Sulfur deficiency is on the rise. A recent annual summary by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) also suggests that soil tests with low sulfur results are becoming more common versus five years ago.
Soils once got plenty of sulfur from the atmosphere. Electrical plants that burned coal released sulfur into the air and every time it rained, farmland was fertilized with free sulfur. Also, some nitrogen fertilizers contained excess sulfur so fields got a dose of sulfur with those applications. With the advent of flue gas desulfurization and greener, more targeted fertilizers, along with the fact that many of today’s crop genetics may have a higher sulfur requirement, sulfur deficiency may be more common.
Gypsum, used as a sulfur source, raises yields in a variety of crops including cotton, soybeans, corn, alfalfa and others.
GYPSOIL brand gypsum adds sulfur to the soil and it provides highly available calcium that moves deep into the soil profile, a recognized advantage for no-tillers.
Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate
(dry weight basis)
Calcium 17-20 %
Sulfur 13-16 %
Researchers at the USDA-ARS research facility in Oxford, MI, conducted experiments where they applied FGD gypsum to no-till cotton on highly erodible loess soil at rates of 0, 1, 2 and 3 tons/acre for three years. In addition to soil physical property changes, the USDA researchers noted that cotton plant uptake of the nutrients also increased substantially. In a peer-review paper published in February 2011 1 they noted: “The results indicate that FGD gypsum can potentially increase yields of no-till cotton by improving soil water condition s and providing a readily available source of sulfur, a limiting nutrient in many cotton soils.”
1 Influence of FGD gypsum on the properties of a highly erodible soil under conservation tillage, National Sedimentation Lab, ARS, USDA, 2011.
Soil scientists at Ohio State University have completed a comprehensive field guide on the use and benefits of gypsum. To learn more click here.