Calcium sulfate makes a difference in soil properties

Calcium sulfate has been proven to change the structure and physical condition of soils in various ways. First, it can loosen tight compacted soil thereby improving soil structure.  It helps with aeration and also permeability.

The addition of calcium enhances the growth of soil organisms, which helps create a better soil structure. This combined with the change from small particles to bigger aggregates allows greater penetration of water and nutrients into the soil. In the case of finer soils that are prone to surface crusting whether by rainfall or irrigation, calcium sulfate helps prevent crusting, thereby preserving more stable aggregates.

An additional benefit from the use of calcium sulfate is the creation of pores of varying sizes. They guarantee a proper balance between drainage and holding capacity on the other. The bigger pores enhance water flow and drainage while the lesser pores keep the water longer and help with storage for the plants. These varying range of pore sizes are greatly important and provide roots with needed oxygen because of the enhanced aeration. The final benefit of the increased porous soil is the better root penetration. This aspect helps the plants get more minerals and water where they are needed and increases better growth.

Calcium sulfate reduces compaction

One of the major consequences of continuous cultivation is the inevitable problem of soil compaction. By introducing calcium sulfate into the soil, aggregates are much less likely to compact. The looser soil allows for the plant roots to penetrate deeper. In the case of clay soils, cracks tend to appear due when they dry. Calcium sulfate reduces this phenomenon by reducing the variation of the soil volume when drying.

Another benefit of calcium sulfate is the increased activity of soil organisms which break down organic material and dead plant matter. The increased activity helps to bind soil particles together which in turn stabilizes the soil structure.

Author: Dr. Daniel Davidson

Dr. Daniel Davidson – EcoGEM Agronomist.  Dr. Daniel Davidson is a nationally recognized agronomist.  He served most recently as Director of Strategic Research for the Illinois Soybean Association.  Dr. Davidson has also served in various capacities at GEOSYS, Cargill, Agri Business Group and Agri Growth, Inc.  He holds a Ph.D. in Agronomy from Washington State University and an MS in Agronomy from the University of Missouri.