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Silicon boosts sustainable rice production

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London, April 29 (IANS) By enhancing the resistance against pests, pathogens and abiotic stresses such as salts, drought and storms, silicon (Si) plays a crucial role in the development of sustainable rice production systems with lower or zero input of harmful pesticides, says a study.
Si is the second most abundant element on the earth’s crust after oxygen and the new findings suggest availability of this element can determine health of rice plants.

Irrigation water, as against rain water, can provide a considerable amount of the Si that is taken up by plants, the findings by researcher Thimo KlotzbAcher from the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences – Soil Science, University of Halle in Germany and colleagues showed.

Another major source of plant-available Si is the dissolution of solid soil particles.

The researchers from the interdisciplinary LEGATO project on sustainable rice production looked in more detail at the cycle of plant-available Si in contrasting regions of Vietnam and the Philippines to provide insights on the importance of this element on rice production.

The data from Laguna province of the Philippines showed that the irrigation water can provide a considerable quantity of the Si that is taken up by plants.

In rain water, the concentrations of Si were below the detection limit of the analytical method, and thus the researchers assumed that rain is not an important Si source for plants.

Recent literature suggests that the recycling and decomposition of rice straw plays a crucial role for Si availability. The farmers should therefore recycle the straw completely, the researchers suggested.

The study appeared in the journal Plant and Soil.

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