In addition to phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), and potassium (K), sulfur (S) is a necessary nutrient for crops to produce more yields and nutritious foods.

What Is Sulfur?

Sulfur is a pale yellow, odorless, and breakable solid that is water-insoluble but is soluble in carbon disulfide. It is vital to all living things, including people, animals, and plants. For human beings and animals, they get it only from plants. An average human takes in about 1 gram each day, mainly in proteins.

For plants and algae, it is taken up as sulfate from the soil or seawater and is considered an important nutrient in crop production. It is utilized to make the two most essential amino acids required to make proteins. It is also categorized as a secondary element together with magnesium and calcium but is sometimes described as “the 4th major element.” Moreover, sulfur is a material for making sulfur fertilizers for organic crops.

Key Functions of Sulfur to Plants

1. Protein production. Sulfur is a component of three sulfur-containing amino acids: cysteine, cysteine, and methionine, which are protein’s building blocks. 

2. Oil synthesis. For oilseeds, sufficient sulfur is necessary.

3. Formation of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a key component in a process that green plants undergo to produce their own food called photosynthesis.

4. Activation of enzymes. Enzymes are essential for breaking fats, protein, and carbohydrates into smaller molecules that the cells can use to get energy and undergo processes that allow plants to survive. Without enzymes, these physiological processes would not be possible, even for animals.

5. Helps with plants’ special metabolism. Sulfur is also associated with the structural characteristics of protoplasm.

6. Increases crop yields and improves the quality of produce. These two factors determine the market price of a farmer’s produce.

7. Sulfur helps plants to resist diseases and aids in growth and seed formation.

Sulfur Deficiency in Plants

The deficiency of sulfur in plants impacts protein synthesis, chlorophyll production, and plant function and structure. In other words, it affects the overall development and maturity of plants. Thus, affecting a farmer’s yields. Fortunately, it is not common in irrigated rice. Instead, it usually happens in allophane-containing soils, soils with low organic matter status, sandy soils, and highly-weathered soils that contain large amounts of iron oxides. Also, frequent rainfall affects the amount of available sulfur by moving it further down into the soils, making it hard for many plants to absorb.

To identify a sulfur deficiency in your plants, look for the following symptoms:

  • Lower leaves don’t show necrosis
  • Yellow or pale green color of the entire plant
  • Leaves are player yellow
  • Young leaves are light green (chlorotic), with the tips becoming necrotic

How to Correct Sulfur Deficiency

These days, numerous products are available to fix a sulfur shortage. The one you will utilize will depend on the soil conditions of your field and if there are other issues present. These products include the following:

  • Elemental Sulfur
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Ammonium thiosulfate
  • Gypsum 
  • Manure
  • Time
  • Impacts of fertilizers containing sulfur on soil pH 

Significance of Bentonite Clay to Sulfur Fertilizers

You most likely question the role of bentonite clay in sulfur for plants. This natural and unmodified clay serves as a reliable conditioner to enhance soil structure and increase water and fertilizer usage. Bentonite clay is safe for plants, aquatic systems, animals, and microorganisms.

Here are its advantages:

  • Increases fertilizer and water retention in sandy soils.
  • Improves water absorption on water repellent or non-wetting soils.
  • Provides soluble plant nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Improves the soil quality for lawns, vegetable gardens, pot plants, and native gardens.

To find out more about bentonite clay and sulfur fertilizers, visit Keg River’s website, one of North America’s top manufacturers of sulfur fertilizers.