By Philip A. Wheeler, Ph.D.
First, a discussion of the issues involved. Since potassium silicate is composed of natural elements, the issue of being a synthetic, carbon based, toxic material similar to a pesticide is a non-issue. The next issue is that of being “manufactured”, thereby consuming “energy” in its creation. This is a philosophical issue and not a scientific/factual one, so therefore I can only give my opinion as to its validity. My opinion is that it is a nice “goal/aspiration”, but the acceptance of that premise leads to the non-use of useful/valuable and yes, sometimes essential materials. This wouldn’t be the case if every organic grower around the globe had the same virgin, high organic matter, mineral rich, balanced, biologically active, non-contaminated soil, pristine water and perfect weather. It also wouldn’t be a problem if all organic production resulted in nutrient dense, brix at the top of the currently used scale, disease preventing food when consumed as part of a balance diet accompanied by pure air and water.
Neither of the above situations exists to even a moderate degree. In fact, they would be found in very rare occasions. That means that growers struggle under most conditions to create a soil and produce a crop that can defend itself against polluted air, polluted water, insect, nematode and disease attack. When they do succeed in not having to use any rescue materials of any kind, much of the production is still lower in brix (reduced flavor, health benefits, shelf life), than the known achievable results using a combination of methods that are biological and sustainable, but may include materials that are not on the NOP approved list. Regretfully, many foods grown using conventional agriculture, including the use of rescue chemistry have higher nutritional status, but end up with a higher level of toxins, negating the better nutrition. The situation is improving do to market forces, but a large percentage of organic growers, especially smaller ones, do not soil test on a regular basis or at all and do not remineralize of bio-activate either. When these soils are tested, the bio-availability of the major nutrients is very low and the common essential trace minerals may be at or below the detectable levels.
One does not have to resort to NPK fertilizers to get those nutrients along with the calcium, magnesium and sulfur. There are natural deposits and sources to cover NPK for the soil. Broad spectrum trace mineral deposits are also available for achieving that goal. Bacterial products have been available for years and now composts and teas are becoming more common. However, the major source of potassium for organic use is K2SO4 [0-0-50.] This is now very high priced in the marketplace, and in my opinion, priced way beyond production costs plus a reasonable profit. Manures or composts are a much better source, but of limited availability in many areas. The only low cost, organic liquid K approved for foliar feeding is a weak solution of 0-0-50. The price goes way up as soon as you make organically approved chelated liquid K’s
Old soils have been heavily depleted of Silica Si. Not too many growers can afford to haul in new unfarmed sources of sand or sandy loam top soils. Very heavy soils [high CEC’s] can be uneconomical to bring up to proper percentages of K from 0-0-50. A great deal of research shows excellent response to both foliar K and Si. A major portion of the BioDynamic approach is based on the importance of spraying Si as the prime atmospheric energy system. Much of our current problems such as production peaks, susceptibility to diseases and insects due to weakened immune systems, lodging, etc. good be greatly aided by having a soluble source of silica. Fruit, berry and vegetable growers would find it especially useful. Having it combined with potassium almost doubles the benefit as K runs most enzymatic plant systems.
Therefore, I would hope that potassium silicate could be approved under the NOP standards. I know it would add a great deal to the ultimate goal of producing high yields of nutrient dense food, with profit to the grower, and health and nutrition to the consumer, whether livestock or human.