Time for sulphur - everything about sulphur plant nutrition!

May non sulphur content fertilizers be applied? There were good yields back in a days.

Of cause non sulphur content fertilizers may be applied. However, even in case when sulphur deficiency is not clearly seen, you lose yield increase, get seeds with lower quality, which means lower protein content, less vitamins and gluten. Moreover, scientifically considered that sulphur content fertilizer application improves nitrogen uptake by plant, therefore decreasing its leaching from soil. Thus, sulphur content fertilizer application is more efficient. Why using sulphur content fertilizers? – you can get more!

Which sulphur content fertilizers exist?

Let us overview well known and widely used fertilizers containing sulpphur as well as their benefits and disadvantages:

  • - Gipsum – cheap sulphur source, neutral. Among disadvantages is its low water solubility.
  • - Elemental sulphur – cheap sulphur source. However, plants cannot assimilate pure sulphur. Sulphur oxidizes till sulphate-ions in certain conditions in soil (temperature, wetness). The process takes several days to several weeks. Moreover, sulphur conversion to sulphate-ion proceeds with big losses, i.e. around 10% is converted.
  • - Ammonium sulphate is expensive, crystal powder fertilizer, which makes it not suitable for drilling. N:S ratio is 1:1 – too high sulphur concentration (plants don’t need it in such amounts). Moreover this fertilizer has an acid reaction.
  • - Potassium sulphate, Magnesium sulphate are expensive sulphur sources.
  • - Sulphate nitrate – cheap sulphur source. There are fertilizers with different N:S ratios exist.

Does sulphur acidify the soil?

It depends first of all on chemicals which contain sulphur (see question "Which sulphur content fertilizers exist?")

Can sulphur content fertilizers be applied on acid/alkaline soils?

Yes, it can be applied. Nevertheless, application of physiologically acid fertilizer is strictly forbidden on soils with acid reaction. In the meantime, it can make positive melioration effect in case of application to soils with alkaline reaction. The most universal are physiologically neutral sulphur content mineral fertilizers.

Why sulphur is needed?

Plants need sulphur, because it participates in protein forming processes. When sulphur deficiency, plant sops protein formation. Thereby, nutritional value of a crop decreases.

Do all crops need sulphur nutrition, or can grow without it?

Sulphur is necessary for all crops without an exception. However, demand in this nutrient varies from plant to plant. More details about crop demands in sulphur can be seen at our "sulphur calculator" section.

How can sulphur deficiency be detected?

Sulphur and nitrogen deficiencies can be easily mixed up. Primary symptoms are very similar: yellowish colour of leaves, folding of leaves, crisping of stem and delay in plant development. To determine precisely which nutrient plant needs, soil chemical analysis has to be conducted. However, this procedure is labor intensive and time consuming. Moreover, sometimes it is simply impossible to make.

What can be done to avoid sulphur deficiency?

The easiest thing is to replenish sulphur pool in soil on time, because it is depleted by yields uptake and leaching from soil profile.

Which soils are mostly vulnerable to sulphur leaching?

Among soils mostly vulnerable to sulphur leaching are soils with wash out water regime in humid climate zones and soils of intensive agriculture territories.

What are sulphur application rates for different crops?

More details on sulphur application rates can be seen in our "sulphur calculator" section.

If it is known how much sulphur (kg/ha) has to be applied, how to calculate fertilizer amount?

Estimation is made on sulphur share in sulphur content fertilizer the same way as for any other element (traditionally - nitrogen).

What nutrient is more important for crops: nitrogen of sulphur?

Both nutrients are vital for crops. Both are protein forming elements. Moreover, these two nutrients have interference effect (synergistic effect) when applying at one time.

Why is it better to apply nitrogen together with sulphur?

When applying at one time, nitrogen and sulphur have interference effect. Synergistic effect increases nutrient uptake by plants, improving, therefore, crop nutrition characteristics. More details on this topic can be found under our "synergistic effect between nitrogen and sulphur" section.