Interaction between silicon cycling and straw decomposition in a silicon deficient rice production system
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Background and aims
Rice plants (Oryza sativa L.) contain large quantities of silicon (Si) in form of phytoliths, which increase their resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. The Si cycle through rice fields is hardly studied. We tested how increasing Si availability affects rice growth and the decomposability of the straw. Secondly we tested the role of straw recycling for Si availability.
In a field experiment, we applied three levels of silica gel during one rice cropping season. In a follow-up laboratory experiment, we used straw produced in the field experiment, having different Si concentrations, and studied straw decomposition, straw Si release, and Si uptake by plants.
Silicon fertilization increased Si contents, biomass production, and grain yield of rice plants. Increased Si uptake by rice decreased concentrations of C and some essential nutrients (N, P, K, Ca, and Mg) in the straw, and increased straw decomposability and Si release.
Fertilization with silica gel is an option to improve Si supply to rice plants growing on weathered soils with low levels of plant-available Si. Phytoliths from fresh rice straw dissolve fast in soil, thus, recycling of rice straw is an important source of plant-available Si.
KeywordsPaddy soils Phytolith dissolution Rice straw decomposition Rice straw recycling Silicon fertilization Vietnam
This work has been financed by the LEGATO project of the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). We thank the coordinator of the project, Josef Settele, for his support. We thank Nguyen Hung Manh for the field work and Alexandra Boritzki, Aleksey Prays, Susanne Horka, Andreas Rämmler, Jutta Fröhlich, and Bernd Apelt for technical assistance. We thank the farmers for allowing us to establish the experiment on their paddies.
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