World of Silicon

Dr. Lawrence Datnoff explains how the International Conference on Silicon in Agriculture got its start at the Soil Science Society of America’s 2012 symposium “Silicon Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management,” in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This symposium was sponsored jointly by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America. Participating scientists and agronomists from the United States, Canada, China and Brazil who have researched silicon’s role in agricultural presented their research. One expereince that everyone had in common was how the importance of silicon is often overlooked in soil fertility and crop production as compared to other nutrients.

Dr. Lawrence Datnoff, professor and head of the LSU Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, presented results demonstrating that silicon amendments can suppress foliar and root diseases in crops by curtailing disease progression and limiting severity. According to Dr. Datnoff, enhancing plant silicon uptake with silicon soil amendments can provide crop health benefits beyond what is traditionally thought of as a liming material. He noted that enhanced silicon soil fertility and nutrition may help suppress powdery mildew disease on a wide variety of field and greenhouse crops, especially in soils or soilless mixes low in plant available silicon. He further noted that silicon may suppress plant disease as effectively as some fungicides.

A renowned pioneer in the use of elemental silicon to suppress plant diseases, Dr. Datnoff initiated silicon research programs in Colombia and Brazil with subsequent collaborations with Canada, India and Japan. In addition, he has been instrumental in developing a series of world conferences addressing silicon in agriculture.

He agreed to this videotaped interview just after his symposium presentation.

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World of Silicon

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