A pot experiment was conducted to measure the effect of silicon on phosphorus uptake and on the growth of rice at different P levels. Rice (Oryza sativa L. cv. Akebono) was cultured in Kimura B nutrient solution without and with silicon (1.66 mM Si) and with three phosphorus levels (0.014 mM P, low; 0.21 mM, medium; and 0.70 mM, high).
Shoot dry weight with Si (+Si) in solution increased with increasing P level, while shoot weight without Si (−Si) was maximum at 0.21 mM P, suggesting that +Si raised the optimum P level for rice. +Si increased shoot weight more when P was low or high than when P was medium.
The concentration and amount of inorganic P in shoots increased with increasing P level. +Si did not significantly decrease P uptake by rice at 0.014 mM P, however, uptake at 0.21 and 0.70 mM P was 27 and 30 percent less than uptake with −Si, respectively. In −Si with 0.21 and 0.70 mM P, inorganic P in shoots was more than double the concentration in shoots grown in +Si solutions.
The Si concentration in shoots decreased slightly with increasing P level, although Si uptake was not significantly affected by P. +Si decreased the uptake of Fe and Mn by an average of 20 and 50 percent, respectively, thus P/Mn and P/Fe ratios increased in the shoot when P was low.
From the results above, the beneficial effect of Si on the growth of rice was clearly shown when P was low or high. This effect may have resulted from decreased Mn and Fe uptake, and thus increased P availability within P deficient plants, or from reduced P uptake when P was high.