For those of you who are gardening enthusiasts or simply want to learn about different kinds of plants, it is also important to have some knowledge about fertilizers.
Fertilizers are crucial for improving the soil’s texture and quality, preventing plants from decaying, and increasing crop yield. They supplement the nutrients already present in the soil. Typically, fertilizers consist of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, all of which help improve the soil structure.
Gypsum is a mineral that acts like a fertilizer. Let’s learn more about its properties, uses, and how you can use it in your garden.
What is Gypsum?
Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) is a form of evaporite mineral commonly found in the sedimentary deposits of halite, anhydrite, calcite, sulfur, and dolomite. It contains high amounts of calcium and sulfur, which is why gypsum is also known as calcium sulfate. Often, people confuse gypsum or calcium sulfate with lime, whose chemical name is calcium carbonate.
Gypsum is considered to be the most common sulfate mineral. It commonly occurs in lakes with high salt content, salt pans, limestones, dolomitic limestones, and shales. Large gypsum deposits are found in countries such as Spain, Thailand, and the United States, whereas Russia and Turkey are the world’s largest gypsum producers.
Gypsum is also found in materials such as cement, plaster, wallboards, and soil conditioner. Some known variants of gypsum include alabaster and satin spar, which are often used for ornamental purposes. It is commonly applied to walls in areas with heavy traffic, where the potential of a wall getting damaged is quite high.
Gypsum as an Agricultural Product
The calcium and sulfur composition of gypsum makes it a very useful agricultural product. As a result, the chemical composition of gypsum makes certain nutrients more available to plants as compared to other fertilizers.
It should be noted that gypsum can moderately alter soil pH levels, but it also helps the roots develop faster, particularly in soils with an acidic nature. This is because gypsum counters the toxic impact of aluminum on root growth and development. Though aluminum is not hazardous for crops when the soil has a high concentration of acid, the aluminum present in the soil can harm or even kill the plants in the long run.
Benefits of Gypsum
Apart from the major advantages of gypsum described above, gypsum also offers a wide host of benefits.
Gypsum is moderately soluble in nature. Thus, gypsum’s calcium content can move up or down further into the soil as compared to lime, which also has calcium as one of its primary components. This quality of gypsum obstructs the aluminum present in the soil from spreading further to the roots and helps the plants grow deeper roots into the soil.
Gypsum also helps improve the soil’s structure and quality. It reduces the risk of erosion by increasing aeration and water percolation, which in turn increases the weight of the soil and helps it stay intact. Moreover, gypsum prevents phosphorus, another essential element in soils, from draining out of crop fields.
Gypsum is known to be an important mineral for improving soil quality, preventing soil erosion, increasing crop yield, and adding supplements to the soil, which the plants may not otherwise receive.
In addition, gypsum also helps maintain the soil’s calcium-magnesium ratio, facilitates the natural restoration of the soil’s microbiological composition, and prevents waterlogging by increasing the soil’s ability to drain out excessive water despite the presence of elements such as sodium, swelling clay, and water.
How Long Does Gypsum Take to Break Up Clay Soil?
The process of breaking up clay soil with the help of gypsum can take a couple of months since it is a slow process. Usually, gypsum takes about two or three months to break up clay soil.
Can You Apply Too Much Gypsum to Your Soil?
Yes, you can. Adding too much gypsum to the soil can lead to beneficial elements such as aluminum, magnesium, iron, and manganese getting eliminated. The lack of these nutrients can hinder the growth of plants. So before you add gypsum, you should know how much quantity to add.
How Much Gypsum to Add to Soil?
Before adding gypsum to the soil, it is important to test the soil to determine its pH level and nutrient content. The ideal pH level for most plants is between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil is too acidic, adding gypsum can help raise the pH level and make the soil more alkaline.
Calculating the Amount of Gypsum Needed
To calculate the amount of gypsum needed, you will need to know the size of the area you want to treat and the current pH level of the soil. A general rule of thumb is to apply 40-50 pounds of gypsum per 1,000 square feet of soil.
However, the exact amount needed may vary depending on the soil’s composition and the specific needs of the plants you are growing.
It is important to note that adding too much gypsum to soil can have negative effects, such as nutrient displacement and compacted soil. Therefore, it is important to follow recommended guidelines and not exceed the recommended amount of gypsum for your specific soil type and plant needs.
When to Apply Gypsum to Lawn?
First, you determine whether the type of soil in your lawn requires gypsum to be added. For instance, the soil present in coastal areas may need gypsum to reduce the soil’s salt levels.
On the other hand, those residing in areas with sandy soils must avoid gypsum as it would deplete the lawn soil’s calcium content. Gypsum should also not be used in soils with low sodium levels as the mineral may deprive the soil of the existing saline content.
How Much Gypsum to Add to Your Lawn?
If you want to plant some veggies or flowers, then for every square foot, 20 to 30 pounds of gypsum is sufficient. For existing plants, 40 pounds per one thousand square feet is adequate.
What Is the Difference Between Liquid and Powdered Gypsum?
Liquid gypsum is a form of fast-acting gypsum or rapid gypsum that helps prevent waterlogging, loosens clay, improves soil drainage, and removes excess saline content from the soil. Powdered gypsum is in the form of a fine powder and is more beneficial for new garden beds.
How Often Should You Apply Gypsum?
It depends on your lawn’s condition. If you have a lawn that has already been set up, then you should apply gypsum after lawn aeration.
Gypsum can, however, be applied at any time of the year, either once, twice, or thrice, depending upon your lawn’s requirements.
Hopefully, you now have adequate information about what gypsum is, its uses, advantages, and how to use it. With this knowledge of how, when, and how often to apply gypsum to your garden, you can go ahead and reap the benefits of gypsum for all your gardening needs.