Gypsum is a very soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dehydrate. Recently, there was a presentation made in Soil Improvement Symposium where latest research and practical insights into using gypsum in Agriculture.
It was pointed out that gypsum’s usage in agriculture could be beneficial in many ways because gypsum is an excellent source of calcium and sulfar. It was explained how gypsum helps improve soil structure.
A few highlights taken from this Symposium are as follows:
While farmers have used gypsum (calcium sulfate dehydrate) for centuries, it has received renewed attention in recent years. Many benefits could be accrued to agriculture using gypsum.
Gypsum’s usage can improve soil structure, reduce nutrient runoff and more.
Five key (and overlapping) benefits of gypsum were highlight at the symposium – these are: Gypsum can act as a source of calcium and sulfur for plant nutrition. According to one soil scientist, “Plants are becoming more deficient for sulfur and the soil is not supplying enough of it”. Therefore, Gypsum is an excellent source of sulfur for plant nutrition and Therefore, Gypsum is an excellent source of sulfur for plant nutrition and
improving crop yield. Meanwhile, calcium is essential for most
nutrients to be absorbed by plant roots. Calcium helps stimulate root
growth and without adequate calcium, uptake mechanisms would fail.
Gypsum improves acid soils and treats aluminium toxicity. The biggest advantage of using gypsum could be its ability to reduce aluminium toxicity, which often accompanies soil acidity, particularly in subsoils. Gypsum can improve some acid soils even beyond what lime can do for them. Surface-applied gypsum leaches down to the subsoil and results in increased root growth.
Gypsum also improves soil structure – flocculation or aggregation is needed to give favourable soil structure for root growth and air and water movement. Gypsum has been used for many years to improve aggregation and inhibit or overcome dispersion in sodic soils. In soils having unfavourable calcium-magnesium ratios, gypsum can create a more favourable ratio.
Usage of gypsum also improves water infiltration. Gypsum also improves the ability of soil to drain and not become waterlogged due to a combination of high sodium, swelling clay and excess water. By applying gypsum to soil it allows water to move into the soil and allow the crop to grow well.
Gypsum helps reduce run off and erosion. Agriculture is considered to be one of the major contributors to water quality, with phosphorus run off the biggest concern. Experts explained how gypsum helps to keep phosphorus and other nutrients from leaving farm fields. According to one scientist, “Gypsum should be considered as a Best Management Practice for reducing soluble P losses”.