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EC number: 231-900-3
CAS number: 7778-18-9
Calcium sulfate is not expected to have a detrimental effects on terrestrial plants due to its natural occurence in the environment.
Calcium sulfate, calcium and sulfate ions are ubiquitous in the
environment. Calcium is an important constituent of most soils and the
minerals found in soil are mostly compounds of calcium with other
substances. Furthermore, calcium sulfate, as Gypsum, is used as an
inorganic fertiliser to improve soil quality. Important applications
• for the reclamation of sodic soils through ion exchange (calcium
• to reduce run-off water and its resulting erosion in dry agricultural
areas as an ameliorant for acidic subsoils and soils in forestry
• to improve Ca- and S-nutritional elements in agriculture (rape and
• Gypsum is also useful as an additive for soils with high levels of
The European Committee Joint Research centre have summarized a number of
papers as part of an assessment of the effect of gypsum on plants. Van
Alphen and de los Rios Romero (1971) conclude that up to 2 percent
gypsum in the soil favours plant growth, between 2 and 25 percent has
little or no adverse effect if in powdery form, but more than 25 percent
can cause substantial reduction in yields. They suggest that reductions
are due in part to imbalanced ion ratios, particularly K:Ca and Mg:Ca
ratios. Hernando et al. (1963, 1965) studied the effect of gypsum on the
growth of corn and wheat by varying the gypsum level in the soil up to
75 percent. They show that high levels of gypsum caused poor growth of
corn, especially as the soil moisture was maintained at 80 percent of
field capacity. However, wheat showed minimum growth where the soil
contained 25 percent gypsum at all soil moisture levels ranging from 15
to 100 percent of field capacity. Akhvlediani (1962) concludes in
general, that agricultural production on gypsiferous soils is not
affected when the gypsum content is between 15 and 30 percent.
The various reports quoted by JRC suggest that the effect of gypsum on
plants is extremely variable depending on the plant, soil type and
location. However, the overall results indicate that apart from special
crops (e.g. certain fruit trees) the gypsum concentration in soils
should be limited to 15 %.
Investigations by Sanderson (2004), on behalf of Agriculture & Agri-Food
Canada, on the use of gypsum as an organic amendment in lowbush
blueberry production, indicated that gypsum application, with or without
fertiliser application, was an effective method to increase nutrient
uptake in the lowbush blueberry. Gypsum significantly influenced
nutrient uptake and general plant health more than any other fertiliser
application evaluated in this region.
Sulfur (as sulfate) is a major plant nutrient, and is essential for crop
Calcium is an important constituent of most soils and the minerals found
in soil are mostly compounds of calcium with other substances. Soil
calcium is necessary for proper plant functions and helps in producing
healthy fruits and flowers.
Some of the functions that require soil calcium include enzyme activity
for the absorption of other nutrients, proper cell formation and
division, increased metabolic activities, starch breakdown and nitrate
uptake. Without soil calcium plants tend to lose their colour, have a
short life and produce little or no fruit.
Many fertilisers available today make use of calcium and calcium-rich
salts to neutralise soils and make them less acidic. Calcium has strong
relationships with other substances found in the soil like magnesium,
potassium and sodium. Together these nutrients make the soil so rich
that almost all kinds of plants can be grown with it.
Soil calcium is mainly important for lowering the pH level and the
associated acidity. It is often recommended to include up to 40 – 50% of
calcium in any fertilizer to account for its deficiency in the soil. The
resulting plants will have stronger roots and better growth rate than a
calcium deficient soil. In addition to this, calcium also helps in
regulating the flow of water and air in the soil for proper absorption
by the plant cells.
Calcium is known as an essential nutrient for higher plants and one of
the basic inorganic elements of algae. Calcium plays crucial roles in
strengthening cell walls and plant tissues, reducing the toxicity of
soluble organic acids, elongating roots, and so on.
The calcium content of plants varies between 0.1 and > 0.5% of the dry
weight depending on the growing conditions, plant species, and plant
organ. In well-balanced growing nutrient solutions with controlled pH,
maximal growth rates were obtained at calcium supply levels of 2.5-100
uM. Also, calcium can be supplied at higher concentrations and might
reach more than 10% of the dry weight without symptoms of serious
inhibition of plant growth, at least in calcicole plant species.
Typical symptoms of calcium deficiency are the disintegration of cell
walls and the collapse of the affected tissues, such as the petioles and
upper parts of the stems. Lower calcium contents in fleshy fruits also
increase the losses caused by enhanced senescence of the tissue and by
Given the extensive and continued use of calcium sulfate as a fertiliser
and for chemical treatments of soils and its natural occurrence in the
environment, it is considered that calcium sulfate would not have a
detrimental effect on plants at the concentrations released to soil.
Therefore, the performance of a short-term toxicity test to plants is
not scientifically justified.
Van Alphen and De Los Rios Romero F (1971) Gypsiferous soils, notes on
characteristics and management. Int Inst of Land Recl and Improv.
Bulletin 12. Wageningen. The Netherlands
Hernando V., Sanchez Conde. MP and Contreras JG (1965) Study of the
mineral nutrition of maize on soils rich in gypsum Zolfo in Agricoltura
Palermo 1964; 398-411
Sanderson K (2004), Gypsum as an Organic Amendment in Lowbush Blueberry
Production, Agriculture & Agri-food Canada, Report 2004F-05E
Nachtergaele F, FAO, Rome – Italy, Criterion 6.3 “Soil gypsum content”
cited in Common bio-physical criteria to define natural constraints for
agriculture in Europe, JRC Scientific and Technical Reports, Draft
report EUR XXXXX EN.
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