Because the biogeochemical cycles of P and Si in temperate lakes are strongly connected by the dynamics of primary producers, it should be possible to influence the former cycle by causing changes in the latter. It is shown using the mathematical model 'Rostherne' that winter levels of ambient Si have a major influence both on spring levels of ambient P and on the summer cyanobacterial maxima. Additions of Si to the lakes could be used for the fine regulation of the biogeochemical balance and may prescribe a recipe for improvement of water quality, as well as a new solution to the problem of eutrophication. Copyright (C) 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.