Adding silicon to soil could help protect canola from clubroot, study suggests

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Research out of the University of Alberta (U of A) is showing that adding silicon to soil could help in the battle against clubroot.

The study — which is the first to explore the effects of silicon on the disease in canola — showed that mixing the element with soil reduced overall clubroot symptoms in susceptible plants, by up to 46 per cent.

The experiments revealed that infection was slowed and the formation of galls on the plants was reduced, when silicon, in the form of a water-soluble salt, was added to the soil.

As a result, the treatment also appeared to improve the height, root length, and plant responses to stresses such as drought and extreme heat, even in the presence of the clubroot pathogen.

“The experiment shows the potential benefits of silicon as an effective, economical tool for canola producers,” says PhD candidate and study lead Ananya Sarkar.

Silicon, currently an ingredient in some fertilizers, also has the advantage of being less costly to apply to canola crops than other alternatives such as liming, she adds.

By analyzing silicon’s interaction with the canola plants, Sarkar and her co-researchers are also looking at how the finding could be used to improve clubroot resistance.

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