Plant nutrients consist of macro and micronutrients which are generally considered by agronomists for increasing and sustaining crop yields.
However, there are non-essential elements, that under certain agroclimatic conditions, enhance plant growth by promoting several physiological processes.
Although not considered essential, these elements are said to be functional nutrients.
At times they are so important that they can be regarded agronomically essential to sustainable crop production.
Members of the grass family accumulate large amounts of Silicon and as far as they are concerned, Silicon is such an element.
The amount of Silicon that is present in most plants is very significant. It is comparable to the levels of calcium, magnesium and even phosphorus. Grasses tends to contain silicon at levels higher than any other nutrients.
Plants with severe deficiency in silicon are much weaker as compared to normal plants. The symptoms of silicon deficiency includes slower growth and development, as well as reproduction. It is also more susceptible to toxic metals, as well as attacks by viruses, diseases and insects.
Silicon is deposited as silica in the cell walls, giving structural rigidity and strength. This allows plants to better resist damage or attack that involves tissue penetration.
Since most fungal diseases require initial penetration of the outer epidermis, strengthening this protective layer will logically provide better resistance to various diseases.
Silicon accumulator crops include rice, sugarcane, maize, barley and wheat.
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