Apply Gypsum This Fall For Next Year’s Crop

Brad Brown, a no-till farmer from Center Point, IN, started applying gypsum to his fields in 1986. He applies 1,400 pounds of gypsum every other fall, ahead of corn.

Applying gypsum in late fall is a common practice among crop farmers in order to build soil structure and replenish sulfur for the next year’s crop.

“We first started using gypsum to loosen our clay soils for better drainage and rooting,” says Brown. “Getting sulfur with gypsum gives the next corn crop a boost. It is like a double-whammy!”

With broader availability of synthetic gypsum from power utilities and other manufacturing plants, gypsum application has expanded over the years. According to one industry study, gypsum use among no-tillers has nearly quadrupled since 2008.1

Gypsum (CaSO4 • 2H2O) contains 17-20% calcium and 13-16% sulfur. This equates to roughly 400 pounds of calcium and 320 pounds of sulfate-sulfur for a typical application rate of 1 ton per acre, according to Ron Chamberlain, chief agronomist for GYPSOIL/BRM, a Chicago-based company that markets GYPSOIL brand gypsum.

“Agricultural crops generally need 30 to 70 lbs./acre of sulfur depending on the species,” Chamberlain says.

In the past, farmers like Brown often relied on the “free” sulfur Mother Nature delivered in rainfall. However, as coal-fired utilities and other manufacturing plants have installed modern scrubbing systems to prevent acid rain, atmospheric sulfur deposits have declined. Newer generations of fertilizers and pesticides also supply less incidental sulfur. In addition, higher yielding hybrids remove a great deal of sulfur without replacing it.2

Joe Nester, a crop consultant and owner of Nester Ag, Bryan, OH, routinely discusses the importance of preventing sulfur deficiency with his clients.

“Levels of 10 years ago averaged 30 + ppm soluble sulfur in our soil tests, and today we are seeing levels of 5 to 8 ppm,” Nester says. “These low levels concern us, as sulfur is a secondary nutrient, right behind N, P & K in crop needs.  It is also increasingly important as your yields continue to climb.”

In order for plants to benefit from added sulfur, it must be in sulfate form. Gypsum is a ready-made sulfur source for crops, explains Chamberlain. “It goes onto the field with sulfur already in the sulfate form,” he says.  Elemental sulfur, on the other hand, requires oxidization by soil bacteria to SO4 or sulfate before it is available. This process also produces acid and drives down the pH.

But what happens to the sulfate over the winter after fall applications of gypsum? Research and practical experience point to strong evidence for gypsum’s staying power.

Researchers at The Ohio State University’s School of Environment & Natural Resources demonstrated in a 2006 study that the sulfate in gypsum remains available in the upper soil profile six months after the last application.3 (See chart)

Researchers at the Ohio State University applied gypsum at rates of zero, 1,500 and 3,000 lbs/acre over two years then took sulfate measurements at various soil depths six months after the last application. They observed that 75-420 ppm of sulfate sulfur remained in the upper 8” of the soil.3
Researchers at the Ohio State University applied gypsum at rates of zero, 1,500 and 3,000 lbs/acre over two years then took sulfate measurements at various soil depths six months after the last application. They observed that 75-420 ppm of sulfate sulfur remained in the upper 8” of the soil.3

Other studies provide additional evidence, including an older study in North Carolina documenting the presence of sulfate-sulfur in a silty clay loam soil 200 days after application.4

“We have noticed nice increases in sulfate levels where we apply gypsum, and those levels are holding at 3x to 4x increases 2 to 4 years after application,” says Nester.

Gypsum doesn’t dissolve all at once, notes Chamberlain. Factors including the source, particle size distribution and the environment surrounding the material once it is applied, all play a role.

“In soils that are common in the Midwest – silt, clay and loam types – the movement of gypsum down through the profile tends to be slower than for sandier soils that are not as common,” Chamberlain says.

With lower commodity prices, one of the big enticements for using gypsum as a sulfur source is cost. Pound by pound, gypsum supplies sulfur at a lower cost than elemental sulfur.  “Cost for sulfur in elemental sulfur is six times the cost of sulfur in gypsum at current retail pricing,” Chamberlain says.

It is no wonder why many growers like Brad Brown have settled on gypsum as their sulfur option of choice. “Gypsum is the cheapest form of sulfur we can get and our corn needs sulfur,” Brown concludes.

Download a white paper on gypsum and fall application.  For more information, visit www.gypsoil.com or call 1-866-GYPSOIL (497-7645).

References

1.  No-Till Operational Benchmark Study conducted by No-Till Farmer, Brookfield, WI.
2.  Camberato et al, Soil Deficiency in Corn, Purdue University Department of Agronomy Soil Fertility Update, May 2012.  www.kingcorn.org/news/timeless/SulfurDeficiency.pdf.
3.  Improved Soil Quality and Increased Carbon Credits Through the Use of FGD Gypsum to Enhance No-Tillage Crop Production, Dick et al, April 28, 2006, Ohio State University unpublished report.
4. “Leaching Losses of Sulfur During Winter Months When Applied as Gypsum, Elemental S or Prilled S”, Rhue and Kamprath, Agronomy Journal, Vol 65, No. 4, p 603-605.

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
BlendersYargus Appoints New Plant Manager
September 18, 2014
Steve Shaffer will direct and coordinate daily operations at the company’s Marshall, IL, manufacturing plant, where the Layco line of material handling equipment is produced. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More