Palm Oil Plantation

Why Diatomite?

Maidenwell Diatomite (DE) is a useful amendment both to agricultural soil and to soilless media (potting mixes) used in commercial horticulture.

Diatomite properties:

• low density • insulating
• high porosity • absorptive
• high surface area • high in silica content
• abrasive

Agricultural Benefits

The 3 important benefits of using DE are:

Pest and Diseases

Reduces chemical use by stimulating natural plant defences against common pests and diseases.

Environmental Stress

Increases plant tolerance of environmental stress- drought, water-logging, high and low temperatures and salinity.

Minimises environmental damage caused by fertilisers.

Farm Productivity

Crop yields and quality are increased because of more efficient photosynthesis and improvements in plant and soil health.

How it Works



DE increases soil porosity which assists drainage, water absorption and oxygen availability to roots. In soilless media, DE increases wettability, water retention efficiency and water holding capacity.

Improvements in soil physical properties promote larger, healthier root systems that are more effective at acquiring water and nutrients.



DE has a relatively high cation exchange capacity (CEC) and can decrease leaching losses of fertilisers from the root zone. Nutrients are also held within a biofilm that develops on and inside the porous diatom shell.

Maidenwell DE is a fresh water lake deposit which is low in sodium and chloride. It also has a neutral pH and so does not adversely influence nutrient availability to plants. Rather research indicates that DE can increase the availability of some soil nutrients particularly phosphorus.



Recent research has shown that silicon can stimulate the development of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). These organisms play an important role in soil health and the release to plants of nutrients from organic matter. Soil microorganisms also suppress plant pathogens and activate natural disease and stress resistance mechanisms within the plant.

Silicon is used by plants to strengthen cell walls and membranes. A leaf cuticle reinforced by silicon is a more effective physical barrier to disease organisms and is less palatable to pests. A stronger stem and petiole, delays wilting and permits photosynthesis to proceed for longer in dry conditions.


Although silicon is the second most abundant element on earth, it is deficient in many agricultural soils and almost all soilless media. This is because plants cannot absorb silica (sand) and so rely on biological weathering to solubilise rock and produce the plant available silicon forms of mono- and poly-silicic acid.

Australian agricultural soils are generally low in plant available silicon (PAS) because they are old, highly weathered and low in the organic matter needed to support strong biological activity. Continuous cropping of soils has also depleted them of PAS.

Soilless media are low in PAS because they are largely made from organic waste which has been derived from plants grown in silicon deficient soils.

Maidenwell DE is a low cost, slow release source of PAS. A single application will last for many years and probably decades.

Diatomaceous earth, with its high silica content, has become recognised as an effective way to combat both abiotic and biotic stressors and promote plant growth, development, yield and disease resistance in a wide variety of plant species and countries.

The following benefits have been largely attributed to the increased availability of silicon for plants:

  • Increases plant tolerance of common environmental stresses including drought, water-logging, high and low temperatures and salinity
  • Increases plant resistance to common pests and diseases
  • Improves photosynthetic efficiency
  • Increases water use efficiency
  • Protects plants from heavy metal toxicities such as manganese
  • Stimulates the growth of beneficial soil biology
  • Improves soil structure
  • Improves the resistance of turf to wear
  • Delays wilting in drought conditions
  • Increases the availability of some nutrients particularly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
  • Improves germination of some seed



Maidenwell mines is involved in a number of farm trials designed to quantify the benefits and optimum rates of DE for specific crops and different growing systems.

The current round of trials includes soil grown vegetables, hydroponic berry crops, nursery crops and sports turf.

We are currently awaiting trial results, please contact us to be notified when these results are available

Non-Agricultural Uses

Diatomite is used in many different ways, and is found in, or crucial to, the manufacturing process of thousands of everyday products.

Filter Aids

  • Food and beverage processing
  • Beer and wine making
  • Motor oil processing
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing


  • Useful in the clean up of spills in the industrial, janitorial, waste and automotive industries


  • In plastics, diatomite is used as an antiblocking agent to assist with separating
  • In paint it can be used to add bulk, strength and coating adhesion

Find out more

Get in touch to find out how Maidenwell can help provide
you with high quality diatomite and volcanic ash

  • Dan Heppell
    +61 459 073 213
  • LOT 1 Brooklands Pimpimbudgee Rd,
    Maidenwell QLD 4615