"Waste" Gypsum Could Help Boost Crop Yields
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
May 27, 1999
Don Comis, (301) 504-1625, firstname.lastname@example.org
Instead of going to a landfill, gypsum from electric power plant smokestacks
can be sold to farmers to raise corn and soybean yields while protecting
soil from erosion. The tactic is still in the research stage, but it's being
applied on hundreds of thousands of acres in Indiana and Illinois, according
to soil scientist Darrell Norton at the Agricultural Research Service,
USDA's chief scientific agency.
Norton is scheduled to present his research findings today at the 10th
International Soil Conservation Organization Conference, held May 23-28 in
West Lafayette, Ind. The conference theme is "Sustaining the Global Farm:
Local Action for Land Stewardship."
Norton has shown that gypsum "waste" from power plants helps soil hold more
water, by preventing soil from crusting so more rainwater enters the soil
instead of running off the field. In the past, gypsum from quarries has been
used to loosen soil, to treat soils high in sodium or toxic aluminum, and to
fertilize soils deficient in calcium or sulfur, according to Norton.
Norton leads ARS' National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory in West
Lafayette. The laboratory is co-hosting the conference along with Purdue
University and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Ralph Woodward, a corn and soybean farmer who works with Norton, farms in an
area where most soils are low in calcium and sulfur. The discovery of soil
and water benefits from gypsum from power plants is icing on the cake.
Woodward believes these benefits will increase over time and show
significant yield increases. He believes so strongly in the potential
economic and environmental benefits of power plant gypsum that he has a
Purdue graduate student doing gypsum research on his farm, in cooperation
with Norton and the Indianapolis Power and Light Company.
Ken Curtis, of Prairie City, Illinois, another farmer who works with Norton,
also runs a business applying power plant gypsum on other farmers' fields.
Trucks that used to return from the grain elevator empty now return full of
Since the Clean Air Act of 1990 and subsequent revisions, scrubbers added to
power plant smokestacks are generating increasing amounts of gypsum.
Scientific contact: Darrell Norton, ARS National Soil Erosion Research
Laboratory, West Lafayette, Ind., phone (765) 494-8673, fax (765) 494-5948,
This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information
distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the
latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at
* Feedback and questions to ARS News Service via e-mail: email@example.com.
* ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville MD
20705-5128, (301) 504- 1617, fax 504-1648.
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: