biodegradable and may persist in the environment, maintaining the capacity to solubilize heavy metals. For this reason, biodegradable chelating agents like ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (EDDS) are being evaluated for use in horticultural crop production. Therefore, the objectives of the study were to determine the effects of FeEDDS and EDDS on substrate pH and copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn) solubility in peat-based substrate compared with various Fe and chelate-ligand sources. Extractions were performed using the 1:2 by volume substrate analysis method with an incubation period of 24 hours. The control was distilled deionized water extractions. Iron-source (FS) extractants consisted of 1 mg·L−1 Fe solutions derived from FeEDDS, FeEDTA, FeDTPA, FeEDDHA, and FeSO4. Iron-source extractant solution pH ranged from 7.1 (FeEDDS) to 5.4 (FeSO4). The extract pH for all Fe-source treatments was similar at pH 6.7, demonstrating the buffering capacity of the peat-based substrate. Iron recovery rates for FS treatments were determined after subtracting Fe that was freely extracted with distilled-deionized water: FeSO4 (13%), FeEDDHA (68%), FeEDDS (73%), FeEDTA (102%), and FeDTPA (121%). Iron-source treatments were not different for Mn, averaging 0.03 mg·L−1, and Cu (0.04 mg·L−1) and Zn (0.24 mg·L−1) were greatest in the FeEDDS treatment. Chelate-ligand (CL) extractants consisted of 5 mm solutions of EDDS, EDTA, and DTPA. Chelate-ligand extractant solution pH ranged from 9.7 (EDDS) to 2.3 (DTPA), and extract solution pH ranged from 7.2 (EDDS) to 4.7 (DTPA). Extractant solutions of EDDS and DTPA resulted in the lowest and highest levels of Cu (0.06 and 0.14 mg·L−1, respectively) and Fe (4.3 and 13.1 mg·L−1, respectively) in extract solutions. Overall, these results suggest that there are no negative implications for the use of FeEDDS with peat-based substrate in terms of horticultural crop production based on substrate Fe solubility, which was not different from FeEDTA.

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P. Chris Wilson and Joseph P. Albano

Nitrate-nitrogen (N) losses in surface drainage and runoff water from ornamental plant production areas can be considerable. In N-limited watersheds, discharge of N from production areas can have negative impacts on nontarget aquatic systems. This study monitored nitrate-N concentrations in production area drainage water originating from a foliage plant production area. Concentrations in drainage water were monitored during the transition from 100% reliance on fertigation using urea and nitrate-based soluble formulations (SF) to a nitrate-based controlled-release formulation (CRF). During the SF use period, nitrate-N concentrations ranged from 0.5 to 322.0 mg·L−1 with a median concentration of 31.2 mg·L−1. Conversely, nitrate-N concentrations during the controlled-release fertilization program ranged from 0 to 147.9 mg·L−1 with a median concentration of 0.9 mg·L−1. This project demonstrates that nitrate-N concentrations in drainage water during the CRF program were reduced by 94% to 97% at the 10th through 95th percentiles relative to the SF fertilization program. Nitrate-N concentrations in drainage water from foliage plant production areas can be reduced by using CRF fertilizer formulations relative to SF formulations/fertigation. Similar results should be expected for other similar containerized crops. Managers located within N-limited watersheds facing N water quality regulations should consider the use of CRF fertilizer formulations as a potential tool (in addition to appropriate application rates and irrigation management) for reducing production impacts on water quality.

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Mary C. Halbrooks and Joseph P. Albano

A specific physiological disorder of the recently matured leaves of Tagetes erecta has been demonstrated to be associated with high levels of iron and manganese in affected tissues. In previous work by the authors, the disorder was inducible and increased in severity with increasing levels of iron DTPA supplied to plants grown in peat-based media, but was much less severe when iron DTPA treatments were applied to plants grown hydroponically. At low concentrations of iron DTPA in solution, the occurrence of the disorder was more closely correlated with increased levels of manganese in leaf tissue than iron, Objectives of this study were to determine the effects of iron chelate (DTPA) on occurrence of the disorder and the availability of iron and manganese in the media in the absence of added manganese. Iron DTPA (1, 5, 15, and 20 ppm) was supplied to two cultivars of Tagetes erecta, `Voyager' and `First Lady', grown in a commercial peat-based media product under controlled environmental conditions. Concentrations of iron and manganese in leachate samples taken weekly, and in symptom and non-symptom tissue at harvest, and the progression of the symptoms in leaf tissue over time. will be discussed.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Iron chelate photodegradation is a problem in tissue culture where limited soluble Fe in agar reduces callus tissue growth. Our objectives were to determine if Fe chelate photodegradation occurs in commercial fertilizers used in greenhouse plant production and, if so, the effects on plant Fe acquisition. Commercial 20N–10P–20K soluble fertilizers containing Fe-EDTA were prepared as 100x stocks based on a 100 mg N/liter (1x) concentration. A modified Hoagland's solution with Fe-DTPA was prepared as a 10x stock based on a 200 mg N/liter (1x) concentration. Samples then were kept in darkness or were irradiated with 500 μmol·m–2·s–1 from fluorescent and incandescent sources for ≤240 hours. Soluble Fe in the irradiated commercial fertilizer solutions decreased 85% in 240 h. Soluble Fe in the Hoagland's solution, prepared in the lab, decreased 97% in 72 h. There was no loss in soluble Fe in any dark-stored treatment; demonstrating photodegradation of Fe-chelates under commercial settings. Excised roots of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), grown hydroponically in the irradiated solutions, had Fe(III)-DTPA reductase activity 2 to 6 times greater than roots of plants grown in solutions kept in darkness. Plants growing in irradiated solutions acidified the rhizosphere more than plants growing in solutions kept dark. The increase in Fe reductase activity and rhizosphere acidification are Fe-efficiency reactions of marigold responding to the photodegradation of Fe-chelates and subsequent decrease in soluble Fe in both commercial fertilizers and lab-prepared nutrient solution.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Irradiation of FeDTPA-containing nutrient solutions by a fluorescent plus incandescent light source resulted in the loss of both Fe-chelate and soluble Fe, the formation of a precipitate that was composed mostly of Fe, and a rise in pH. The rate of Fe-chelate photodegradation in solution increased with irradiance intensity and with solution temperature under irradiation, but irradiance had the greater effect. Fe-chelates absorb in the blue and UV regions of the spectrum. Removal of these wavelengths with a spectral filter eliminated photodegradation. Chemical name used: ferric diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (FeDTPA).

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) grown hydroponically in an irradiated nutrient solution containing FeDTPA had root ferric reductase activity 120% greater, foliar Fe level 33% less, and foliar Mn level 90% greater than did plants grown in an identical, nonirradiated solution, indicating that the plants growing in the irradiated solution were responding to Fe-deficiency stress with physiological reactions associated with Fe efficiency. The youngest leaves of plants grown in the irradiated solution had symptoms of Mn toxicity (interveinal chlorosis, shiny-bronze necrotic spots, and leaf deformation). Plants grown in irradiated solution in which the precipitated Fe was replaced with fresh Fechelate were, in general, no different from those grown in the nonirradiated solution. Chemical name used: ferric diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (FeDTPA).

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Our objective was to assess the susceptibility of seven marigold varieties to Fe toxicity. Marigold varieties included were one hedge type, `Orange Jubilee'; five semi-dwarf types, `First Lady', `Gold Lady', `Orange Lady', `Marvel Gold', and `Yellow Galore'; and one dwarf type, `Discovery Orange'. Plants were grown in a greenhouse in a soilless medium and treatments consisted of 0.018 mm (low) and 0.36 mm (high) Fe-DTPA incorporated into a nutrient solution. Plant height was not affected by Fe treatment and ranged from 32 cm in `Orange Jubilee', 13 to 14 cm in the semi-dwarf varieties, and 7.0 cm in `Discovery Orange'. Leaf dry weight per plant was not affected by Fe treatment and ranged from 1.15 g in `Orange Jubilee', 0.68 to 0.95 g in the semi-dwarf varieties, and 0.56 g in `Discovery Orange'. Symptoms of Fe toxicity only developed in the high Fe treatment, and the percent leaf dry weight separated at harvest as symptomatic ranged from 97% in `Orange Jubilee', 55% to 85% in the semidwarf varieties, and 15% in `Discovery Orange'. The Fe concentration in leaves in the high Fe treatment was 5.7-times greater in `Orange Jubilee', 2 to 3-times greater in the semi-dwarf varieties, and 1.6-times greater in `Discovery Orange' than in the low Fe treatment. Based on these findings, `Orange Jubilee' and `Discovery Orange' were the most and least susceptible varieties, respectively, to Fe toxicity of the seven marigold varieties evaluated in this study.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Marigolds under iron deficiency stress exhibited characteristics associated with iron efficiency (e.g. induced reductase and rhizosphere acidification). Ferric reduction rates for roots of the minus Fe-DTPA treatment group was 0.97 μmol·g FW-1·h-1, 14 times greater than the 17.9 μM Fe-DTPA treatment group. Excised primary lateral roots from the minus Fe-DTPA and 17.9 μM Fe-DTPA treatment groups embedded in an Fe reductase activity gel visually confirmed an increased Fe reduction rate for the minus Fe-DTPA treatment group. The pH of the nutrient solution one week after initiation of treatments indicated that the minus Fe-DTPA treatment group was 1 pH unit lower than the 17.9 μM Fe-DTPA treatment group at 4.1 and 5.1, respectively.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Our objective was to determine the effects on plant growth and physiology that a photodegraded Fe-chelate containing lab-prepared nutrient solution would have when used in plant culture. Plants grown hydroponically in the irradiated Fe-DTPA containing nutrient solution had ferric reductase activity 2.2 times greater, foliar Fe level 0.77 times less, and foliar Mn level 1.9 times greater than in plants grown in an identical but non-irradiated solution, indicating that plants growing in the irradiated solution were responding to Fe deficiency stress with physiological reactions associated with Fe efficiency. The youngest leaves of plants that were grown in the irradiated solution had symptoms of Mn toxicity. Restoration of the irradiated solution by removing the precipitated Fe by centrifugation and adding fresh Fe-chelate resulted in plants that were, in general, not different from those grown in the non-irradiated solution (control).