New way for a sustainable nutrition in the olive grove from the use of silicon

The article “Silicon Nutrition in Young Olive Plants: Effect of Dose, Application Method, and Cultivar”, has been published by the Arboriculture group of the University of Córdoba in HortScience magazine. This work is pioneer in the search for the results that the application of silicon can have on the olive tree, a crop that is characterized by its little accumulation of silicon.

The team made up of researchers from the María de Maeztu Excellence Unit – Department of Agronomy of the University of Córdoba. Ricardo Fernández Escobar, María Benlloch and Kelly Nascimiento have published what will be the basis for the next olive grove fertilization work with silicon: they have defined the most effective dose, the method of application and its consequences in terms of absorption, accumulation and distribution of silicon in the organs of the plants of two varieties Arbequina and Picual’.

“We apply different doses and quantify how much enters the plant and in which organs it accumulates,” explains researcher María Benlloch. The results show that the accumulation of silicon in the olive trees increased, regardless of the variety, and that it was concentrated in a greater proportion in the roots and, followed by, in the leaves.

Although, to a greater or lesser extent, all plants have this element, it has been proven that applying an extra contribution increases its beneficial effects. In this case, the appropriate dose to obtain these benefits and that is not harmful to the olive tree is 20 mg per liter. Regarding the application method, the suitability of the two studied methods was verified, the application of silicon on the leaves and its contribution to the plant in the soil, through irrigation water.


The use of this element in plant nutrition as a strategy to help plants against pests, diseases or drought is also beneficial from the point of view of sustainability, since it would allow us to stop using other chemical synthesis products that are harmful to the environment.

Taking into account that silicon acts both by stimulating the defenses of plants internally and by creating a physical layer on the leaf (when it reaches the leaf it forms a kind of gel) that protects it against agents such as fungi or insects, this study also proposes the use of foliar application with several annual repetitions to gradually cover all the new leaves.

“This study is a starting point that establishes the bases for future research that will allow us to know the exact benefits of silicon against different types of stress. Right now we are studying it against salinity, hydric stress and olive fly”, points out Fernández Escobar, who also recalls that the effectiveness of this element against repilo, one of the most important airborne diseases of the olive grove, has already been demonstrated.

With this work, progress is made, therefore, in the path of sustainable nutrition in olive groves from an element that, for now, farmers do not usually include in their fertilization plans.


Link to research publication:

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