What does gypsum do for soil? | 10 benefits of agricultural gypsum
Agricultural gypsum as a soil conditioner contains high quality and natural calcium sulfate dihydrate among other special materials useful for use in agriculture. Agricultural gypsum is listed as an organic soil conditioner for use in organic agriculture by the Organic Materials Research Institute (OMRI).
Calcium sulfate as a soil conditioner delivers the following benefits:
1- Soil Health – Agricultural gypsum as a soil conditioner is a vital part of a proper nutrient plan, along with other soil health management practices, such as crop rotation, cover crops, mulching, no till, and pest management. For overall soil health management, calcium sulfate has many properties that ultimately help soil to be more efficient and more productive.
2- Conserves Irrigation Water – With enhanced water infiltration and soil health, roots grow deeper. Research has shown that plants may require up to 30% less irrigation water while maintaining or improving yields. Less water equals less expense and a reduction in overall pressure on water supplies.
3- Improves Soil Structure – Agricultural gypsum can improve soil health by helping aggregate soil particles into small clumps. These clumps loosely aggregate together creating pore spaces that allow water to infiltrate. After treatment with this product, your soil will hold more water.
4- Remediates Sodic (Salty) Soil – Sodic (salty) soils are characterized by poor drainage, poor structure and crusting due to a high level of sodium ions on clay particles that cause the soil particles to disperse. Calcium sulfate can be used as an amendment to improve soil health by replacing the sodium with calcium. The calcium allows the soil to be leachable which improves the soil and promotes better crop growth.
5- Reduces Cracking – Cracking of soil is common with the swelling and shrinking associated with high levels of exchangeable sodium on montmorillonite type clay particles. When gypsum is applied to soil, sodium is replaced by calcium on these clays. The clay particles swell less and do not easily clog the pore spaces. Less swelling allows roots, air, and water to move easily through the soil.
6- Reduces Compaction – Soil compaction can be a major problem that hampers soil health. Natural surface compaction in many soils can be alleviated with calcium sulfate. In areas with high levels of compaction, a combination of agricultural gypsum with deep tillage can be a highly effective way to break up compaction.
Soils that have been treated with agricultural gypsum have a wider range of soil moisture levels where it is safe to till without risk of compaction.
7- Improves Water Infiltration – Agricultural gypsum, when applied directly to the soil or added to irrigation water, improves infiltration rates and hydraulic conductivity of the soil. Because the soil is better able to drain, it is less likely to become water logged due to clay swelling, excess water or high sodium levels.
8- Reduces Crusting – Soil crusting hampers seed emergence. Crusting gives soil an impenetrable surface. This happens when unaggregated clay particles settle and seal the surface and dry into a cement-like crust. With agricultural gypsum, soils aggregate better, crusting is reduced, and overall soil health improves.
9- Provides Calcium and Sulfur – Agricultural gypsum as a soil conditioner contains calcium and sulfur and is highly soluble and thus available to the plant, providing these essential micronutrients as the plant needs them.
10- Improves Crop Yield – With all of the benefits that it has for soil health, the end result is more sustainable soil that will produce healthier crops and improve yields.