One topic that came up more than once at the summer Indiana Farm Management tour was the use of gypsum applied to fields. Applied with a spreader truck like lime, it is not a substitute for lime, but is instead another soil amendment.
Both jack Maloney and Mike Starkey, Brownsburg, are in no-till systems and apply gypsum as part of their routine crop prep process. Both feel the results they've seen have justified the cost of the product. Much of the gypsum available today comes from power plants, as a by-product. It contains sulfur. Indication mount each year that with all the additions utility companies have been asked or forced to make to eliminate sulfur emissions into the air, sulfur is not as plentiful and free to the crop in Indiana as it once was years ago.
At Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind., one of the popular things they do each year is conduct Practical Farm Research Plots. To be fair, most of these are demonstrations because the data is not replicated, at leas not at each location. The company now has four sites for PFR research; Atlanta, Ft. Branch and both Lexington and Effingham, Ill.
In 2008, Scott Beck, vice president at Becks, and the PFR crew noted a sizable increase in very small plots for adding gypsum. So they initiated a bigger gypsum study in 2009, and continue it into 2010. Compared to plots where no gypsum was applied either year, average yield for two hybrids was about 202 bushels with 900 pounds of gypsum applied in 2010 per acre vs. 169 bushels per acre for the no -gypsum plots. There was a much larger response for one hybrid than the other.
Applying 2,000 pounds of gypsum in 2009 and none in 2010 produced 188 bushels per acre, averaged over the two hybrids, in 2010. The best performance came after 900 pounds was applied in 2010 and 2,000 pounds in 2009. Average yield was 211 bushels per acre.
The average advantage for applying gypsum in 2010 was over 20 bushels per acre, Beck says. All hybrids tested showed positive yield improvement, although the response varied widely, as noted earlier. Population for the 900 pound 2010, 2,000 pound 2009 gypsum plots was slightly higher than other plots. Moisture was also slightly higher at harvest.