Using gypsum in agriculture
Sir, – On behalf of the four major gypsum board and plaster manufacturers in Britain and Ireland, the Gypsum Products Development Association would like to respond to Dr Gerard Murphy and Dr Brian O’Rourke’s concerns about agricultural use of gypsum (March 5th).
First, we welcome their recognition of gypsum as a beneficial soil improver. Dr Murphy and Dr O’Rourke’s letter might be taken as implying that gypsum was in some way implicated in the tragic deaths in Northern Ireland, which is not the case as the use of gypsum for animal bedding is not permitted in Northern Ireland. What should be highlighted is that hydrogen sulphide is present in all slurry and the danger needs to be managed through correct procedures.
Generation of hydrogen sulphide from gypsum-derived animal bedding, as highlighted by Dr Murphy and Dr O’Rourke, is currently being investigated by the UK Health and Safety Executive with the support of the UK Environment Agency. A report on the findings of this investigation is expected in the autumn. GPDA members, and the agricultural industry, await the results with interest.
Second, the GPDA can confirm that none of the four major gypsum board and plaster manufacturers in Britain and Ireland are engaged in proactively promoting the sale of gypsum to farmers for use as animal bedding. The GPDA represents the four major gypsum board and plaster manufacturers: Gypsum Industries in Ireland, British Gypsum, Siniat (formerly Lafarge Plasterboard) and Knauf Drywall in Britain. – Yours, etc,