Silicon soil amendment as a complement to manage tan spot and fusarium head blight in wheat

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Tan spot, caused by Pyrenophora tritici-repentis, and fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by the Fusarium graminearum species complex, are among the main wheat diseases worldwide. This 3-year field study evaluated the effect of soil incorporation of calcium silicate, a source of silicon (Si), to manage tan spot and FHB and improve grain yield and quality. The effect of Si was compared on two cultivars contrasting in disease resistance and associated with one or two fungicide sprays. Calcium silicate fertilization increased the Si concentration in the soil and wheat leaf and spike tissues. The increase of Si concentration in wheat tissues was associated with reduction in the severity of both tan spot and FHB, consequently increased the quality and grain yield of wheat. The reduction of disease severity conferred by Si was greater for tan spot than FHB. The greatest control of tan spot and FHB was obtained with the moderately resistant cultivar grown in soil amended with calcium silicate (+Si) and treated with two fungicide sprayings. On the other hand, the highest grain yield, under high disease pressure, was obtained in +Si plants, regardless of the cultivar, treated with two fungicide sprays. The results of this study show for the first time that the incorporation of Si in the soil complemented the effect of genetic resistance and fungicide treatments in controlling both tan spot and FHB. Furthermore, results indicate that calcium silicate fertilization is useful as part of integrated management of these wheat diseases.