Ammonium Sulfate is an inorganic salt with a number of commercial uses. The most common use is as a soil fertilizer. It contains 21% nitrogen as ammonium cations, and 24% sulfur as sulfate anions. In fertilizer the purpose of the sulfate is to reduce the soil pH.
Ammonium Sulfate is used largely as an artificial fertilizer for alkaline soils. In the soil, the sulfate ion is released and forms sulfuric acid, lowering the pH balance of the soil (as do other sulfate compounds such as aluminum sulfate), while contributing essential nitrogen for plant growth.
In addition, it is used as an agricultural spray adjuvant for water soluble insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. There it functions to bind iron and calcium cations that are present in both well water and plant cells. It is particularly effective as an adjuvant for 2,4-D (amine), glyphosate, and glufosinate herbicides.
Ammonium Sulfate is also used as a food additive and in the preparation of other ammonium salts. In biochemistry, Ammonium Sulfate precipitation is a common method for purifying proteins by precipitation. As such, Ammonium Sulfate is also listed as an ingredient in many vaccines used in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).