Iron chelate

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Iron chelate, also known as chelated iron, is a soluble complex of iron, sodium and a chelating agent such as ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA), EDDHA, or others, used to make the iron soluble in water and, for the purposes of agriculture, accessible to plants.

It is encountered as a dark brownish powder, and can be a mild irritant to the skin, respiratory membranes or eyes.


Iron chelate is commonly used for agricultural purposes to treat chlorosis, a condition in which leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll. In horticulture, iron chelate is often referred to as 'sequestered iron' and is used as a plant tonic, often mixed with other nutrients and plant foods (e.g. seaweed). It is recommended in ornamental horticulture for feeding ericaceous plants like Rhododendrons if they are growing in calcareous soils. The Sequestered iron is available to the ericaceous plants, without adjusting the soil's pH, and thus lime-induced chlorosis is prevented.

Iron chelate has also been used as a bait in the chemical control of slugs, snails and slaters in agriculture in Australia and New Zealand. They have advantages over other more generally poisonous substances used as their toxicity is more specific to molluscs.[1]

Iron chelate, commonly present as FeEDTA(Ferric Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid), is also used to control broadleaf weeds in lawns. There are a few weeds that are not damaged by FeEDTA and users will likely need a traditional herbicide to accomplish the task.

Since the 1970s, iron chelation therapy with a similar agent, deferoxamine, has been used as an alternative to regular phlebotomy to treat excess iron stores in people with haemochromatosis.[2]


  1. ^ Young CL, Armstrong GD (2001). "Slugs, Snails and Iron based Baits: An Increasing Problem and a Low Toxic Specific Action Solution". Australian Society of Agronomy. The Regional Institute. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  2. ^ "Hemochromatosis: Monitoring and Treatment". National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD). 2007-11-01. Archived from the original on May 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-18.