Date of Award:

12-2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

Bruce Bugbee

Committee

Bruce Bugbee

Committee

Jeanette M. Norton

Committee

Paul R. Grossl

Abstract

Silicon is not considered an essential nutrient, but it is typically abundant in soils and can be taken up in large amounts by plants. Silicon is known to have beneficial effects when added to rice and several other plants. These effects include disease and insect resistance, structural fortification, and regulation of the uptake of other ions. In this study, the effect of silicic acid fertilization on the growth and drought tolerance of four crop plants (corn, wheat, soybean, and rice) was analyzed. Plants were studied using three cultivation techniques: 1) hydroponic solution and subjected to salt stress, 2) low-silicon soil-less medium (peat) and subjected to gradual drought stress, and 3) low-silicon soil-less medium (peat) and subjected to acute drought stress. Silicon was added both as reagent-grade Na2SiO3 and as a siliceous liming agent (PlantTuff). Both forms of Si generally improved drought and salt stress tolerance, but the effects were inconsistent. Silicon increased corn dry mass by up to 18% and the effect was statistically significant (p

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