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Silica Availability in Soils And River Water in Two Watersheds on Java Island, Indonesia

Kuniaki SATO and Tsugiyuki MASUNAGA


Silicon is a beneficial element for rice plants and is one of the major factors affecting the sustainability of rice production. We investigated silica (Si) availability and dynamics in soils of sawah, other land uses, and also in river and canal water in two watersheds in Citarum and Kaligarang, Java Island, Indonesia. The term sawah refers to a leveled and bounded rice field with an inlet and an outlet for irrigation and drainage, respectively. In the present study, we examined Si content in soils, plants and river water in relation to factors influencing the Si content, such as parent material and land use. The available Si content in sawah was found to be deficient at two sites and low at 10 sites out of 16 sites investigated in the Citarum watershed. In the Kaligarang watershed, no sawah site was classified as deficient and nine out of the 15 sawah sites were determined to be low for rice plant growth. A survey of Si content in rice flag leaves in some selected rice fields showed that seven out of 12 samples had contents less than 125 g SiO2 kg1; these rice samples with low Si contents were those in sawah classified as low in Si contents. In the Citarum watershed, sawah soils developed from the accumulation of lake and clay sediment contained relatively little available Si, while sawah soils in the Kaligarang watershed that were mainly developed from tuff and volcanic ash contained relatively more available Si. In the Citarum watershed, the type of land use influenced Si availability in the soils via a large amount of litter accumulation of pine trees in the case of pine plantations, and acidification in the soils in the case of tea plantations and maize fields. In general, the Si content in river and canal water was higher in the Kaligarang watershed than in the Citarum watershed, and this appears to be affected by the type of parent material. In addition to the type of parent material, Si depletion occurring in dams might also influence Si content in the lower stream of river or canal water in the Citarum watershed.

Key words: available silica, parent material, rice, sawah, silica deficiency.
Makalah diterbitkan pada Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition (2008) 54, 916927

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