WOOSTER, Ohio — Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also a protector of water.
Warren Dick, a scientist in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, is two years into a three-year study of gypsum’s benefits on farms, including to soil quality, crop yields and reducing phosphorus runoff.
So far, he said, farm fields in his study treated with gypsum are seeing an average 55-percent reduction in soluble phosphorus runoff, based on tests of water samples collected from the fields’ drainage tiles.
“There’s no one technology that’s going to solve the issue of phosphorus runoff,” said Dick, a soil and environmental chemistry professor in the college’s School of Environment and Natural Resources. “But I think gypsum is going to become one of the tools in the toolbox, something farmers will use with other approaches as part of their total management package.”