Location: Application Technology Research Unit
Title: Evaluation of the use of Supplemental Silicon in Floricultural Crop Production to Reduce Disease Stress and Micronutrient (Cu) Toxicity and to Enhance Crop Quality Authors
Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2009
Publication Date: June 14, 2009
Citation: Locke, J.C., Frantz, J., Omer, M.A., Sturtz, D.S., Li, J., Leisner, S. 2009. Evaluation of the use of Supplemental Silicon in Floricultural Crop Production to Reduce Disease Stress and Micronutrient (Cu) Toxicity and to Enhance Crop Quality. GreenSys 2009, June 14-19, 2009; Quebec City, Canada. p.96, p.144. Technical Abstract: Silicon (Si) is not typically considered in management practices for floricultural crops grown in the United States and it is not present in appreciable amounts in many soilless growing media. We have been able to demonstrate positive effects of Si addition either through amending growing media or by supplementing the fertigation solution. We have documented that at least a dozen commonly produced floricultural crops can accumulate Si in concentrations in excess of 0.1% dry weight of leaf tissue when grown in Si amended hydroponic solution. High Si accumulating crops (>0.5% of dry weight) have also shown the ability to take up and accumulate Si from the growing medium when Si is supplied either as a component of the medium (rice hulls, silica slag) or is included in the fertigation solution (formulated as potassium silicate). In a model system using Zinnia elegans, powdery mildew infection was shown to be both delayed in onset and reduced in severity in plants receiving supplemental Si. When zinnias, grown in hydroponic culture, were exposed to toxic levels of copper, both roots and shoots demonstrated copper toxicity. The addition of Si in the nutrient solutions containing elevated levels of copper resulted in increased shoot and root biomass and reduced leaf chlorosis indicating that silicon can alleviate copper stress. It is anticipated that this information will provide for the development of production protocols utilizing fewer agrochemical inputs and producing higher quality greenhouse floricultural crops.