SILICON FERTILIZER – AN IMPERATIVE SOURCE FOR ENHANCING YIELD AND PHYTOLITH CONTENT OF MAIZE HYBRID IN DESILICATED SOIL (TYPIC RHODUSTALF)A.M. Prabha, P. Christy Nirmala Mary, P. Saravana Pandian, T. Sivakumar and M. Shanthi
Silicon is an important beneficial element for improving the photosynthetic efficiency and stress alleviation in crops. Phytoliths are silicon body accumulated in plant parts (plant stone) through bio-mineralization process and there is a significant positive correlation between Si content and phytolith content of crop materials including the leaves, stems and sheaths. A field experiment was focused on the effect of Soil Test Crop Response based fertilizers with silicon sources on growth, yield attributes and phytolith content of Maize hybrid Co 6 at Arasanur, Sivagangai district, Tamil Nadu under Typic Rhodustalf soil during 2021. The results showed that application of Soil Test Crop Response based N, P2O5, K2O + calcium silicate @ 400 kg ha-1 and potassium silicate @ 1% foliar spray at knee high stage (25th Days After Sowing) and vegetative stage (45th Days After Sowing) performed well in enhancing growth and yield attributes viz., Leaf Area Index (5.95), plant height (228 cm), cob length (24.95 cm), number of grains cob-1 (329), grain yield (6.98 t ha-1), silicon content (6.07%) and phytolith content (1.22%), followed by STCR based N, P2O5, K2O + calcium silicate @ 400 kg ha-1+ silicate solubilizing bacteria @ 5 kg ha-1 and both are on par with each other. However, the treatments T10 and T6 performed better in enhancing the growth and yield attributes of maize hybrid Co 6, the maximum Benefit Cost Ratio (2.28) was noticed in T6 (STCR based N, P2O5, K2O + calcium silicate @ 400 kg ha-1 + silicate solubilizing bacteria @ 5 kg ha-1) should be recommended for maize production successfully in laterite soil (Typic Rhodustalf). In future study, it is advisable to conduct further research with different silicon sources on maize under varied soil and climatic conditions.