I have been spending some time talking to farmers about the benefits of gypsum. Our smallish wheat harvest in southwest Ohio is an opportunity to get more fields covered before fall harvest.
Ron Chamberlain, founder and agronomist at Gypsoil, offered advice on how to store, load and apply gypsum for optimal results.
* Choose the best fertilizer, lime or litter spreader
The spreader should have a stainless steel box with slick, steep sides, twin spinners and a wide delivery chain or belt.
* Use soil tests to determine gypsum rates
The Cation Exchange Capacity levels dictate gypsum rates as a soil amendment, Chamberlain said. Rates vary from half a ton per acre on lighter soils to two tons per acre on heavy soils, applied once every one to two years.
* Apply gypsum in any tillage system
Gypsum can be applied to till or no till systems. Avoid applying on snow-covered or frozen ground, to prevent loss to wind and water, Chamberlain said.
* Apply gypsum any time that is appropriate to be in the field without physically damaging the soil or crop
“Ideal application periods include before planting, after summer wheat harvest, fall harvest and after any alfalfa cutting once the crop is removed.
* After several applications, growers may be able to use variable rate applications
Rates may vary from 300 to 500 pounds per acre in lighter soils and 1,000 pounds per acre in heavier soils
* Allow for small adjustments in equipment and application practices when you begin
Applicators will find techniques that work best for them and their equipment.
* If possible, store gypsum under covers
This protects it from rainfall to prevent moisture accumulation.
* Be careful when loading
Feather gypsum into the spreader bed with the loader to prevent bridging.
* Adjust door height, spinner speed and belt speed
The goal is to have the material flow uniformly onto the spinners to consistently deliver the proper rate.
* Make adjustments to the spinner assembly to improve distribution pattern
Remove any unnecessary accessories from the rear of the spreader. Then adjust the spinner so that the gypsum drops from the belt and contacts the spinner early in its rotation to help ensure a uniform spread pattern.
I know these are common sense but they are easily overlooked!