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Drywall dust does well in dirt.

As an undergraduate student working part-time in a building supply store, Mark E. Burger became dismayed by the amount of waste drywall piling up because landfills will no longer accept this material. But when he looked into the composition of these gypsum panels, he decided that he might be able to put them to work fortifying soils.

So, as a graduate student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, he and soil scientist Edwin White ground up some virgin drywall and applied it to test plots. They grew corn on untreated soil and soils with limestone, ground drywall, or excessive drywall. They discovered that the drywall did enhance the nutrient content of the soil and helped increase the amount of corn produced. However, adding extra drywall to dispose of more of this waste could lead to leaching of potassium, says Burger.

Many gardeners buy gypsum additives to compensate for high clay or salt content. But using pulverized drywall offers the added advantage of not contributing to landfills, White says.

Only "regular" drywall from construction sites should be used, say the researchers, because used drywall tends to have paint or other contaminants, as do fire-resistant or moisture-resistant drywall materials.
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Title Annotation:gypsum drywall fortifies soil
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 6, 1993
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