Silica has been used for centuries in many different ways and forms. Some of the more common uses are in technology, construction, and agriculture – it is pervasive both in nature and man-made products.
There are lots of myths about silica out there, so we wanted to lay down the facts – and the fiction – about what silica is and how it’s used.
What Is Silica?
The sample shown above displays how silica (the light gray and whitish striations) occurs in areas were bedrock material (like granite, limestone, and other) meet minerals, heavy metals, and sulfides. Wherever you find precious gems, metals will usually be encased in massive veins of quartz, or silica.
Silica is a mineral compound made up of silicon and oxygen (SiO2). It is the seventh most abundant element in the universe and the second most abundant in the earth’s crust, and it is also found in significant amounts in soil.
Large amounts of silica are found in the sand that makes up our ocean’s borders, and it’s also within the quartz crystals of granite, emeralds, and many other types of rock. In addition to its place as a common component of rock, silica is also found in many different kinds of plants and animals.
How Is Silica Used?
Silica has become an incredibly useful material across many different industries, from technology to construction and even agriculture. By changing its shape to suit different purposes, it can be combined with other materials to give them new properties.
You’d be surprised at what silica is used in, like paint, rubber, and plastic. It’s almost everywhere:
- Silica is used in multiple industries from construction to chemicals to glass and in common products such as paint, plastic, and rubber.
- Silica is a trace mineral integral to the structure and functional integrity of connective tissue, and it is a common health supplement that aids in the development of strong bones, skin, and nails.
- Silica absorbs moisture in everything from food packets to shoe boxes and dirty laundry to toolboxes.
Is Silica Good For Plants?
Plants can be categorized into three types in terms of their relation to silica: accumulators, intermediaries, and non-accumulators. These categories describe the extent to which silica is accumulated in the plant’s tissue.
Accumulators have the highest rates of accumulation. While the most significant benefits have been tied to accumulator plants, even non-accumulator plants like tomatoes have demonstrated positive responses to silica’s use in fertilization and growth mediums.
Many peer-reviewed, scientific studies have been done in recent years to determine the effects of silica on plant growth. Although silica is considered a quasi-essential nutrient for most plants, these studies found several critical benefits from its inclusion. Some of the benefits realized include:
- Increased resistance to abiotic stress
- Increased resistance to biotic stress
- The promising role of silica nanoparticles on plants
Silica Improves the Resistance to Abiotic Stress for Plants
Labeled above, the protective structure around each, individual plant cell is called a “cell wall”. Silica has been proven to improve the overall strength and rigidity of this protective shield, which increases resistance to temperature changes and damage caused by many types of pests.
Silica produces a complex reaction in the physiology of plants that creates a dynamic interplay between plant metabolism and cell wall structure.
In perfect conditions, the silica’s effect may be latent. However, with the introduction of an abiotic stressor such as drought, heat, or salt, the results are positive. Stronger stems help keep plants sturdy in wind and rain. Longer roots help to extract water from the soil while the epidermis of the leaves helps to retain some of the water loss that occurs during transpiration.
Silica seems to promote an alkalizing effect in metal-heavy soil, thereby decreasing the concentration in the soil.
This is partially because of the release of antioxidant enzymes that assuage oxidative stress. Leaves of plants with silica exposure also contain higher amounts of chlorophyll.
Silica Improves the Resistance to Biotic Stress in Plants
Silica creates a protective measure against animals, bacteria, and fungi in a couple of ways. One is that the composition of the plant itself becomes less palatable.
A second is that the molecular structure is such that it becomes less digestible. A third protective measure is the ability to entice its predators.
The Role of Nanoparticles in Plants
Sustainable agricultural models and food scarcity have long-standing importance, and silica nanoparticles may play an important role to that end. Through a controlled release into the soil, silica nanoparticles and their counterparts combine to yield healthier, stronger, bigger plants.
In certain plants, this can impact germination, root growth, chlorophyll levels, and more. More research needs to be done in this area, but the current findings show promise.
Can Silica Be Dangerous?
Silica is generally harmless in its most common form and is even used as a health supplement and sold in pill form to strengthen brittle bones, teeth, nails, and hair. Silica can be harmful when turned into a very fine crystalline dust and inhaled.
This may present a risk for people working in specific types of construction or manufacturing, but not gardening or farm management. In use as a silica fertilizer or growth medium, there is no danger from exposure or relating to its application. Products containing silica are to be treated as most other fertilizers and feeders.
How Do I Use Silica for My Plants?
The best way to introduce silica to your plants and crops is through a nutrient solution that will be delivered throughout the entire life cycle of the plant. From seedling to final yield, plants need and will benefit from a silica infusion. It is common to increase the amount of nutrient solution as the plant matures, but be sure to read the product instructions and follow them accordingly.
Silica has an alkalizing effect. Because too much can impact the uptake of other nutrients, make sure the solution is diluted if it calls for it and mixed thoroughly before adding any additional nutrients. Again, follow the instructions and don’t overdo it. The right amount should produce a satisfying harvest.
What Nutrient Solution Is Right for Me?
Harvest Gold Silica Premium Soil Conditioner utilizes the science behind silica and makes iteasy to apply to your garden.
Harvest Gold Organics Premium Soil Conditioner is a unique silica aggregate that contains naturally occurring and beneficial plant nutrients. The multifaceted solution incorporates natural silica and micro and macronutrients, which, when watered, become bioavailable to surrounding plants.
This delivery method of silica and nutrients is unique in not only the initial delivery but also its release over time, which amplifies plant growth throughout the entire season by providing consistent nutrition.
Harvest Gold Organics Premium Soil Conditioner is enriched with not only silica but also calcium, iron, sulfur, magnesium, and other nutrients. It targets and maintains the nutrients vital to plant health in the area needed most: the roots. This results in bigger yields and less work. Perfect for organic gardening with flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs, Harvest Gold is USDA certified, ensures its quality, and guarantees a high spectrum of nutrients.
Silica really is an amazing compound mineral that helps increase resistance to abiotic and biotic stress, resulting in stronger plants and plentiful harvests. Harvest Gold Organics Premium Soil Conditioner contains natural silica and all the other organic ingredients necessary to grow big, strong plants or tasty edibles without using harsh chemical fertilizers that cause damage to the environment and people.
Whether working on an indoor or outdoor project, using a non-toxic, chemical-free solution that feeds continuously without damaging the soil is beneficial to you and your plants. Buy it now or contact us with your questions. We would love to hear from you!