Silicon-the Forgotten Nutrient!

Silicon-the Forgotten Nutrient!
Home / Silicon-the Forgotten Nutrient!

Silicon is a natural element that makes up almost 90% of the earth’s crust and is usually found in the form of sand (silica).

Silicon is the second most abundant element on Earth, but most of it is not found in a plant-available form. Although it is found in the leaf hairs of all plants, it is not considered an essential nutrient. Even so, there is growing evidence that silicon helps make plants more resistant to pests and diseases.

Significant research has been conducted on monocotyledonous crops such as wheat around the world, showing that the application of silicon leads to positive morphological changes, including strengthening cell walls and increasing leaf cuticle thickness, reducing disease infections, and improving quality and post-harvest shelf life.

All plants require some silicon, and it needs to be in a bioavailable form—silicic acid (H4SiO4)—in order for it to be absorbed and utilized by plants.

The first line of defense against any pest or disease is the outer layer of the leaf – leaf hairs, waxy cuticle, epidermal cells and cell walls – which together form part of the passive defense pathway.

Silicon makes the cuticle and cell walls of the epidermis and palisade layers thicker, which enhances passive defense pathways and thus inhibits penetration of the leaf structure by fungal pathogens!

Silicon is being developed as a biostimulant that provides a range of soil and crop health benefits! It can increase yields, improve soil health, strengthen plants and improve disease response!

How silicon works:

Once absorbed, silicon moves around the plant and is deposited in the cells. It then works to strengthen the plant and improve its natural defense properties. Silicon is deposited in roots, leaves, stems and even fruits and grains.

Increase resistance to disease and pests:

Silicon strengthens cell walls and allows the plant to create a tough shell with extra leaf hairs. This makes it difficult for pests to penetrate and also limits the growth of fungal hyphae. After cellular uptake, the deposited silicon becomes immovable. However, as part of its natural defense system, plants are able to redirect newly absorbed silicon to areas of stress or attack. Therefore, it is important to apply regularly.

Silicaon can increase resistance to abiotic stresses:

With a tougher internal structure, plants are better able to tolerate conditions such as extreme heat, cold, drought and strong winds, resulting in reduced wilting and lodging levels in a variety of crops.

Increase production and growth rate:

With less stress, plants can focus their energy elsewhere. In studies, we observed that in some varieties, increased photosynthesis levels resulted in larger fruits/increased grain fill and increased Brix. We also see the benefits of planting early varieties, even earlier.

Balance the intake of other elements:

Silicon promotes the absorption of beneficial elements such as zinc, calcium and nitrogen. It also regulates phosphorus uptake levels and prevents trace metal toxicity in the growing medium.

Silicon can be applied at every stage of crop growth using a variety of application methods:

  • Directly into the soil
  • As a seed treatment
  • Through fertigation
  • As foliar spray

Strengthen plants and reduce chemical input using sustainable, natural plant protection options.

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