Silicon and turfgrass
Turfgrass management on the farm or on the sporting field is always evolving and changing, looking to better the practices used. Studies have found links between certain nutrients, essential and micro, and their ability to hinder disease, pests, or weeds. Silicon is a micronutrient that has been linked to enhanced ball roll, disease suppression and wear tolerance. Read on to find out more about the suggested benefits of silicon application in turfgrass.
What is the plant function of Si?
Silicon rarely exists in its pure form in the soil, it can be found as silicate clay materials and as a part of other nutrients but in these forms it is inaccessible to the plant. Silicon is thought to be introduced as silicic acid and deposited into the plant cell walls creating a barrier that has a stronger and faster defence of enzymes.
How can it aid in turfgrass management?
Studies that have been conducted on varying crop species that highlight the ability of those plants to resist infection and fungal pathogens when Si was applied. Most pathogens of turfgrass infect through the epidermal tissue, therefore strengthening the cell walls make it more difficult for pathogens to penetrate the plant increasing disease resistance.
The strengthening of the plant has many added benefits in addition to disease resistance. Transitions through the seasons, studies have found applications of Si result in improved drought tolerance, as well has alleviate pressures from poor quality irrigation water. It has also been linked to improving tolerance to frost damage.
The strengthening of cell walls and leaf tissue allow cleaner cuts and improved ball roll. The increase in strength to the leaf tissue has also been known to improve wear tolerance and improved the surface in gameplay but also with its ability to photosynthesise.
What are studies saying?
While there are some strong links to the advantages of silicon application in turfgrass management there is still more room for extensive studies to take place to determine what varieties would best benefit, what rates, and what nutrient to be combined with to provide optimal uptake.
With studies linking the advantages of Silicon application with better ball roll, enhanced disease suppression and improved wear tolerance, is this something you will be incorporating into your turfgrass management?
Guertal, E.A. and Datnoff, L.E. (2021). Silicon in turfgrass: A review. Crop Science, 61(6), pp.3861–3876.
Datnoff, L.E. (2005). Silicon in the Life and Performance of Turfgrass. Applied Turfgrass Science, 2(1), pp.1–6.
Guertal, B. (2019). Silicon in Turfgrass. [online] GCSAA Conference. Available at: https://www.gcsaaconference.com/docs/librariesprovider6/2019-documents/2019-free-sessions/monday/turf-solutions-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink/the-role-of-silicon-in-turfgrass-management-by-beth-guertal-phd.pdf?sfvrsn=203fe33e_2.