Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Land Has Been Plastered

Like Ben Franklin did in Philadelphia over 200 years ago, our farm at Martinsville has been plastered.  I have been advocating gypsum for over 20 years now and it is finally available from a local fertilizer dealer.  He was looking for a way to justify the cost of a new spreader he bought and the details were worked out and now he is applying gypsum all over the county.  I know he spread over 1000 acres in the past two weeks.

He spread gypsum for a local farmer this spring who said one application took all of the variation out of his yield monitor at harvest.  Yield maps are usually colored like children's artwork so just making that map pretty much one color proves why we are doing it.

Gypsum varies in properties and is much misunderstood.  It is not a miracle potion for soil and crops but by reading my enthusiasm for it the past 20 years, you might think so.  Gypsum is around 21% calcium and 16% sulfur.  If it's made from fly ash, it probably contains more electrolytes.  It should not poison your ground like so many naysayers first reported and still do today.  Find the truth for your farm.

I first reported my findings at the National NoTillage Conference 14 years ago.  I told the audience the best way for me to explain the value of gypsum to me as a no-till farmer is I had no standing water on my fields after one application.  That means I had more oxygen in my soil and that did result in better crops.  I was asked questions so long after the presentation I couldn't talk anymore.

I am getting those same questions today, I just answered 3 of them.  Word travels slow if it is hard to do or understand and gypsum is just that.  It's a great soil amendment and can help you reach your goal of better soybeans and crops in general.  This has been true on my farm and many of the Midwest soils I work with.

Ed Winkle


  1. I have included several links which I consider very good sources of more information than this blog can provide. If you click on the NoTill Conference link, you can view the excellent webinar that was aired in August. There is a tiny button on the bottom right of that screen so you can view it full screen. It's been viewed on a 17 inch or larger monitor in my opinion.


  2. Gypsum just works. We have a farm that was rented out for tomato production over 30 years ago and paid for it every since. Poor production on the whole 70 acres and about 15 acres of very poor production to no production consistent holes. We no tilled this farm, pastured it, put clover on it, put on hi-calcium lime, put in additional field tile and never compacted it again but couldn't correct the damage. We applied one ton of gypsum this spring and eliminated the holes. We put one ton of gypsum on another 80 acres with a very wet and compacted clay soil that we just started farming last year. It held no water in the wet spring we had and was in the top five fields we had for corn this year.

    I was confident it would work before we applied gypsum, but I was amazed by the results in such a short time.

  3. Gypsum from fly ash seems to contains less heavy metals than mined gypsum, from a previous study (maybe funded by the coal industry? ;) but it wouldn't hurt to see a detailed analysis for aluminum, arsenic and other elements. There are lots of differences between the coals being burned, it stands to reason that this would also result in differences in the composition of fly ash and its gypsum.
    But even mined gypsum should be better than mined phosphate, it seems that where phosphate is, heavy metals and even radioactive elements are in higher concentration too.

    Is gypsum the reason why some farmers are against the closure of the coal power plants? ;)

  4. I don't think gypsum is why any American is against the closure of coal power plants. I believe it is the conservative view of using a precious resource wisely. We have abundant coal supplies and it makes sense to burn it, use it scrub it and apply it.

    I want to thank you Scott for helping me obtain the gypsum, it helped persuade the local dealer to provide it as a service. I do not know who they are buying it through but I will find out.

    I am hoping my neighbor who got it on most of his ground basically due to my recommendation has similar results as you. He is a really good guy and I get great satisfaction by seeing good people improve and succeed. I am also hoping it helps me take my soils the next step up in fertility and health.

    On the safety of products, I found the gypsum was safer than imported Russian potash though I would use them both. There are some fly ash products that are not safe to apply on fields and they are not, by law.


  5. That's a long list of consideration, but that’s quite understandable, as price range for lands don’t get cheaper these days. Lands are good investments. And like any other investments, you would want something that will yield great returns. I hope you found the land you were looking for! Jen, TowerPoint