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Irrigation Water: Friend or Foe?

June 1, 2018 | Categories: ,
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Applying irrigation water to your soil does not always mean only water was added. Other non-beneficial elements may be lurking in that water.

One issue that can find its way into your irrigation water and ultimately cause problems with your turf is algae. Algae and other aquatic weeds grow in creeks and ponds on golf courses. Algae can find its way from your irrigation source, into your irrigation heads, pump stations and then onto your course. Sometimes it can even clog your irrigation, damaging filters, pumps, and valves.

Several of our manufacturer partners have products to reduce these populations. SePro’s Captain XTR and Clearcast (particularly good at controlling cattails), Nufarm’s Suregard SC, Precision Laboratories Precise Pond and Deluxe (controls weeds in the water and on the bank), and Alligare’s Glyphosate 41 are great aquatic tools for controlling algae and other aquatic weeds.

With these products, you are treating the pond to treat irrigation issues. Place them in a holding pond, where the irrigation is drawn out of for treatment. Treating lakes and ponds is just like treating golf greens. If you get behind, it’s hard to catch up. So, treatment needs to be done as early as possible each year.

High levels of sodium are another harmful problem that can impact your turf from irrigation water. High levels of sodium in water can create sodium wilt. These localized dry spots can appear on greens that are water deficient.

The cause of this problem can be a high concentration of sodium in water, the soil, or both. So, testing the water when testing the soil is important. If the irrigation has high sodium levels, and you neglected to have it tested, every time you irrigate it would be like you are taking a salt shaker to your course. Gypsum applications are one method that will aid in flushing the sodium out of the soil placed there by irrigation water.

Sometimes the course water and the soil combine to become so out of balance that the turfgrass plant cannot take up nutrients. In this instance, we need to feed the turfgrass plant by foliar. Foliar-Pak products are specifically formulated to help turfgrass plants take up nutrients by foliar, so, they would be beneficial in this situation. Add in wetting agents, like Foliar-Pak’s Command, Aquatrol’s Revolution, and Precision Lab’s Vivax, Triplo, and Duplex help even more by moving water and nutrients into the correct zone so the plant can take it up.

Fun fact about water from the EPA: The earth has the same amount of water on it today that it when it was formed. So, the water you use on your golf course could very well contain molecules that dinosaurs drank.