Source: Gypsoil

Indiana and Ohio farmers wishing to use gypsum to improve soil quality as part of on-farm conservation programs now have access to technical information and possible financial assistance through their local NRCS office. 

Both states’ NRCS technical staff recently adopted an interim practice standard providing guidelines for how gypsum can be incorporated as part of various conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Ohio.

Indiana is offering payments for the use of the state’s gypsum standard through EQIP in the Western Lake Erie Basin, in Indiana’s National Water Quality Initiative watersheds and in the Big Pine and Little Wea Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative watersheds. 

Gypsum contains about 20% calcium and 16% sulfur in sulfate form on a dry matter basis, however nutrient levels vary depending on the specific source of the product. Scientists have observed that gypsum can improve physical properties of certain soils, particularly those with high clay content. The calcium in gypsum helps to build soil aggregates and create pore spaces within the soil profile. 

Researchers at Ohio State University also found that fields treated with gypsum had an average 55% reduction in soluble phosphorus concentrations based on tests of water samples collected from the fields’ drainage tiles.  

Practice Code Details

Indiana and Ohio’s new provisional standard is spelled out in a document called “Amending Soil Properties with Gypsiferous Products (Code 801).” Indiana also has an Agronomy Technical Note with criteria for gypsum rates, site eligibility and other technical measures. Both are available online in Section IV at Indiana’s NRCS’s Field Office Technical Guide. 

Indiana’s code lists three distinct conservation purposes for gypsum applications:

  • Improve soil physical/chemical properties to reduce soil erosion and improve infiltration;
  • Reduce dissolved phosphorus concentrations in surface runoff and subsurface drainage; 
  • Reduce the potential for pathogen transport from areas of manure and biosolids application. 

Ohio’s code lists the following four distinct conservation purposes for gypsum applications:

  • Improve soil health by increasing infiltration and improving physical/chemical properties of soil;
  • Improve surface water quality by reducing dissolved phosphorus concentrations in surface runoff and subsurface drainage; 
  • Ameliorate subsoil aluminum toxicity; 
  • Improve water quality by reducing the potential for pathogens transport and other contaminant transport from areas of manure and biosolids application.

The Ohio practice standard stipulates qualified gypsum applications must be used to alter the physical or chemical charactersistics of soil to help achieve one of the purposes. The practice does not apply to soils with a cation exchange capacity (CEC) of less than 5, soils with pH of less than 5.8, soils with extractable magnesium less than 200 pounds per acre or soils used for organic production.

Payment Schedules

The new standard spells out NRCS financial assistance options for gypsum applications in both states. In Ohio, approved growers are eligible to apply to receive approximately $21-$36 per acre depending on the application rate. Minorities and veterans are eligible for additional incentives. In Indiana, payment to participants in EQIP is $28 per acre, which is based off of a typical application rate of about 1 ton per acre. 

More Information

For more information, visit the following links for the respective states.