Proactive optimization of soil chemistry is a task commonly overlooked by agronomic practitioners. Agricultural field assessments have reported depletion of extractable soil silicon (Si) from shallow depths of intensively managed systems. While not recognized as a plant-essential nutrient, Si accumulates in epidermal and vascular tissue of grass leaves, sheaths, and shoots. A field study of Ca/Mg-silicate (SiO3
) pelletized soil conditioner was initiated on a perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne
L. cvs. 1:1:1 Manhattan, Brightstar SLT, Mach 1) athletic field in 2010. Plots were trafficked by a wear simulator weekly, June through Sept. in 2011 and 2012. Canopy quality measures, clipping yield, tissue composition, soil pH, and plant-available soil Si levels were regularly collected over the two-year study. Under intense wear treatment (traffic), perennial ryegrass plots treated annually by granular application of 1220 or 2440 kg Ca/Mg-silicates per hectare showed significantly improved mean canopy density relative to plots receiving equal Ca and Mg as lime. These described Ca/Mg-SiO3
annual application rates coincided with acetic acid extractable soil Si levels > 70 mg kg−1
in the 0- to 8-cm soil depth. Experimental and temporal variability preclude reporting of a critical threshold concentration of leaf Si for improved perennial ryegrass wear tolerance. Future efforts towards this end should sample tissue of plots receiving wear treatment, rather than adjacent, non-worn proxies.
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