Availability of a major mineral is lacking in many soils, but most soil tests don’t monitor its presence, and most agronomists don’t recommend adding it to the soil.
Silica, the overlooked mineral can boost the plant’s resistance to stress; increase photosynthesis and chlorophyll content; improve drought resistance and salt tolerance; prevent lodging; and lower irrigation requirements.
If that’s not enough, silica is also believed to reduce insect attack, frost damage, and disease pressure, and to regulate the plant’s uptake of potentially toxic minerals.
Apart from strengthening plant cell walls and providing a barrier to disease and insect pests, silica also strengthens the plant stem, enabling the plant to remain more erect and assist to keep leaves well positioned to intercept light.
Silica aids plant uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and molybdenum.
Research has shown that silica can increase root growth and yield in grasses; increase the rate of photosynthesis in sugar cane and rice; and reduce lodging in cereals due to stronger stems. Many commercial cucumber producers regularly add silica as a foliar spray, or in hydroponic solutions, to help prevent the major disease, powdery mildew.
Other research results have shown Silica to:
- Increase sugar cane yield (dry weight) by 50%, and sugar content by 15 to 31%
- Increase cucumber fruit yield by 15 times, and fruit weight by 32 times
- Increase yields of hydroponic strawberries, lettuce, and dwarf beans
Many agricultural soils have very low levels of plant-available silica, potentially affecting plant production and health Because silica regulates plant uptake of iron, aluminium and manganese, low silica availability can also lead to high uptake and toxicity of these elements.
Plants require a continuous supply of silica from the soil throughout their growth cycle, and require soil microbes to convert soil silica into the plant-available form. High organic matter in soil raises soluble silica, while liming and the use of nitrogen or phosphate fertiliser lowers soluble silica.
The NatraMin range of bio-activated broad-spectrum mineral fertilisers all contain a naturally high level of silica.
For example, NatraMin Original blend contains 25% Silicon, the elemental form of Silica. NatraMin fertilisers also stimulate microbe and worm activity, resulting in better uptake of silica by plants.
Ensuring that your plants have enough silica for good health and production is another good reason for including NatraMin fertilisers in your soil management program