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About Silicon

The importance of silicon in agricultural systems is generally underestimated and largely ignored.

For example, in the Rice Knowledge Bank of the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) the symptoms and effects of silicon deficiency are described as: "not very common in irrigated rice" and "common in old and degraded paddy soils, organic soils with small mineral Si reserves, and in highly weathered and leached tropical soils in the rainfed lowland and upland areas".

This concept is an example of the general idea that silicon deficiency in plants seems to be 'a limited problem', because in almost all soils there is plenty of silicon (such as silicates and SiO2 compounds).

Nevertheless, there is a 'silicon deficiency' in the plant!

Why?

Plants need 'silicic acid' and not silicon.

The name 'Silicon' is a general name and can be linked to at least 100,000 different silicon based compounds.

From these compounds, silicic acid is the only bio-available silicon compound.

Unfortunately, the concentration of silicic acid in the soil is very low. This because silicic acid is extremely instable.

Despite the abundance of silicon compounds in the soil, there is hardly 'plant-available Silicon' which relevant silicic acid.

Conclusion: there is no silicon deficiency as such, but a deficiency of plant-available silicic acid.

figure 1

Fig. 1