EnvironmentSustainable crop application to build better soils and improve plant growth
Improve soil properties: Gypsum can improve the physical and chemical properties of soils optimizing soil and plant fertility by enhancing soil structure, nutrient availability and soil health, improve crop performance, improve fertilizer uptake and efficiency, improve land value and reduce nutrient costs.
Reduce land degradation: Demand for increased crop yields to meet global population growth has led to depleted soils. Nearly all U.S. agricultural soil is somewhat degraded and much of the soil is very degraded (USDA, Land Degradation, 2010). Poor soil conditions inhibit plant uptake of important nutrients and reduces fertilizer efficiency. Gypsum supports improved soils.
Reduce environmental pollutants:
A). Gypsum supports sustainability by reducing nonpoint source pollution contributed by agriculture: work by USDA-ARS, indicates mounting data that gypsum can curb erosion, improve water infiltration, decrease runoff, and retain phosphorus in soils.
B). Yara’s research project in Europe “Novel gypsum-based products for farm-scale phosphorus trapping” tested the use of gypsum to trap phosphorus in fields. Studies were done in laboratories and as full-scale field tests. Twenty farmers around Finland provided their fields or manure tanks for testing. The results demonstrate that gypsum is an effective solution for significantly reducing phosphorus leakage from fields into waterways. The solution lies in spreading gypsum on the field. Gypsum dissolves and infiltrates into the soil with water, thereby improving soil structure. Improved soil structure means that the earth better resists rain and melting snow and therefore prevents erosion and phosphorus leakage. Gypsum also improves the plants’ ability to utilize soil phosphorus reserves. In addition to erosion control, we need to focus on manure management. Manure phosphorus should be directed to those fields in which crops would truly benefit from phosphorus applications. Gypsum can also be used in manure tanks. The dissolved phosphorus in slurry will settle onto the bottom of the tank together with solids and can be transported to fields where phosphorus is required. The liquid fraction can be spread on fields where phosphorus fertilization is not required.
C). Berms designed to prevent nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay now contain gypsum, and it’s being studied as one tool for alleviating other large-scale water quality problems.
D). Sulfur in gypsum ties-up nitrogen in soils as ammonium sulfate – reducing nitrogen loss.
Supports no-till conservation practices: The solubility properties of gypsum allow it to readily infiltrate into soils from the surface which supports no-till practices on all soil types.
Supports soil remediation: Gypsum can improve soil and plant fertility by reducing soil crusting, high sodium and high saline/salt levels in soil, petroleum hydrocarbons in soils, the effect of saltwater on soil, soil acidity, and aluminum and other metal levels in the soil and improves clay soils, and drainage, aeration, nutrient retention and texture of soils.