Sulphur under scrutiny: research results released

25 February 2016

Everywhere in the world farmers are scrutinising fertilizer performance to get the best for their crops. Research results from France reveal evidence of the examination of Polysulphate performance in providing the sulphur that crops need compared with alternative commonly-used sulphur-containing fertilizers.

Seeking solutions to sulphur deficiency
Sulphur (S) deficiency is a limiting factor for crop production in many regions of the world particularly for brassica and cereal crops. The research in France was commissioned in order to better understand this situation. It measured the performance of common arable crops - oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) under polyhalite fertilizer in comparison with commonly-used S fertilizers. It was carried out in the arable heartland of the country in the north east of the nation.

Western Europe, as P. Dugast, the research report author points out, has seen increasing reports of sulphur deficiency amongst brassica and cereal crops. This is due largely to the decrease in atmospheric sulphur inputs from reduced industrial pollution. To maintain productivity, particularly with oilseed rape, farmers are evaluating the choice of sulphur inputs available.

Putting Polysulphate under the spotlight
In a series of experiments on different soil types and in two different farming years Polysulphate - under its technical name of polyhalite - was applied in some plots and granulated ammonium nitrate containing sulphate was applied in others.

In both mustard and sesame crops, Sulphur application (through Polysulphate) brought about significant increases in grain yields. Sulphur application appeared to increase the whole plant biomass, affecting most yield parameters, including oil concentration. In addition Sulphur application significantly increased K uptake by the plants, indicating a synergistic relationship between the two elements.

The paper concludes that S application at a macro-element dosage level significantly increases yields of oilseed species, such as mustard and sesame.

In the winter wheat trials the results are less conclusive on the benefits of sulphur supplement. According to the report author this could be due to the initial sulphur level in the soil, in both sites, being adequate to provide all the crop requirements in winter wheat.

Seeking answers and finding questions
Like a lot of research, this work in France has raised more issues for further investigation. The impacts of sulphur fertilizers on grain and flour quality are just two examples in the report’s conclusion.

The full report Use of Polyhalite as a Source of Sulfur for Oilseed Rape and Winter Wheat in France is available to read or download.

It is through investigation and problem-solving that we can develop the crop production answers that our growing global population needs from farmers and their farming - and from our fertilizer, Polysulphate.