Sulfur is known to be important for the growth and development of crops. Commonly found near volcanoes, the mineral is widely used as the raw material for making sulfate and phosphate fertilizers to support plant growth. Plants need at least 16 chemical elements to grow optimally. Three of these elements are Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (O) which are obtained from the air, while the other 13 elements are provided by the soil.
Those 13 elements are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), chlorine (Cl), ferrum or iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B) and molybdenum (Mo).
Most of the sulfur in the soil is found in organic material and dissolved sulfur in the soil. The active sulfur will be absorbed by the roots, especially in the root hairs, before entering the plant cells.
Sulfur plays an important role in the formation of the structure and function of enzymes and proteins in leaf and seed tissues. An adequate supply of sulfur nutrients will ensure the adequacy of cysteine which plays an important role in the formation of seed protein.
In rice plants, sulfur is required for the synthesis of the amino acids cystine, cysteine, and methionine, which in turn form proteins. Moreover, sulfur is very helpful for the development of shoots, roots and tillers.
Rice plants that experience sulfur deficiency have a longer lifespan with a high percentage of grain voids. To overcome sulfur deficiency in rice, it is necessary to improve soil quality and productivity through the application of inorganic and organic fertilizers.
In root vegetables, sulfur serves to improve the quality of roots, such as improving the color, aroma, taste, and size of the roots. The growth of other plant parts that are strongly supported by sulfur is the formation of shoots and chlorophyll.
In shallot plants, sulfur adequacy is closely related to the size and number of roots produced. The distinctive aroma emitted from shallot is also related to the sulfur content.
Benefits of Sulfur to Plants
In general, some of the benefits of sulfur for plant growth are as follows:
- Help the formation of amino acids
- Support shoot growth
- Help the formation of plant root nodules
- Stimulate the growth of saplings
- Play a role in the formation of chlorophyll.
- Increase plant immunity from pathogens.
Plants that experience sulfur deficiency will have these following conditions:
- Decreased plant protein production, less active plant cell growth.
- There is accumulation of free amides and amino acids to a limit that is harmful to plants, physiological activity is damaged and is susceptible to pests and diseases.
- Leaf chlorophyll production decreases, assimilation and carbohydrate synthesis process is delayed, plants experience chlorosis/yellowing, and low yields.
Plants that experience sulfur deficiency will show the following symptoms:
- The color of the young leaves changes to light green, uneven, slightly shiny, slightly whitish, then turns greenish yellow.
- Plant growth is slow, stunted, thin and short-trunked.
On the other side, sulfur excess is also harmful to plant growth. Excessive sulfur nutrients in plants will have an impact on pH values that are too acidic so that plant leaves could fall out more easily.
Sulfur Content in ZA Fertilizers
One way to anticipate sulfur deficiency symptoms in plants is to apply ZA (ammonium sulfate) fertilizer. It contains about 21% nitrogen and 24% sulfur. It is usually applied as a basic fertilizer by farmers, because the work reaction is rather slow.
The sulfur content in ZA fertilizer will also play a role in the development of the plant’s immune system which will increase the ability of plants to defend themselves from parasitic pests, diseases and drought.
ZA fertilizer will also be able to increase production and harvest quality as well as improve the taste and color of the crops. It should also be noted that, due to the slow release of its nutrients, ZA fertilizer is more suitable to be used as basic fertilizer.
Benefits of Sulfur for Health
In addition to its benefits for plant growth, sulfur is also essential for men’s health. Since a long time ago, sulfur has been known as a natural medicine that is efficacious to treat various skin diseases and other diseases. We have summarized some of the benefits of sulfur for health.
1. Fight Acne
The chemical element could kill bacteria that clog skin pores and reduce excess oil (sebum) on the skin. Therefore, sulfur is often used as a cosmetic base to treat mild acne.
2. Remove dead skin cells
Besides being used in anti-acne products, sulfur is also used as an ingredient for exfoliation. It is keratolytic, which means it can peel off the outer layer of skin, making it suitable for removing dead skin cells.
3. Prevent skin aging
Sulfur can kill bacteria that damage the skin while stimulating collagen production. Collagen is used to maintain skin elasticity. Therefore, sulfur is often used in anti-aging or rejuvenating products that function to slow down the aging process of the skin.
4. Get rid of dandruff
Sulfur can also be used as a treatment for dandruff scalp. It helps crusty scalp exfoliate more quickly and improves hair texture, suppleness and shine.
5. Treat eczema and rosacea
Eczema and rosacea are skin diseases that cause skin redness, itching, and irritation. Sulfur-based medications are often prescribed to substitute antibiotics for rosacea. With its anti-inflammatory property, sulfur can overcome the symptoms of rosacea.
Besides rosacea, sulfur is the most recommended medicine to treat eczema. Therapeutic sulfur can reduce eczema symptoms such as dry skin, itchy patches, and inflammation.
6. Treat arthritis pain
Sulfur can also be processed into supplements. Sulfur supplements are often used to reduce pain caused by arthritis. Sulfur in the form of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is also good for joint health and helps the formation of connective tissue, such as cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
7. Increase bone density
The sulfur content in shallots is proven to help increase bone density. Entering menopause, women are more at risk of developing osteoporosis due to reduced bone density. Women who have reached menopause and regularly consume shallots have a lower risk of osteoporosis.
Now you know, behind its pungent smell, sulfur has many benefits to overcome various skin health problems. Even so, do not use sulfur carelessly. To stay safe, use sulfur-based products that have been tested and under the supervision of a physician.
Written by: Renat