Plant Resilience and Plant Health
After oxygen, silicon is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust and plays a critical role in plant growth and development. Although not considered an essential nutrient, silicon has been shown to provide numerous benefits, especially under stressful conditions.
Plants absorb silicon mainly in the form of the monomeric silicic acid present in the soil. The concentration of silicon varies according to the species but ranges from 0.1% to 10% by dry weight of plants.
One of the most outstanding benefits of silicon is the ability to improve plant resistance to pests and diseases. Silicon strengthens their epidermal system, forming a protective layer under the cuticle, which makes it difficult for pathogens to gain access to the inside of the plant. It also stimulates the production of defense enzymes and disease-suppressing compounds.
As well, it contributes to increase photosynthesis, which translates into higher crop yield and quality. And it helps to maintain a better nutrient balance, which promotes healthy growth and development.
Under abiotic stress conditions, such as drought, silicon plays an important role in improving plant tolerance. The accumulation of silicon under the cuticle reduces the rate of transpiration, allowing the plants to conserve water and become more resistant to drought. In addition, silicon improves the stability of cell membranes and stimulates the production of antioxidants and heat shock proteins, which helps them resist to extreme temperature stress.
Another benefit is its ability to alleviate heavy metal toxicity. Furthermore, silicon reduces sodium absorption and accumulation, which is especially beneficial in saline conditions, where high sodium concentrations can negatively affect the plant metabolism.
As for its application, it can be administered to the soil directly or by foliar sprays. Foliar applications have also been found to be effective in controlling diseases such as powdery mildew in various crops.
In summary, silicon plays a crucial role in plant development and well-being, and its use should be considered to achieve both healthy growth and increased crop production.