Potassium silicate is a source of highly soluble potassium and silicon. It is used in agricultural production systems primarily as a silica amendment, and has the added benefit of supplying extra potassium. Silicon has not been considered an essential plant nutrient in the past, despite proven beneficial effects of silicon in plant growth and disease prevention. The consideration as a plant nutrient may change as more scientists recognize benefits as well as the limits plants experience when the tissue silicon levels drop below desired levels. Silicon levels in plants should equal nitrogen levels to offer the plant protection in preventing pathogen and insect damage. Citrus trees treated with Potassium Silicate (where the level in tissue equaled nitrogen levels after treatment) have prevented insect damage and the out break of “Greening”. Trees affected by the disease have returned to quality production after adjusting fertilizer programs and balancing soil and microbial life.
There are numerous studies on the use of silica amendments to control disease mechanically (when applied as a foliar spray) and physiologically (when used a fertilizer). Studies have shown that nematode damage has been prevented and plants affected by root knot nematodes have grown out of the damage and returned to healthy production.
Potassium silicate offers growers these performance benefits:
- Provides resistance to mineral stress.
- Decreases climate stress.
- Prevents insect damage from sucking insects.
- Reduces fungus damage by preventing fungus from penetrating leaf surface.
- Increases growth and yield.
- Reduces stress from heavy metal toxicity in soils.
- Control root knot and sting nematodes.
- Helps plants to resist toxicity from phosphorous, manganese, aluminum, and iron.
- Increases salt tolerance.
- Aids in resistance to drought by reducing water loss.
- Improves leaf erectness, reduces susceptibility to lodging in grasses.
- Improves photosynthesis efficiency.
For turf this can result in faster, healthier greens and athletic fields. Row crops, vine crops, ornamentals, and hydroponically grown plants can all reap these benefits.
Potassium Silicate materials have been used for decades for natural control of fungal plant pathogens, insects and spider mites. They feature multiple modes of action and multiple benefits. When applied to plant foliage as a preventive, the silicon in Potassium Silicate is taken INTO the plant cuticle and forms a silicon matrix that acts as a physical barrier. Pathogenic fungi (using infection pegs) and spider mites (with their piercing sucking mouthparts) have difficulty penetrating the silicon barrier.
How Potassium Silicate Increases Resistance to Pathogens
Potassium Silicate is a natural fungicide; it helps build the plants defense from attacks by insects and fungus. It helps the plant growth by depositing in the epidermal cell walls, enhancing the plant's ability to keep the leaves pointed towards the light source. Potassium Silicate is impregnated in the epidermal cell layer acting as a barrier against penetration of fungal attacks from powdery mildew, black spots, Pythium, phytophthora and many more fungal problems. Potassium Silicate plays an active role in combating fungal growth by the production of polyphenolic compounds; this is a main part of the plants natural defense against fungal and insect attacks.
Potassium Silicate also increases the stem strength, making it easier to hold up more weight. Silicate increases the mechanical strength of the plant to help it in extreme heat and cold swings, salt build up in soils or increased TDS in water. It also controls the rate of transpiration of plants. As the plant increases the silicon levels, it increases nutrient uptake and distribution, and increased concentration of chlorophyll and RUBP carboxylase in leaves (a.k.a. the Calvin cycle).
The plants leaf system will rapidly bind Potassium Silicate in the tissue and cell walls (within 24 hours of uptake). When a plant has silicate uptake, it will start with the older growth and work its way into the newer growth to help build up the mechanical strength of the plant. Therefore a continuous source of silicate is very important.
When adding silicate to a foliage spray program, it will help lower the rate of disease attack and help protect the plants new leaves from spider mites, aphids, and many other sucking type insects.
How Potassium Silicate Increases the Metabolic Rate of Plants
It has been shown that silicate improves resistance to wilt, resistance to water stress, and can help fight heat stress up too 105o F. If your plant has excessive transpiration, the plant will cease its metabolic function and stunted or no growth will occur.
It also increases reproductive rate in plants (bud growth). The correct amount of silicon levels in the plant tissue will increase tolerance of zinc deficiencies along with protection from excessive or toxic levels of phosphorus, manganese, sodium and aluminum.
Potassium Silicate is an active ingredient to be used as a fungicide, insecticide, miticide and nematicide. Potassium silicate should be used as a broad spectrum, preventative fungicide with optimum control obtained when used under a scheduled preventative spray program. Potassium Silicate also provides suppression of mites, whiteflies, and other insects. It is approved for use on agricultural crops, fruits, nuts, vines, turf and ornamentals.
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2. Datnoff, L.E., et al., “Influence of Silicon Fertilizer Grades on Blast and Brown Spot Development and on Rice Yields,” Plant Disease, October 1992, pp. 1011-1013.
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5. Miyake, Y. and E. Takahashi, “Silicon Deficiency of Tomato Plant,” Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 24, 1978, pp. 175-189.
6. Schmidt, R.E., et al., “Response of Photosynthesis and Superoxide Dismutase to Silica Applied to Creeping Bentgrass Grown Under Two Fertility Levels,” J. Plant Nutrition, 22