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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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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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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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Joseph P. Albano and Donald J. Merhaut

The objectives of the study were to determine effects of iron (Fe) source on plant growth, plant nutrition, substrate chemistry, and runoff chemistry. Iron source (FS) treatments consisted of Fe-aminopolycarboxylic acid (APCA) complexones iron ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA), iron [S, S′]-ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (FeEDDS), iron diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (FeDTPA), and iron ethylenediaminedi(o-hydroxyphenylacetic) acid (FeEDDHA) and non-chelated iron sulfate (FeSO4) added to a base nutrient solution at the rate of 1 mg·L−1 Fe final concentration. Marigold (Tagetes erecta) ‘First Lady' was grown in peat-based media fertilized with FS treatments over a period of 22 d. Iron source treatments were nonsignificant for foliar Fe, manganese (Mn), or zinc (Zn) averaging 162 μg·g−1 Fe, 228 μg·g−1 Mn, and 35 μg·g−1 Zn but were significant for foliar copper (Cu). Main effect of FS on pour-through (PT) leachate pH was statistically different but not practically significant, averaging 6.42. The FeDTPA treatment resulted in higher levels of Cu, Fe, and Zn in PT extracts. Leachate-runoff (LR) was collected and analyzed over the course of the study. Results of LR were similar to PT with levels of Cu, Fe, and Zn for the FeDTPA treatment resulting in higher concentrations of these metals. In both PT and LR, the highest concentration of Mn was associated with the FeEDTA treatment. Spectrophotometer analyses of PT and LR leachates determined the presence of all Fe chelates tested in those solutions.

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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

Irradiating a ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA)-containing commercially available soluble fertilizer with ultraviolet (UV) and blue radiation from high intensity discharge (HID) lamps caused the photooxidation of the FeEDTA complex, resulting in the loss of 98% of soluble iron. The loss of soluble iron coincided with the development of a precipitate that was mostly composed of iron. The effects of using an irradiated FeEDTA-containing fertilizer solution on plant growth and nutrition under commercial conditions were studied. Application of the irradiated fertilizer solutions to greenhouse grown tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum) resulted in lower levels of iron (6%) and zinc (9%), and higher levels of manganese (8%) and copper (25%) in leaf tissue compared to control plants that received a nonirradiated fertilizer solution. Leaf macronutrient levels (phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and magnesium), leaf dry weight, leaf number, and plant height was not affected by application of the irradiated fertilizer solution.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Irradiation of, ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA, iron chelate)-containing commercial fertilizer solutions by fluorescent plus incandescent lamps resulted in the loss of both FeEDTA and soluble iron (Fe), and the formation of a yellow-tan precipitate that was mostly composed of Fe. The ratio of soluble Fe:manganese (Mn) was altered due to FeEDTA photodegradation from 2:1 in the nonirradiated solutions to 1:4 in the irradiated solutions, respectively. Storing fertilizer solutions in containers that were impervious to light prevented FeEDTA photodegradation.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

The susceptibility of seven African marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) cultivars to iron toxicity was assessed. Plants were grown in a greenhouse in a soilless medium and Fe-DTPA was incorporated into the nutrient solution at either 0.018 mmol·L-1 (low) or 0.36 mmol·L-1 (high). Symptoms of Fe toxicity (bronze speckle disorder in marigold characterized by chlorotic and necrotic speckling and downward leaf cupping and curling) developed only in the high-Fe treatment. The concentration of Fe in leaves in the high-Fe treatment was 5.6 and 1.7 times as great as in the low-Fe treatment for `Orange Jubilee' and `Discovery Orange', respectively. Based upon the percentage of plants affected and leaf symptom severity, relative cultivar susceptibility to Fe toxicity was Orange Jubilee > First Lady > Orange Lady > Yellow Galore > Gold Lady > Marvel Gold > Discovery Orange. Chemical names used: ferric diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid, disodium salt dihydrate (Fe-DTPA).

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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).