Understanding Silicon as a beneficial nutrient
Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth crust, existing mainly in the form of silicon dioxide and silicates.
In plant biology, silicon is classified as a beneficial element and it is mainly found as a component of cell walls.
Plants that are applied with soluble silicon tend to produce stronger and tougher cell walls, making them a mechanical barrier to undesirable piercing and sucking insects. This significantly enhances plant heat and drought tolerance and resistance. The applied silicon also helps to compensate for toxic levels of manganese, iron, phosphorus and aluminum as well as zinc deficiency.
When applied by foliar sprays in the form of soluble silicon, the benefits include reducing populations of aphids on field crops and reducing the attacks on plant by fungus.
Other benefits include improvement in stem strength and thicker leaf.
Crops that are accumulator of silicon tend to suffer from severe soil deficiency. During harvesting, the removal of active silicon from cropland ranged from 40 to 300 kg per hectare. These removed nutrients are not commonly replaced.
Silicon accumulator crops include rice, sugar cane, corn, barley, wheat and others.
- V. V. Matichenkov, Silicon in Food, Agriculture and Environment (ISFAE), 2004
- A.V Barker, D.J.Pilbeam, Handbook of Plant Nutrition, 2007
- L.E.Datnoff, F.A.Rodrigues, The Role of Silicon in Suppressing Rice Diseases, 2005
- J.Chen, R.D.Caldwell, C.A.Robinson, R.Steinkamp, Let’s Put the Si back into Soil, 2001
- V.V.Matichenkov, D.V. Calvert, Silicon as a Beneficial Element for Sugarcane, 2002