When coupled with the correct technology, diatomaceous earth or natural amorphous silica can have a significant beneficial impact on the physical, chemical and biological processes of soil, water and the growth of crops. The biogeochemical cycle of silica is even more intensive than the Phosphorus or Potassium cycle in the terrestrial ecosystem.
The biogeochemical reactions and technology can be adapted to address other agricultural problems such as salinity, water deficiency, water toxicity, heavy metal toxicity, soil pH extremes and chemical leaching. The agricultural practices of today have destroyed the vital balance of the soil system and the ability of the soil-plant system to function effectively. Silica is vital for an effective soil-plant system but has been critically deficient in agriculture for decades and this has led to a number of negative consequences. The lack of high grade amorphous silica has a massive effect on circumstances directly relevant to food production such as the amount of fertilizer required for maximum production, crop resistance to abiotic stresses (temperature, water deficiency, wind, salt, heavy metals, hydrocarbons etc) and biotic stresses (insect, disease, fungi etc).
Agricultural Natural Silica
Not all silica products are the same, some are high quality, some are low quality and some can have a negative effect in agriculture. In order to be beneficial in agriculture any amorphous silica product must:
1. Provide a high level of water-soluble silica
2. Have a high level of residual silica.
3. Contain beneficial trace elements.
4. Contain no toxic levels of any element, pollutants or heavy metals.
5. A high level of plant available amorphous silica, if the silica you are currently buying or are considering has low solubility then it is going to have little or no benefit to the plant at all.
Many Diatomaceous Earth amorphous silica products meet some of these requirements however, very few meet them all. Some products have high levels of silica but the silica is low in plant availability. Other products have high levels of plant available silica but it is contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins.
Natural Silica provides the plant with energy and reinforces the plant’s ability to protect itself against biotic and a-biotic stress, and soil treated with Natural Silica will have optimal fertility through improved water, physical and chemical properties and by allowing nutrients in the soil, such as phosphorus, to remain in a plant available form.
All crops benefit from silica nutrition.
Benefits for growers
Natural silica significantly increases crop yield which means increased revenue for growers. Natural silica provides the plant with energy and reinforced its ability to protect itself against stress. Soil treated with DE will have optimum fertility through improved water, physical and chemical properties and by allowing nutrients in the soil, such as phosphorus, to remain in a plant available form.
Increased production yields
All crops benefit from silica nutrition and when used as recommended, typically average a 15% to 35% increase in yield within the first season. Crops such as rice and sugarcane, which can take up more silica than nitrogen, typically average a 20% to 70% increase in yield.
The following photos show the benefits of using diatomaceous earth on crops at an early stage.
Corn at 18 days with DE
Corn at 18 days without DE
This photo shows increased growth with the use of natural silica (diatomaceous earth).
This photo compares one month old grapefruit seedlings – on the right are two seedlings that have had the benefit of diatomaceous earth (natural silica).