Many agricultural researchers and university specialists support the use of silicon (Si) amendments as part of a management program. Some producers are also beginning to take a hard look at the benefits Si provides. 

Now a highly refined product made up of calcium and magnesium silicate—trade named CrossOver—is commercially available and formulated for the needs of the producer. California approved the use of CrossOver on a number of agricultural crops in late 2013, and most states have followed suit—43 to this point to be exact. CrossOver is approved for monocots only in California. States that have not yet approved CrossOver include Montana, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Illinois.

CrossOver is a product of Harsco Metals and Minerals, part of Pennsylvania based Harsco Corporation. Product information and the latest registration status is available at http://www.crossover-soil.com/.

There are generally two types of plant stress—biotic and abiotic. Biotic, or biological stress, is caused mostly from insects and disease. Abiotic stress falls into the environmental category and includes extreme heat or cold, drought, soil nutrient imbalances and salinity, which all can affect plant function, growth, development and color. Physical elements like weather, for example, cannot be fixed with chemicals, labor or any of the traditional measures designed to remedy biotic stress.

Because most abiotic stresses can’t be controlled, the next logical step is to equip the plant to better withstand these pressures. It is well known that crops grown in suboptimal environments have little chance of gaining their full potential. Studies confirm that successful crop management will depend on the ability of producers to cope with oxidative stress associated with plant abiotic stresses in an economical and environmentally sustainable way. There is a clear need for amendments that can enhance plant tolerance to abiotic stress conditions, according to Harsco Metals and Minerals technical specialists, and the company says CrossOver meets those needs to help enhance plant tolerance.

Following application, CrossOver establishes a reservoir of water soluble calcium, magnesium and Si in the soil that provides unique benefits to any number of crops as well as improves the soil physical characteristics, the company contends.

As Si is released from CrossOver and absorbed by the plant, it “crosses over” from soil to plant and participates in plant biological processes that enhance the ability of crops to resist and tolerate abiotic stresses. Many plants are predisposed for the uptake and use of Si in tolerating stress and in enhancing recovery following stress periods. Failing to provide this element in ample supply produces a plant that is silicon deficient and weak. In other words, the company says plant available Si released by CrossOver plays a key role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of stress response systems.