As an agricultural amendment, gypsum has good amounts of calcium and sulfur and helps with soil stability.
Warren Dick has worked with gypsum for more than two decades. You’d think he’d be an expert on drywall and plastering because both are made from gypsum. But the use of gypsum that Dick studies might be unfamiliar to you: on farmland.
“Gypsum is a good source of both calcium and sulfur, which crops need for good yields,” says Dick. “We also found that it improves many other soil characteristics. Gypsum helps soil better absorb water and reduces erosion. It also cuts down on phosphorus movement from soils to lakes and streams and improves the quality of various fruits and vegetables, among other benefits.”
Gypsum is a mineral that is naturally found concentrated in various places and can be mined out of the ground. But Dick’s research focuses on gypsum recovered from coal-fired electricity generating power plants.
Gypsum that comes from coal plants is called flue-gas desulfurization gypsum, as it comes from the process that ‘scrubs’ sulfur out of the smoke stacks to reduce air pollution. “The gypsum that is recovered has good quality,” says Dick. “The gypsum particles are small and uniform in size making them quite reactive. This can be a real benefit in agriculture. We also determined that it is safe for agricultural use through many studies. Reusing it for agricultural purposes, instead of putting it in landfills, provides multiple wins.”
Continue reading at American Society of Agronomy
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