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Electricity "Waste" Powers Crops.

Since enactment of the Clean Air Act as amended in 1990, scrubbers added to smokestacks of electric power plants have been generating more and more gypsum as a waste product. But instead of going to a landfill, that gypsum can help farmers raise their corn and soybean yields while protecting soil from erosion. Though still in the research stage, the tactic is being tried on hundreds of thousands of acres in the Midwest.

ARS researchers in Indiana have shown that the gypsum helps soil take in more water by preventing soil from crusting, so more rainwater enters the soil, instead of running off. In the past, gypsum from quarries has been used to loosen soil, treat soils high in sodium or toxic aluminum, and fertilize soils with calcium and sulfur deficiencies. At least one Illinois farmer operates a business applying the power-plant gypsum on other farmers' fields. Trucks that used to return empty from the grain elevator now return full--of gypsum. Darrell Norton, USDA-ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory, West Lafayette, Indiana; phone (765) 494-8673, e-mail
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Title Annotation:gypsum
Publication:Agricultural Research
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 1999
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