No-till improves sustainability by protecting the resource base. Many of the fragile soils in Southeast Wisconsin which could benefit most from no-till are also prone to surface crusting which can result in delayed or uneven emergence and reduced stands which reduce yield and farmer income. Users of conventional tillage cite this as a reason not to no-till, increasing erosion and surface water quality declines. Application of gypsum has been suggested as a solution which can also supply sulfur as a nutrient but commercial application rates far exceed rates needed for soil structural and nutrient benefits and supplies of flue gas desulfurization gypsum are dwindling as coal-fired power plants are closed, increasing price. Can low rates band-applied at planting address this problem?
A 2-year replicated field study will be conducted to evaluate the effect of gypsum applied at planting on stand establishment, sulfur nutrition and yield of corn and soybean. Gypsum will be applied through standard planter insecticide application attachments at maximum and one-half maximum rates and compared to a no gypsum and unlimited sulfur controls. Results and experiences will be shared through a dedicated field day, interactions with regional farmer-led watershed protection groups and in print materials.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Determine if in-row band application of gypsum at planting can improve emergence and stand uniformity in corn and soybean;
- Determine the effect of gypsum application on crop yield;
- Evaluate the impact on sulfur fertility to modify current practices if necessary; and
- Share results with the agricultural community, focusing on farmer-led watershed protection groups.