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Sulfur is a key plant nutrient and it’s important for our health. Sulfur is found naturally in a wide variety of foods and is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated when consumed as part of a balanced diet. However, sulfur can be toxic when taken in excess. This typically occurs when consuming sulfur water or taking high-dose supplements.
Sulfur (S) is a secondary macronutrient, along with calcium and magnesium, in plants, making up only 0.1 to 0.5% of the total plant mass. It is primarily present in organic forms such as cysteine and methionine, thiols, and sulfolipids, although some inorganic sulfur also exists within the plant.
It is important for healthy soil and optimum plant growth. It is available in the form of sulfur oxide from the atmosphere, which plants absorb into their cells and convert to sulfate ions to be used. In addition to natural sources, sulfur can be applied as a fertilizer to the soil by spraying or by mixing it into the ground. Microbially active soils that are rich in organic matter usually have enough sulfur to support crop production. However, intensive crop production and new cultivars may require additional application of sulfur.
Also known as kainit or sylvinite, potassium sulfate is an effective mineral fertilizer that is a mixture of potassium and sodium salts. It is most commonly used for sugar beets and similar crops, as the sodium in potassium sulfate helps to replace some of the potassium required by the crop. Additionally, the partial salt index of K2SO4 is less than that of other common potassium fertilizers, such as KCl, meaning that it adds less total salinity to the soil.