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Oct 2023 | Article

Silicon improved wheat reduces slug damage

A recent study by i2L has shown that applying Sirius, a silicon biostimulant, boosts the natural level of silicon in wheat seed and strengthens the plant. Planting this silicon enhanced farm saved seed has also shown that the following seedlings are stronger and more resilient to attack. 

“Through a series of trials Orion FT has deonstrated that applying Sirius can improve plant health and quality. Silicon is a natural element which plants actively take up to help improve cell strength, cell adhesion, and increase cuticle thickness, all of which improve plant health making crops more resilient to pests such as slugs,” explains Orion FT managing director James Kennedy.
James Kennedy - Managing Director

Previous trials using silicon to strengthen OSR showed a reduction in cabbage stem flea beetle, whilst a similar study showed aphid reduction in sugar beet when silicon levels were increased. 

“Silicon improves plant resilience to environmental stress and the trial data showed that plants treated with Sirius also accumulated more silicon in seed. The resulting increase of silicon in the seed translates to more silicon in the crop grown from that seed. This is a major breakthrough and will offer a new benefit for those using Sirius,” he adds. 

In the trial, seedlings grown from wheat treated with Sirius, that had higher levels of silicon, were compared to an untreated sample. Slug feeding reduced from 65 percent to 45 percent.

“We also looked at the effect of spraying the emerging crop with silicon to create a physical barrier. This reduced feeding on the untreated seed sample to 32 percent, but the seed taken from the previous crop with higher silicon levels reduced slug feeding to just 23 percent, almost a third of the damage seen in the untreated crop,” he says. 

By applying Sirius at traditional fungicide timings in the spring, growers can improve plant health and seed quality. Drilling seed from a crop treated with Sirius and subsequently spraying it post-emergence with silicon showed the greatest benefit to early season crop management when slugs were a threat.

“We recommend applying Sirius at a rate of half a litre per hectare, at an approximate cost of £20 per application. To benefit in the early autumn, apply soon after crop emergence at growth stage 11-13, follow up applications can be beneficial.  Sirius does not alter the pH of a solution, so it is easy to tank mix which eliminates the necessity for multiple spray passes,” he concludes.

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