The Q&A Archives: Iron and Calcium

Question: How does the amount of iron and calcium in soil affect the growth of bean plants? Also, what affect does over-fertilizing have on bean plants?

Answer: Iron is a component of leghemoglobin, which functions in the regulation of oxygen supply to bacteroids. It is also found in both the Fe- and FeMo- proteins of the nitrogenase complex, and it is essential for early nodule development. Plants which are Fe-deficient develop many nodule initials but few functioning nodules. Both host and strain can differ in efficiency of Fe utilization. Alkaline soil conditions limit the availability of iron, zinc, manganese and boron in the soil, thereby reducing plant growth and N2 fixation. Foliar fertilization with micronutrients is often an effective remedy. Legumes, as a group, are also markedly sensitive to salt. Over-fertilization will result in salt burn and demise of the bean plants.

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