Golf courses are expected to be a luxurious bounty of nature, from manicured even fairways for great playability to thick, lush roughs. As a golf course superintendent, maintaining your course’s turfgrass is an evolving challenge and you may find yourself in a battle over issues plaguing grass, particularly soil that doesn’t efficiently absorb water, leading to unsightly dry spots.
Hydrophobic soil—or soil with particles that repel water—is a common and frustrating problem for many in the golf course management industry. Fortunately, wetting agents are a great solution to this issue.
What are wetting agents?
Wetting agents for turfgrass, also called soil surfactants, are chemical compounds that improve the soil’s ability to absorb water by decreasing its surface tension, per GCMOnline.com. The easier it is for the soil to absorb water, the more can be absorbed by plant roots, and the healthier your turfgrass will be.
Also, wetting agents can be used to dry down overly wet soil, which can help avoid issues like root suffocation or nutrient deficiency.
Granular vs. Liquid Wetting Agents
There are two main types of wetting agents: granular and liquid. Granular wetting agents are used in many situations on different sites, like golf courses. They are designed to address issues like water repellency, poor infiltration rates, and localized dry spots. The product is applied with granular spreaders and then watered in after application.
Contrarily, liquid wetting agents can be used when the soil’s moisture level is relatively high. It’s important to note that granular products are also used to dry down soils. Liquid wetting agents are applied with sprayers, and should also be watered in after the initial application.
Once wetting agents are watered in, both granular and liquid wetting agents generally work in the same way: by distributing water evenly throughout the soil.
Making the choice between granular or liquid wetting agents is usually based on what is easier for the turf manager or golf course superintendent to use, though there are other factors to consider.
What factors should you consider when selecting your wetting agent?
Like with any decision you have to make to maintain the health of your golf course’s turfgrass, there are important factors to consider when selecting the proper wetting agent to use.
Here are the major elements to factor in when determining what wetting agent is best for you:
- Soil type: Different soils have different properties, such as particle size distribution, organic matter content, and drainage abilities. These properties affect water movement and retention in the soil, and therefore, the effectiveness of wetting agents.
- Water quality: The quality of the water you use for irrigation can impact the effectiveness of wetting agents. Hard water with high mineral content can reduce the performance of wetting agents.
- Climate: Weather can affect the efficiency of wetting agents based on how it impacts water’s natural cycle, specifically evaporation. High temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds can increase water evaporation rates, reducing the longevity of the product.
- Turfgrass species: Different types of turfgrass have varying watering needs, and will react differently to wetting agents. Therefore, some turfgrass species may require higher or lower application rates than others.
- Application method: The application method is a vital part of the process, and can affect the distribution and product’s effectiveness. Spraying or watering the wetting agent solution can help to ensure even coverage and improve penetration into the soil.
- Cost: The cost of wetting agents can vary. Every superintendent has to work within a budget, so finding a product that performs well while being cost-effective can be challenging.
Reinders has a great selection of quality wetting agents at competitive prices that are designed to solve your problems. Our turfgrass team has compiled a few recommendations that should help you find the best product for your golf course!
This non-phytotoxic granular wetting agent is easy to apply to turfgrass, including greens, slopes, bunker edges, and approaches. It’s designed to treat localized dry spots by encouraging uniform distribution of water through the rootzone and also in and through the thatch layer.
Applications of TriCure Granular should begin when ambient temperatures reach 55-60° F, normally in early spring. In warmer climates, application should be year-round, or when environmental stress conditions begin to impact turf performance.
This is not your standard wetting agent. Plant Food’s Hydration A-Plus penetrant can be applied to tees, greens, and fairways, and then only needs a quick 3-5 minute rinse in the evening.
If this product is right for your course, it’s an awesome way to save money and conserve water while solving the issue of localized dry spots.
Terafirm is a non-phytotoxic soil penetrant developed to promote accelerated water movement away from the soil surface. This is accomplished by reducing the water’s surface tension and facilitating downward water movement.
Regular use of Terafirm offers the turf professional an effective tool to help maintain drier soil surface conditions.