Issue 6 2016
 
Counting on calcium
In every company, community or cluster of friends there is usually someone who contributes a lot but does not always catch the attention - or congratulations - they deserve. And so it is with calcium.

Calcium - the least celebrated of the four nutrients in Polysulphate - quietly and generously helps plant growth leaving the limelight to sulphur, magnesium and potassium.
 
Polysulphate contains 17% CaO - which equates to 12.2% Ca - as calcium sulphate. This calcium is soluble and fully available for plant uptake. We thought it would be good to count up calcium’s contribution to crop growth, health and yield.
Calcium and its powerful contribution to plant growth
  • Calcium is responsible for proper plant cell division and for strengthening cell walls. It gives cell walls rigidity and strength. Calcium deficiency causes deterioration and disintegration of cell walls and the collapse of tissues. Plant cells become leaky under calcium insufficiency, resulting in the loss of cell compounds and eventually death of the cell and plant tissue.
  • Calcium improves the absorption of other nutrients by roots and their translocation within the plant. It activates a number of plant growth-regulating enzyme systems, helps convert nitrate-nitrogen into forms needed for protein formation and contributes to improved disease resistance. It also plays a role in regulating various cell and plant functions.
  • Calcium is an immobile element. When there is a deficiency, the plant can’t translocate calcium from the older leaves to the younger leaves. With calcium shortage new growth at the leaf tips and margins begins to wither and die back and new leaves are often deformed.
Better below ground
Providing calcium through Polysulphate helps to maintain essential calcium reserves in the soil. Polysulphate can be an important source of calcium for tropical, acidic soils where calcium deficiency can be common. Available calcium can alleviate aluminium toxicity symptoms which are common in those regions.

Roots and tubers through use of Polysulphate
Calcium application through Polysulphate results in improved marketable yield and quality for tuber crops such as potato and root vegetables such as carrot and parsnip.

Not only does calcium support stronger, healthier plants, by playing a crucial role in protection against stresses, thus improving root and tuber development but calcium also makes these parts of the plant more robust, helping to reduce susceptibility to bruising and post-harvest diseases.

In potatoes particularly, calcium reduces skin problems and internal necrosis.

This quality achieved with Polysulphate is important at harvest and post harvest. It ensures better keeping time in storage and helps in prolonging shelf life in the supply chain all the way to consumers.

Calcium: one of the powers of Polysulphate
We hope we’ve helped you to catch up on the contribution of calcium to the power of Polysulphate. It is good to know the many ways in which we can count on calcium to help our crops. And to appreciate what calcium does in the field and for our farming businesses.
Further reading:
 
Ginzberg, I., Minz, D., Faingold, I., Soriano, S., Mints, M., Fogelman, E., Warshavsky, S., Zig, U. and Yermiyahu, U. (2012). Calcium Mitigated Potato Skin Physiological Disorder. Am. J. Pot. Res. 89: 351–362. doi: 10.1007/s12230-012-9249-0
 
Hepler, P. (2005). Calcium: A Central Regulator of Plant Growth and Development. Plant Cell 17: 2142–2155. doi: http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1105/​tpc.​105.​032508
 
Palta, J.P. 1996. Role of Calcium in Plant Responses to Stresses: Linking Basic Research to The Solution of Practical Problems. Hortscience 31: 51–57.
 
White, P. and Broadley, M. (2003). Calcium in Plants. Ann. Bot. 92: 487-511.  doi: 10.1093/aob/mcg164   
 
 
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Mined in the UK, ICL is the first – and only producer – in the world to mine polyhalite, marketed as Polysulphate™