Agricultural Gypsum is one of the rare substances that is majorly used in soil treatment. It is a material that is effective for soil amendment, soil conditioner and as fertilizer. Gypsum is chemically known as Calcium sulfate (CaSO4).
The structure of the soil is one of the factors that usually affect the crop yield. Gypsum is a cost effective way of improving the soil structure. It leads to higher crop yield at a minimum cost. The usage of gypsum for soil amendment is highly undervalued when compared to fertilizer.
Advantages of using Gypsum for Soil Amendment.
Gypsum prepares the soil for no-till management – The application of gypsum provides a no-till soil management. It is a good procedure for preparing the land for planting. It improves the soil permeability and aggregation which enable the surface-applied fertilizers to easily penetrate the soil.
It decreases the loss of Nitrogen to the air – Gypsum contains calcium which helps to reduce the loss of ammonium nitrogen. The application of ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonia, UAN etc increases the amount nitrogen in the soil but it can gradually decreases by volatilization loss. The calcium in the gypsum precipitates carbonates which form a complex calcium salt with ammonium hydroxide. This helps to prevent the loss of nitrogen compounds to the atmosphere. Also, calcium also aids the uptake of nitrogen by root of plants.
It helps to prevent water run-off and erosion – Gypsum increases the soil absorption rate nutrients and water. It also improves the soil hydraulic conductivity. As a result, this helps to protect the soil against excess water run-off and erosion.
It improves the soil structure – Gypsum contains calcium which is needed to flocculate clays in soil. Soil flocculation is the process by which small clay particles in soil are bound together to form bigger particles. This process helps to improve the soil structure, thereby, allowing air and water to move easily. It also eases the growth of plant roots.
It prevents the soil from water logging – Gypsum enables the soil to drain easily and not become waterlogged. This is due to the mixture of sodium, excess water and swelling clay in the soil. The improvement in hydraulic conductivity and infiltration rate allows the soil to have adequate drainage and prevent it from waterlog.
Gypsum helps the soil to have stable organic matter – As stated earlier that gypsum is a good source of calcium to the soil. And calcium is highly needed in binding organic matter to clay in the coil. The bond between the organic matter and clay in the soil allows the stability of soil aggregates. Gypsum increases the value of organic matter when applied to the soil.
Other benefits of using gypsum in soil amendments include:
- Gypsum increases the sulfate level of soil
- It decreases the ph of sodic soils
- Gypsum makes the water-soluble polymer soil conditioners more effective
- It helps to regain sodic soils
- Gypsum decreases the toxicity of heavy-metals in the soil
- It decreases the toxic effect of NaCl salinity