Chelated Iron...Organic or not?

greenepastures(9)September 25, 2012

Greetings gardeners. I was given a bag of chelated iron. It's a reddish-purpleish, granular substance and a small amount, say a couple of tablespoons, turns two gallons of water dark red. I'm a bit nervous because I don't know if this substance is fully organic. It certainly doesn't say so on the label....It's not "OMRI" listed but some organic products aren't. I don't know if I can trust this thing. I'm seeking some "OMRI" listed iron product for my vegetable garden but in the meantime, can I trust chelated iron in my vegetable garden and still be considered organic?

Remember, I'm new at this and I'm learning as I go along. This is my first garden so please be accurate, but delicate with your responses.

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What brand is it?

Just look up what iron chelate actually is.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 9:41PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Does your soil need it? Only a professional soil test knows.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:38PM
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"Chelate" is a generic term like "salt" and could include scores of possible compounds. All we can say without more info is that it is iron combined with something else. It appears this is usually gluconate (glucose, a sugar) or it's combined with an amino acid (protein building block).

I can help with the chemistry once we know what the product is, but others will have to help judge whether it is organic. It seems to me that if a typical NPK fertilizer is not considered 'organic', this stuff would not be.

Look on the label for the ingredients.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 12:23PM
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What? Chelate synonym of salt? It is synonym of being available to be absorbed by living organisms if necessary!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 12:00AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Tox did not say a synonym for salt, simply that it is a generic term, just like "salt" is a generic term.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 12:20AM
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Iron is a micro nutrient, plants need small amounts while an excess can be harmful so a good soil test is necessary to see if additional amounts are needed and if the deficiency (if there is one) is not due to other factors such as soil pH.
Chelated Iron is a form of Iron more readily available to a plant. There are acceptable to organic growers chelated iron products that will have the OMRI stamp on the label. If that is not there it may not be acceptable to a commercial organic grower but could be to someone that is not selling what they grow.
Before you use this be sure you need it.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:27AM
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If the chelating agent is bunch of letters like EDDHA,DTPA or EDTA it's synthetic.

Common organic chelating agents are lignosulfates and citric acid.

The synthetics are far more effective but rather nasty critters so use wisely and sparingly as a last resort.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:49AM
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tsuga - thank you, that is indeed what I meant.

Thanks kimmsr and garg for the detailed info, you two have probably forgotten more about this than I'll ever know. :-p That's what I like about this place, I end up looking up stuff that people ask about, or else getting edumacated by you guys.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 11:20AM
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mike_jw(London. UK)

A gardening consumer publication writing about Slug pellets says that some ferric phosphate pellets also contain a
chelating agent, called EDTA, to make the iron more soluble and this chemical is highly toxic to earthworms.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 1:42PM
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kikifoow(9: Bay Area)

Not much to add here. Chelate means that a metal atom is part of the ringed molecule (ie the molecule has a 'ring' structure and one of the atoms involved is a metal).

There's the chemistry bit to add to the other technical stuff. And it is more available to soil/plants because as a general rule of thumb a ring structure is more easily broken apart....

Not sure why you would use this product though unless you have a confirmed deficiency of iron in your soil from a professional test...

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Well, here's a question...does it matter to you if your product/process is certified organic?

To me, it makes a difference. Because if i have to certify, i'm really not interested. And if I don't have to certify, I have options that are perfectly reasonable that certain certification programs prohibit.

Just because it is organic doesn't mean it's not a chemical. Just because it's a chemical doesn't mean it's not safe.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 12:13AM
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If it isn't OMRI listed it cannot be used in organic certified operations. It also cannot be used in organic certified operations unless you follow certain rules about applying any ammendments or treatments that include some kind of documentation or testing to show it is needed.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 2:33PM
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Just to muddy the waters a bit more, one must use a chelator that is appropriate for their particular soil, wrong chelated Fe in the wrong soil, won't work for the intended purpose. For instance, EDDHA is the chelator of choice for calcareous and alkaline soils as opposed to DTPA which is for slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:46AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Haven't we gone around the iron phosphate chelator hurts earthworms merry-go-round before? The studies show little harm at the recommended dosage levels.

Also, unless there is a reason you need certified organic products I don't see the need to worry about it in this instance.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 1:16PM
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