Another reason why you should be using silicon in your turf production practices

Insight

Using silicon in turf production

In our last article, we shared some recent findings on how the use of silicon can positively impact plant growth. Several scientific studies have now demonstrated that silicon can also enhance the stress tolerance of a range of plants, including turf species.

Silicon enhances the tolerance of turf to drought

The availability and cost of irrigation water is increasingly becoming a significant problem for turf production. Experiments in the USA have shown that silicon-treated turf, which had been subjected to drought, had significantly enhanced quality, colour and density compared to non-treated turf.

For example, Kentucky bluegrass, pre-treated with sodium silicate (Na2SiO3) over 2 weeks, was subjected to drought stress. Measurements of chlorophyll, electrolyte leakage, and antioxidative activity were recorded.

Compared to the plants that had not been pre-treated, silicon-treated, drought-stressed Kentucky bluegrass plants:

  • were longer;
  • had more roots (both length and weight);
  • weighed more (dry weight);
  • maintained higher stomatal conductance;
  • maintained relative water content;
  • maintained water potential;
  • had leaves that were larger and thicker, thereby limiting the loss of water through transpiration and reducing water consumption.

Additionally, silicon fertilisation seemed to modify the development of secondary and tertiary cells of the plant endodermis. This allows better root resistance in dry soils and promotes a faster growth of roots, all of which enhance the plant’s tolerance to drought conditions.

Silicon also induces changes in the metabolism of plants including stimulation of antioxidant defences which help maintain key processes such as photosynthesis, especially during the summer when plants are influenced by environmental stress, including drought. The use of silicon applications in UK turf production has also indicated that it can increase water-use efficiency in irrigated turf and enhance the response of turf to foliar nutrition.

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