Friday, March 7, 2014

Procuring Gypsum

We have talked a lot about gypsum over the years.  How do you get it?  They don't sell it at most NPK stores.  There is a whole lot more to feeding soil and plants than NPK.

There are two major firms in the Midwest who handle most of the fly ask and other contracts.  That is GypSoil and AgroSoil.  I talked to principles at AgroSoil yesterday to see we could get the word out.  Their 40 distributors need help in agronomy because many farmers and landowners will ask questions.

There are hundreds of benefits from gypsum but it is not cure-all.  Nothing is.  The first question is, is it safe?  It came out of a chimney.  Massive amounts of lime are used to clean the sulfur out of coal burning electric generating plants.  The result is there are massive piles of this fly ash gypsum and it's cheaper to almost give it to farmers than to pay for land filling it.

After talking to scientists and reading reams of tests and documents, I figured out we know more about fly ash than we do the fertilizer we produce or import!  I have one friend who totally screwed up his organic like production field by spreading a litter blend he had no idea had a pesticide in it.  He had to test it to find at his cost and pay for the loss!

The need for gypsum has come from the ground up as farmers learn its benefits.  That is, it oxygenates soil by flushing magnesium off clay, or flocculation.  Soils need about 35 lbs of gypsum per inch of rainfall per year to achieve this.  I started teaching this principle 14 years ago after it was taught to me and the word has finally gotten around.

We need gypsum.  At my price of $6 per ton picked up at the power plant, it's the cheapest input I have this year.  I need 17 nutrients and several of them in mass quantities.  Gypsum provides and calcium and sulfur to balance the nitrogen I buy.

Ed Winkle


  1. Good comparative analysis of gypsum between 4 sources (mined, fly ash, drywall, casting), all from your home state:

    I suspect mined gypsum composition can vary more than the 3 latter sources, depending on the mine location. Fly ash is quite regulated, but it also comes from a variable composition mined lime originally. Recycled drywall and casting gypsum probably mostly come from cheap fly ash too, maybe it's the gypsum that does not pass the "edible" grade? ;)

  2. I've always wondered if drywall scraps from new construction (no paint) couldn't be used by small gardeners. What do you think Ed?

  3. Ag lime delivered and applied runs just under $60 per ton here.