Summer Localized Dry Spot
Localized dry spots become more of a problem in the summer heat and stress. Enough water is not available to the turf, and it goes under stress. Several factors contribute to LDS, such as compaction, slope, thatch, and water repellency.
Compacted or tighter soils inhibit water from getting into the soil, specifically down into the root zone. If there is a slope or hill, the problem is even more dramatic as water will want to run off before it can soak in. Heavy thatch can keep the water at the surface and not let it get into the soil below. To address this, simply applying a soil-penetrating surfactant can help move the water in. These soil-penetrating products are known as infiltration surfactants. They help break the surface tension of the water and help it move into the profile and root zone. Products like Command, Diversion, and Aqueous are all in this category of soil infiltration products. They will work for 2-4 weeks, depending on the rates used.
When there is true localized dry spot, the soil is actually coated with organic matter. It will inhibit the water from moving in and also reduces that area from being able to hold water. There are stronger soil surfactants that bond to the turf and provide sites for water to attach even if the soil is coated with the organic coating. People often ask what the coating is comprised of. The answer is organic residues from decaying organic matter. When tested, they are predominately humic and fulvic acids that act almost like a waxy, surface-repelling water. This decreases the soil’s ability to maintain enough water to meet the plants’ needs. The soil surfactants that help regain water-holding capacity are called hydration soil surfactants. An example of a hydration soil surfactant is Matador.
All soils have varying degrees of water-holding capacity. Clay soils naturally hold more water, while sands are more porous and typically allow water to move through better. But sandy soils can become even more water-repellent. So now, even if you get the water to move into the sand-based soils, it doesn’t attach, and the water is not retained to provide moisture to the turf. So depending on soil types and other issues, we often need to be able to both get water into the soil and then hold water to provide to the plants.
Soil surfactants like Percolate, Kastella, and Infiltrip are combination products that would meet those needs. All three are combinations of both infiltrating and hydrating chemistries. They vary in ratios, so you can dial in the amount of penetration and holding you need. They are designed to move water off the surface, so playability is still firm on top while helping to keep water in the rootzone.
Infiltrip is more penetration and less holding. Percolate and Kastella are more hydration while still having penetration ingredients added.
As you fight the summer with higher temperatures and moisture stress to the turf, consider soil surfactants to address your needs. Your Advanced Turf rep can help you choose the best product or tank mix to get the water in and then keep more available to the turf.
Precision Laboratories LLC