Silicon-rich CROSSOVER Benefits from Silicon’s New Designation As Beneficial Element by AAPFCO

Harsco Metals & Minerals has announced that its line of calcium silicate products – to be marketed under the brand name CrossOver – will benefit from Silicon’s (Si) new designation as a “plant beneficial substance” by the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO). Silicon formulations that meet AAPFCO’s standard for plant available silicon can now be listed on fertilizer labels with the new designation backed by an established protocol for product quality, production, and accurate labeling for commercialization of silicon fertilizers.

Harsco is a leader in the manufacturing of silicon-based products with recovery and extraction processes that convert industrial byproducts from steel slag into ecologically sustainable products. As of 2013, Harsco has launched a key business venture to introduce the company’s CrossOver line of products to the ag, hort and turf industries. Harsco’s recovery and extraction process of recycling steel slag into silicon-based soil amendments offers the agricultural industry a reliable source of high quality silicon.

“This conversion of what is essentially a waste product from steel manufacturing into a vital agricultural product is a win-win scenario for the steel industry as well as growers looking for solutions to problematic soil nutrient deficiencies,” says Steve Miranda, Global Market Manager for Agriculture and Turfgrass for Harsco. “Silicon deficiency in the soil profile is often a limiting factor to crop yield and quality that affects many crops and many soil types on a global basis. Science has proven it.”

Prominent agronomists and soil scientists recently participated in a joint symposium of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also referred to as the Tri-Societies Conference, researchers concluded that trial data and anecdotal evidence has shown that supplementing soils with plant available silicon can suppress disease, reduce pest damage, minimize the effects of environmental stress and ultimately increase crop productivity. 

Dr. Emanuel Epstein, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis is a pioneer in the study of silicon and a noted international authority. “Despite the fact that silicon is largely ignored in plant physiology studies, there is abundant evidence that shows silicon can promote healthy, productive plants by minimizing losses due to biotic and abiotic stress,” he reported.

Many other researchers agree silicon soil amendments can suppress foliar and root diseases in crops. Disease progression is curtailed and severity is dramatically reduced by the addition of silicon, according to Dr. Lawrence Datnoff, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Louisiana State University.

“Silicon amendments can provide crop health benefits beyond what is traditionally thought of as a liming material,” Datnoff said. “Enhanced soil fertility and nutrition may also help suppress powdery mildew disease on a wide variety of field and greenhouse crops, especially in soils or soilless mixes low in plant available silicon and may even suppress plant disease as effectively as some fungicides.”

The key measurement of AAPFCO’s designation is “plant available” silicon. Formulations of silicon differ in terms of solubility and plant uptake. Until recently, the industry had not developed a reliable, practical method of measuring plant available silicon.

Dr. Mary Provance-Bowley, Global Technical Development Manager with Harsco Metals & Minerals, explained the science and timeline behind the development of a method that AAPFCO ultimately endorsed.

“The first challenge for the industry was to come up with a reliable measurement,” she said. “As a result of collaborative effort, scientists developed a 5-day soluble Si extraction method of measurement for plant available silicon. After scientific review, AAPFCO approved it in February 2012 as an accurate method for determination of soluble silicon concentrations in non-liquid fertilizers.”

Prior to AAPFCO approval, all silicon products were listed on fertilizer labels as a “non-plant food ingredient”. With the new designation, manufacturers can now identify qualifying formulations of silicon as a “plant beneficial substance” – an important distinction.

A “plant beneficial substance” is defined as any substance or compound other than primary, secondary, and micro plant nutrients that can be demonstrated by scientific research to be beneficial to one or more species of plants, when applied exogenously.

The new label designation is a significant marketing opportunity for Harsco, according to Miranda. “We have a superior quality formulation of silicon derived from a byproduct of the steel industry,” he says. “We’re uniquely positioned to help the steel industry with environmental remediation efforts while providing growers access to a product to improve crop productivity. We are currently looking at worldwide opportunities to introduce this exciting line of silicon based products from our recovery and extraction process.”

Tags: #spring2015, calcium, crop, CROSSOVER, department of agriculture, fertilizer, harsco, magnesium, plant, regulatory approval, silicate, soil,

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