Surfactants increase irrigation efficiency

Surfactants, commonly called wetting agents, are products that increase water infiltration and improve water distribution uniformity in soils. They are especially helpful when applied to sandy soils which can develop an issue called hydrophobicity. Individual sand grains of hydrophobic soils get coated with organic matter and waxes from plant roots that repel water once the soil dries down. Turf grown on sand-based root zones can develops severe localized dry spots (LDS) especially when the stand is irrigated deep and infrequently. Surfactants help promote water infiltration into these hydrophobic areas which prevents and alleviates LDS. Preventative applications of surfactants should be made to high risk (sandy soils). Frequent preventative applications prevent development of LDS and increases soil water uniformity. Research at UW-Madison showed that preventative surfactant application increased soil water uniformity and sustained high visual turfgrass quality at very low levels of irrigation (30% pET)1 . Preventative applications of surfactant are a great way to increase irrigation precision which reduces water use while maximizing playing conditions. It’s an essential part of sound putting green management. Learn more about surfactant application rate and timing, modern irrigation auditing, and summer desiccation prevention at our Summer Field Day on July 22, 2015. Sign up today! Bill Kreuser, Assistant Professor, Extension Turfgrass Specialist,