Intro to Calcium and Silicon

April 05, 2016

Calcium, an essential plant nutrient, is widely recognized for the three critical agronomic roles it plays in plant development:

1 – Soil structure. Calcium is a di-valent cation (2 positive charges). The soil colloids have a net negative charge and can attract and hold cations like calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc. Because of the charge, unique size, and valence of calcium it is able to attract and aggregate soil colloids. This process is referred to as soil flocculation. This positive influence helps improve soil structure. Good soil structure helps assure that roots can reach their potential.

2 – Cell wall strength. Calcium is a key component of plant cell walls and critical for optimum cell wall strength. This process of assimilation into the cell walls occurs during the cell development stage.

3 – Root growth. Roots require optimum nutritional balance in order to be able to exert the force necessary to grow and develop in the root zone. The root tip requires adequate soluble calcium in order for this process to occur effectively. 

Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust after O2. The plant available form of silicon, Si(OH)4, is often found to be extremely low in the soil solution therefore with limited uptake potential. However, silicon is recognized on an ever-increasing scale as a very beneficial plant nutrient. Some of identified benefits of silicon are:

1 – Increased drought stress in plants.

2 – Better uptake and organization of calcium in cell walls. This benefit leads to numerous opportunities to improve crop value.

3 – Reduced biotic stress due to improved cell wall strength and increased antioxidant production in plants. 

A very effective product for calcium and silicon is Mainstay Calcium Si. Mainstay Calcium Si is a reacted plant nutrient high in plant available calcium (10%) and silicon (22%). It works by strengthening cell walls and reducing oxidative stress. It is typically applied at a rate of .25 -1 gallons per acre via foliar application. Optimum timing and frequency are essential to the success of this product. Consultation with a Redox representative or an agronomist experienced with this product is beneficial.


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