Depending on the area you want to cover, you’ll either spread granular gypsum over the garden or incorporate the product into your planting soil.
How Do I Use a Gypsum Soil Amendment?
If you’re a landscaper, farmer, or home gardener who wants to improve your soil naturally, consider using a gypsum soil amendment. Adding gypsum to your soil can optimize your crop’s growth by balancing the pH levels and providing necessary nutrients.
What is Gypsum?
Gypsum is a mineral with high levels of calcium and magnesium. Gypsum, also known by its scientific name, calcium sulfate dihydrate, has been used by farmers on their crops throughout history.
In recent years, it has become popular due to agriculture experts finding it to:
- Benefit soil maintenance
- Improve soil structure
- Reduce soil compaction
- Reduce Aluminum toxicity
- Neutralize soil acidity
- Keep clay particles from adhering to bulbs, roots and tubers
- Increase crop yield greatly
Gypsum works by removing excess sodium from the soil and adding necessary calcium. While some gardeners use lime to increase their soil’s calcium levels, lime also increases the soil pH.
Gypsum is a natural, non-toxic way to provide a source of calcium and revitalize the calcium content in soil without throwing the pH level off balance.
If the land has flooded, overcropped, or ruined due to heavy traffic and extreme weather, gypsum can improve the soil and boost it back to health for planting.
It has proven to break up clay soils and other compacted soils where the soil particles have become compacted and are no longer suitable for planting.
When To Use Gypsum Soil Amendments
Before deciding to use a gypsum soil amendment, you first want to conduct a soil analysis. You can conduct soil testing annually or simply as needed, so you are always aware of your soil makeup.
There are different soil tests you can conduct to find out your garden’s fertility and pH balance. This will help you understand what, if any, nutrients you need to add to your soil for optimal growth.
Getting your soil tested will also prevent you from over-fertilizing ground that does not require any more nutrients.
If your soil’s calcium level is low or medium, gypsum could balance your soil. Having the correct amount of calcium in your soil will help prevent diseases like blossom end rot, affecting certain tomato plants.
Consider if gypsum will help your type of soil. It works best on soil with high salt content, especially in coastal regions or arid climates. It is not advised to use gypsum in sandy soil. If your soil already has a high calcium content, adding gypsum will make the calcium supply excessive.
Using gypsum unnecessarily can cause a loss of vital elements like aluminum, manganese, and iron from soils. The removal of aluminum will lead to water pollution, and manganese and iron loss will negatively affect your plant growth.
Gypsum increases the calcium levels found in your soil, which will stimulate your plants’ root growth. It helps break up compacted ground so water can better permeate the soil. The broken-up soil and improved water flow ensure that plants’ roots can grow.
Related: What Is Greensand?
How to Use a Gypsum Soil Amendment
For home gardeners, you can spread granular gypsum on top of your flowerbed’s soil because it is not toxic for people and animals. Forty pounds of granular gypsum soil amendment will cover one thousand square feet of soil. This application will keep your soil balanced for three years.
If you are growing fruits and vegetables in your garden, you will take a slightly different approach by mixing twenty to thirty pounds of gypsum soil amendment into the soil as you plant your crops. Water the crops well after everything has been planted.
Though home flowerbed and garden applications will last for three years, you will likely not see any change to your soil for one growing season. Even if you do not see a difference, be patient, and don’t apply more gypsum. It will further change your soil’s nutrient content.
Should You Use a Gypsum Soil Amendment?
If you test your soil and find it lacking in calcium or high in sodium, you will want to apply a gypsum soil amendment. You will also want to use gypsum to balance your soil pH levels if it is too alkaline or acidic.
You can use a gypsum soil amendment if your land consists of clay or otherwise compact soil. Gypsum will break up clumps in the soil so that air and water can flow better. This will make the soil a better environment for your plants to flourish.
Using a gypsum soil amendment will also help prevent soil runoff. If you use chemicals in your garden, the runoff can contaminate your water supply. Not only is gypsum non-toxic, but it also keeps phosphorus from leaving the soil, which will prevent water pollution.