Silicon (Si) is one of the most abundant elements found in the earth's crust, but is mostly inert and only slightly soluble. Agriculture activity tends to remove large q uantities of Si from soil. Sugarcane is known to absorb more Si than any other mineral nutrient, accumulating approximately 380 kg ha -1 of Si, in a 12-month old crop. Sugarcane (plant growth and development) responses to silicon fertilization have been documented in some areas of the world, and applications on commercial fields are routine in certain areas. The reason for this plant response or yield increase is not fully understood, but several mechanisms have been proposed. Some studies indicate that sugarcane yield responses to silicon may be associated with induced resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, such as disease and pest resistance, Al, Mn and Fe toxicity alleviation, increased P availability, reduced lodging, improved leaf and stalk erectness, freeze resistance, and improvement in plant water economy. This review covers the relationship of silicon to sugarcane crop production, including recommendations on how to best manage silicon in soils and plants, silicon interactions with others elements, and laboratory methodology for determining silicon in the soil, plant and fertilizer. In addition, a future research agenda for silicon in sugarcane is proposed.
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