Contents

Introduction

The amenity industry is facing significant challenges, particularly due to climate change-induced prolonged droughts and changing weather patterns. This leads to difficulties in maintaining consistent playing surfaces, with increasing irrigation needs and water use restrictions. Two main issues, dry patches and water-repellent soils, worsened by climate change, affect visual aesthetics and performance. Soil surfactants are essential for addressing these issues sustainably, combating dry patches and drought stress without overusing water resources. We’ll also explore key considerations when selecting surfactant products.

Dry Patch and Water Repellent Soils

image
Drought Stress on an unirrigated fairway, June 2020

Dry patch

Defined as an area of turf that dries out and becomes difficult to re-wet even when a high volume of water is applied. It is usually characterized by the presence of a water repellent soil, i.e. a soil that does not bind easily with water molecules. This is a cause of concern to greenkeepers across the world due to reduced visual quality and surface performance.

IMG 2984
Dry patch symptoms surrounding a surfactant trial.

Water repellent soil

Water repellent soil causes water to relocate to undesirable areas resulting in localized dry spots and turf stress.
The cause of water repellent soil has been linked to the breakdown of organic materials in the root zone as part of natural plant decomposition processes and to some extent the effects of Fairy Ring fungi. These processes leave a waxy organic coating on the soil and sand particles which prevents water molecules from binding to them.

image 1
A typical Fairy Ring on the surface of a sand based putting green.

Drought Stress

Drought stress is a separate issue – there does not need to be water repellent soil present.
It is often a consequence of another turf problem such as compaction or uneven irrigation coverage. In many cases, a golf green may have both dry patch and drought stress.

Factors leading to turf drought stress:

  • The main reason for this problem is poor irrigation coverage.
  • Weak turfgrass rooting from a variety of causes including soil pests and high foot traffic.
  • Frequent mowing at low heights of which can reduce the natural resistance of turf against drought.

What are Surfactants?

Surfactants, or surface active agents, are chemicals that lower the tension between water and solid surfaces, such as soil. They work by disrupting the strong cohesive forces between water molecules, reducing surface tension and improving wetting ability.

image 2
The left image demonstrates water beading on the surface due to its surface tension. The right photo shows water droplets with a surfactant added which breaks the surface tension and allows water to spread.

Surfactants not only aid water penetration into the soil but also promote even distribution throughout the soil profile. This benefits drought-stressed turf by improving water uptake by plant roots and ensuring a more uniform playing surface.
Imagine surfactants as bridges linking water-repellent soil particles with water molecules, facilitating the re-wetting of soil.

How will Surfactants help?

Surfactants are extensively utilized in the amenity turfgrass industry, particularly in maintaining golf courses and sports pitches to combat drought stress and water repellency issues. There are three main reasons for why using surfactants will help during spring and summer:

  1. Improving water distribution in the rootzone, ensuring water penetrates the soil and is available to the plant’s entire root system.
  2. Temporarily overcoming soil water repellency by binding to organic coatings and water molecules, facilitating soil wetting.
  3. Allowing for reduced irrigation frequency and increased water use efficiency by promoting quick water penetration into the soil profile, minimizing water loss through evaporation or runoff.
image 4
Controlled environment drought studies on Lolium perenne. Left image is treated with water only. Right image is treated with a HITAS wetting agent.

HITAS Surfactant Range

• Agricultural Water Conservation Agents
• Penetrant Wetting Agent
• Fairway Wetting Agent
• Curative Wetting Agent
• Program Application Wetting Agent
• Dew Disperser
• Wetting Agent Granules
• Wetting Agent Hose End & Irrigation Tablets
• Adjuvants

HITAS has a range of expertise and can formulate a complete product offering relating to smart water use. For further information on our complete surfactant range please visit www.hitas.co.uk.

Introduction

The amenity industry is facing significant challenges, particularly due to climate change-induced prolonged droughts and changing weather patterns. This leads to difficulties in maintaining consistent playing surfaces, with increasing irrigation needs and water use restrictions. Two main issues, dry patches and water-repellent soils, worsened by climate change, affect visual aesthetics and performance. Soil surfactants are essential for addressing these issues sustainably, combating dry patches and drought stress without overusing water resources. We’ll also explore key considerations when selecting surfactant products.

Dry Patch and Water Repellent Soils

image
Drought Stress on an unirrigated fairway, June 2020

Dry patch

Defined as an area of turf that dries out and becomes difficult to re-wet even when a high volume of water is applied. It is usually characterized by the presence of a water repellent soil, i.e. a soil that does not bind easily with water molecules. This is a cause of concern to greenkeepers across the world due to reduced visual quality and surface performance.

IMG 2984
Dry patch symptoms surrounding a surfactant trial.

Water repellent soil

Water repellent soil causes water to relocate to undesirable areas resulting in localized dry spots and turf stress.
The cause of water repellent soil has been linked to the breakdown of organic materials in the root zone as part of natural plant decomposition processes and to some extent the effects of Fairy Ring fungi. These processes leave a waxy organic coating on the soil and sand particles which prevents water molecules from binding to them.

image 1
A typical Fairy Ring on the surface of a sand based putting green.

Drought Stress

Drought stress is a separate issue – there does not need to be water repellent soil present.
It is often a consequence of another turf problem such as compaction or uneven irrigation coverage. In many cases, a golf green may have both dry patch and drought stress.

Factors leading to turf drought stress:

  • The main reason for this problem is poor irrigation coverage.
  • Weak turfgrass rooting from a variety of causes including soil pests and high foot traffic.
  • Frequent mowing at low heights of which can reduce the natural resistance of turf against drought.

What are Surfactants?

Surfactants, or surface active agents, are chemicals that lower the tension between water and solid surfaces, such as soil. They work by disrupting the strong cohesive forces between water molecules, reducing surface tension and improving wetting ability.

image 2
The left image demonstrates water beading on the surface due to its surface tension. The right photo shows water droplets with a surfactant added which breaks the surface tension and allows water to spread.

Surfactants not only aid water penetration into the soil but also promote even distribution throughout the soil profile. This benefits drought-stressed turf by improving water uptake by plant roots and ensuring a more uniform playing surface.
Imagine surfactants as bridges linking water-repellent soil particles with water molecules, facilitating the re-wetting of soil.

How will Surfactants help?

Surfactants are extensively utilized in the amenity turfgrass industry, particularly in maintaining golf courses and sports pitches to combat drought stress and water repellency issues. There are three main reasons for why using surfactants will help during spring and summer:

  1. Improving water distribution in the rootzone, ensuring water penetrates the soil and is available to the plant’s entire root system.
  2. Temporarily overcoming soil water repellency by binding to organic coatings and water molecules, facilitating soil wetting.
  3. Allowing for reduced irrigation frequency and increased water use efficiency by promoting quick water penetration into the soil profile, minimizing water loss through evaporation or runoff.
image 4
Controlled environment drought studies on Lolium perenne. Left image is treated with water only. Right image is treated with a HITAS wetting agent.

HITAS Surfactant Range

• Agricultural Water Conservation Agents
• Penetrant Wetting Agent
• Fairway Wetting Agent
• Curative Wetting Agent
• Program Application Wetting Agent
• Dew Disperser
• Wetting Agent Granules
• Wetting Agent Hose End & Irrigation Tablets
• Adjuvants

HITAS has a range of expertise and can formulate a complete product offering relating to smart water use. For further information on our complete surfactant range please visit www.hitas.co.uk.

Contents

See also