Silicon Benefits in Turf Grass


Have you ever gone to a golf course and wondered how they care for the grass?  How is it that they are able to maintain such a highly pristine appearance?  How is it that the grass at the golf course is so green all year round?  Whether the course be under conditions of drought, heat, cold, or other unfavorable conditions, it seems that the grass is always green.  One key element to finding out what makes such a significant difference in the health of the grass is silicon.  Silicon helps to prevent the development of gray leaf spot on some types of grass, for example.

Gray leaf spot is a condition that is caused by Magnaporthe oryzae and is a very serious disease that can cause a lot of damage to the health and look of turf grass.  Across the country, there have been several outbreaks of gray leaf spot on the fairways of golf courses.  The grass inside the out of bounds stakes is often just as susceptible to the harmful conditions that so often can ruin the turf grass, making it yellow and patchy in spots.  And who wants to hit their next shot in a patch of dead grass?

For several years, different people in agriculture or in the maintenance of large, public grassy areas have been using silicon to fertilize the grass.  As people have become more and more aware as to the necessity for additional fertilization and addition of silicon, the use of it has been more and more common.  It is a very useful nutrient for healthy growth of all grasses.  Need an example?  Both St. Augustine and Bermudagrass have both shown that they easily and readily absorb silicon, and even more importantly, research shows that it has had a very positive effect on its growth and appearance.

But, what exactly does silicon do for turf and grass health?  Why is it so important for turfgrass?  How is it that it helps it so much?  And why would golf courses place such an emphasis on making sure that there is more than enough silicon available so that the grass stays so green and lush?  These are questions that one can answer if they understand what it is that silicon does for plants.  Back in the 1920s, silicon was shown to help boost resistance and tolerance to certain diseases and even helped increase the size of rice yields.  Studies in Japan, for example, showed an increase in yield from supplementing with silicates of 40 to 400%.  Now, calcium silicate now is commonly applied in rice, sugarcane and other similar crops to help increase yields.

The way that it helps to prevent disease in plants is through helping thicken the cuticle and/or epidermal cells help to inhibit fungal penetration, or put more simply, it helps build up the walls to slow down any sort of disease that might affect the plant.  As it slows any diseases, it also helps to trigger the formation of different compounds that kill fungi.  Also, it helps improve wear that comes from bent grass.  This is something that golf courses are also particularly interested in.  One example of bent grass that they would be interested in combating is from foot traffic.   Golf courses have hundreds of people that are walking across its grounds, and the grass is under a lot of stress from heavy foot traffic.  That is not even counting the golf carts that drive across the grass so often.

Silicon helps to combat these problems, problems like stress from heat or cold, drought, heavy foot traffic, and other plant diseases like gray leaf spot.  Each of us knows that golf courses are dependent largely on whether or not they have grounds that appeal to potential golfers, and as such, they need to make sure that their ground is looking pristine all year round. It’s not just the golf courses that seem to have grass that is always greener, everybody has that one neighbor on the block that they manage to have a perfectly manicured lawn every single year.  Sometimes, you get close to having a lawn like theirs, but never can you quite get to the same level it seems.  Using silicon to fertilize your lawn could be the key to help keep your lawn green and healthy all year round.