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Glen Howell

Glen Howell

Sulfur, Part 2: Application Rates & Timing

 By: Glen Howell

In Midwestern agriculture, there are primarily 4 fertilizers that are actively used for meeting sulfur nutritional needs. They are listed from highest to lowest sulfur concentration.  Also listed is their overall analysis & type of product composition:

Elemental Sulfur-90%S; (0-0-0-90S); dry product; sulfur is not in plant available form
Ammonium Thiosulfate (ATS)-26% S; (12-0-0-26S); liquid product
Ammonium Sulfate (AMS)-24% S; (21-0-0-24S); dry product
Potassium Magnesium Sulfate (langbeinite)-21% S; (0-0-21-21S-11Mg); dry product
Calcium Sulfate (SuperCal SO4; CaSO4; gypsum)-17%S; (0-0-0-17S-21Ca); dry product
Potassium Sulfate (SOP)-17% S; (0-0-50-17S); dry product

Crop need for sulfur

Crops need varying amounts of sulfur to complete their life cycle.  Much of what is needed for growth is recycled to the soil with plant residues, but there is a net loss with the crop removed. Organic matter (O.M.) in soil is a great sulfur source—each 1% contains 140# of sulfur—but it may not always be available when the crop needs it. 

Crop         Unit of Measure        # Sulfur/Unit of Measure        Yield-# Sulfur Removed                                                                 (Crop removal)

Corn (grain)        Bushel                   0.08#                               200 Bushels-16# S

Corn (silage)      Ton                        1.1#                                 30 Ton-33# S

Soybean (grain)  Bushel                   0.18#                                60 Bushels-10.8# S

Alfalfa/Forages  Ton                        5.4#**                   &nb


Are You Worried About Phosphorus?

I recently read an article about the likelihood of declining phosphorus production.  Have you seen it?  If not, it's well worth the time, & I strongly recommend giving it a look at

Is this a concern for farmers?  It could be, although there are many areas with naturally high P levels or have a readily available supply through animal manures.  Economic factors may change the value that manure is given today & could well make it more valuable in the future, even with additional transportation costs.

What do you think?  Is this a big deal or not?

Glen Howell is a contributing writer of Yield Starts Here, a blog for farmers, focusing on increasing yield and profitability by focusing on the soil. Glen is an agronomist & sales representative at Calcium Products. Find additional articles by Glen and other writers at

Sudden Death Syndrome

Is Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) appearing in your soybean fields this year?  If so, you are not alone!  Many producers & dealers have been shocked at the amount of SDS & how rapidly it has evolved this year.

Here is an excellent video from Iowa State Extension discussing SDS & how it affects the entire plant:

Conclusions: Mother Nature still holds the upper hand in crop development, but management makes a difference too!

Make sure to include SuperCal SO4 as part of your management strategy for next year.  It can offset some of the effects from saturated soils, as well as providing a soluble source of calcium for healthy plants.



Have You Tested Your Forages Yet?

Have you tested your forages yet?  As our growing season nears completion, & producers get ready for fall, the quality of the forages in livestock's diet declines.  Here is a great resources from Iowa State University Extension on the value in testing your feedstuffs.

And as you start your preparations for 2011, make sure to include SO4 in your plans!  Having a high quality, soluble source of calcium & sulfur can often improve the quality & quantity of your feed.

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