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

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
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Delivers Two New Winter Wheat Varieties To Eastern Corn Belt
August 6, 2014
Adding to its portfolio of AgriPro brand wheat varieties, Syngenta introduces SY 007 and SY 474 soft red winter wheat varieties. Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FungicidesResearchers Target Soybean Disease With Genetic Resistance Study
August 6, 2014
University of Illinois researchers will share new information on controlling sudden death syndrome through genetic resistance at this year's Agronomy Day. Read More

Trending Articles

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
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
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
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
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. 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
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
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
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces Enlist Ahead App For Enlist…
August 12, 2014
Designed for use with the Enlist Weed Control System, the app is a precision agriculture tool for maximizing weed control performance, managing weed resistance and making responsible applications of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Announces Senior Leadership Team Changes
August 12, 2014
Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Read More