Evolution of foliar Si concentration in response to foliar application of different doses of Si to ‘Arbequina’ and ‘Picual’. Measurements were taken monthly in fully unfolded leaves. Bars represent the standard error of the mean (Expt. 2). Credit: HortScience (2022). DOI: 10.21273/HORTSCI16750-22
Although silicon is not an essential element for plant growth, it does increase plants’ tolerance to biotic stresses such as pests and diseases; and abiotic, such as drought and salinity. The effects of this element, the second most abundant in the earth’s crust, have generally not been extensively studied, and knowledge was even less in relation to olive trees.
Faced with this gap in the scientific literature, the University of Cordoba Arboriculture Group has been a pioneer in reviewing the results that the application of this element can have to olive trees, a crop characterized by low silica accumulation.
The team formed by the researchers of the Unit of Excellence María de Maeztu (Department of Agronomy, University of Cordoba; DAUCO) Ricardo Fernández Escobar, María Benlloch and Kelly Nascimiento has published what will be the basis of forthcoming work on the fertilization of olive groves with silicon as they have defined the most effective dose, the mode of application and its consequences in terms of the uptake, accumulation and distribution of silicon in the plant organs of two varieties: Arbequina and Picual.
Your results will be published in the journal HortScience.
“We applied different doses and quantified how much gets into the plant, in which organs it accumulates,” explained researcher María Benlloch. The results show that silicon accumulation increased in olive trees regardless of cultivar and that it was concentrated in greater proportions in the roots, followed by the leaves.
Although all plants contain this element to varying degrees, it has been proven that an additional dose increases its beneficial effects. In this case, the ideal dose to obtain these benefits, which is not harmful to the olive tree, is 20 mg per liter.
As for the method of application, the suitability of the two methods studied – the application of silicon on leaves and the supply of irrigation water to the plants through the soil – proved to be effective. “These results are very promising because they can be applied to both rain-irrigated and irrigated olive groves; most olive groves are rain-irrigated and it is very common to apply foliar treatments to them,” said Ricardo Fernández Escobar.
The use of this element in plant nutrition as a strategy to support plants against pests, diseases and drought is also beneficial from a sustainability point of view, as it could eliminate the need for other chemical synthesis products harmful to the plant environment.
Taking into account the fact that silicon both stimulates the plants’ internal defenses and forms a physical layer on the leaf (when it reaches the leaf it forms a kind of gel) and protects it from pathogens such as fungi and insects, this study is also carried out carried out suggests the application of foliar application with several annual repetitions to cover all new leaves.
“This study is a starting point that paves the way for future research that will allow us to determine the precise benefits of silicon against different types of stress. We are currently studying it against salinity, water stress and the olive fruit fly,” said Fernández Escobar, who recalled that the effectiveness of this element has already been demonstrated against Spilocaea oleaginea (olive leaf spot), one of the main airborne diseases in olive groves.
Therefore, this work represents a step forward towards sustainable nutrition in olive groves, based on an element that growers currently do not typically include in their fertilization schedules.
Kelly Nascimento-Silva et al, Silicon Nutrition in Young Olive Plants: Effect of Dose, Application Method, and Cultivar, HortScience (2022). DOI: 10.21273/HORTSCI16750-22
Provided by the University of Cordoba
Citation: Identifying the Most Effective Silicon Fertilization Strategy to Boost Olive Tree Defenses (2023, January 19) Retrieved January 19, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-effective-silicon-fertilization-strategy-boost. html
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