Gypsum helps alleviate many common field problems faced by Midwestern growers that raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa and other crops.
Midwestern soils - and soils in other areas - are becoming more depleted in sulfur. This is due, in part, because air pollution standards have lowered allowable sulfur emissions. Signs of deficiency have been reported in recent fertilty studies.1 A 2010 University of Wisconsin study found 64% of alfalfa tissue samples to be low in sulfur compared to just 38% a decade earlier. That’s a 68% increase in sulfur deficiency.1 University of Illinois researchers saw some evidence that sulfur applications may achieve a positive response in corn in a study started in 2009. Many crop growers are seeking cost effective sulfur solutions to combat deficiencies. GYPSOIL brand gypsum is an excellent, safe and cost effective sulfur fertility solution that won't acidify soils like some other nutrient sources. According an Economic Impact study by agricultural economists Dr. Marvin Batte and Dr. D.Lynn Forster The value of sulfur in gypsum is more than $16 per acre for a 6-ton alfalfa yield and more than $5 per acre for a 200-bushel corn crop.
1The Fertility of North Amercian Soils, Bulletin Summary, International Plant Nutrition Institute, March 2011.
2 Laboski et al, University of Wisconsin, 2010.
Highly productive soils soak up rainwater quickly and move moisture down through the soil profile so it is available when the crop needs it. Unfortunately, many tight clay Midwestern soils are slow to absorb water and ineffective in storing moisture. In heavy rains, the water runs off or fields may become ponded or water-logged at the surface so the ground stays wet for long periods. When the fields are dry, the soil becomes hard and concrete-like. Because water doesn’t absorb well into the soil, the crop may suffer because it doesn’t have access to moisture deep in the soil profile. Former USDA-ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory scientist Dr. Darrell Norton and others have shown gypsum applications impact soil physical properties leading to improved water infilration. View a video of Dr. Norton speaking at the 2013 Midwest Soil Improvement Symposium.
When soil is hard, tight and impermeable – often the case with Midwestern clay type soils -- valuable moisture runs off or water pools on the surface of the field, damaging crops. In low spots, growers see ponding and marshy, swampy patches. These spots are slow to dry which delays fieldwork and can cause poor root development, nutrient leaching and denitrification.
Denitrfication occurs when soils are very wet and moisture drowns the soil pores, allowing very little room for oxygen to percolate. Soil microbes need oxygen. If depleted, the microbes will use the oxygen portion of nitrite and nitrate forms of nitrogen fertilizer. When this happens, nitrogen gasses are formed and evaporated into the atmosphere. The result is a loss of soil nitrogen the plant can access. This results in yellow or browned-out corn and can lead to significant yield losses because adequate nitrogen is essential for grain fill.
When soils are softer and more water permeable, rainwater soaks in quickly. Excess water moves into drainage tiles more efficiently, rather than running off or ponding. Use GYPSOIL to help your fields better utilize moisture.
Clay soils, especially those with high magnesium content and/or high sodium, are prone to crusting and sealing at the surface following rainfall events. This is because clay particles in soil are easily dispersible or splattered across the soil surface as rainwater pelts the ground. When the water eventually recedes back into the soil, the clay is filtered onto the surface and forms a hard crust.
Crusted soils restrict many things. It is difficult for seedlings to emerge in the early spring when soils are crusted over at the surface. Sealing also traps water just below the surface, like liquid is trapped inside a drinking straw as you hold your thumb over the top. The trapped water won’t evaporate so soils can’t “breath” or move oxygen. That’s detrimental to germination and growth and can lead to denitrification. GYPSOIL helps eliminate crusting and surface sealing.
Soil erosion by water - the loss of soil and sediment - is a serious problem that can have significant negative impacts on agricultural productivity, drainage and surface water quality. Eroded topsoil transfers into streams and other waterways, causing potential surface water quality problems and hydrological damage that can be far-reaching within a watershed. Topsoil losses also reduce agronomic productivity.
Like soil and sediment losses caused by erosion, dispersible soils are prone to nutrient losses through runoff and surface water or tile output. This can cause nonpoint source pollution in watersheds if not corrected. Research shows gypsum applications can help prevent soil and nutrient losses that cost producers in lost productivity and resources.
Compacted soils limit root growth, cause drainage problems and impact nutrient availability. Some soil experts have likened compaction to pushing a load of bricks on the soil’s lungs. Compaction suffocates the soil’s ability to distribute water, air and nutrients. 1
Compaction is a result of equipment traffic and also an indicator of soil health. Many agronomists and growers report that soils become softer and easier to manage over time after gypsum applications. Midwestern soils that are tight and compacted, or saturated with surface water, are a poor environment for root growth. Roots and plants flourish when soil particles allow good flow of moisture, air and nutrients for ideal plant growth and health. GYPSOIL helps improve air and water movement for better root growth.
1 "Soil-Building Tips for Better No-Till Productivity," Special No-Till Management Report No. 32, No-Till Farmer, July 2011, various articles.
Healthy soils should be alive with biological activity, promoting a vibrant habitat for soil organisms to decompose organic compounds such as plant residue, manure and pesticides. The soil organisms fix nitrogen, stabilize nutrients, enhance soil aggregation and porosity and feed on crop pests. In healthy soils, growers see soil test levels of organic matter climb and faster residue breakdown. Healthy soils also attract earthworms that break down residue and burrow into the profile to create air and moisture channels that plant roots can utilize. If soil is compacted and tight, growers may see fewer earthworms. Gypsum users see more earthworm activity deep in the soil profile.