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Overhead drone image of Turf Fuel trials at University of Arkansas shows how proper wetting selection is critical to turf quality. Photo Credit: Douglas Karcher, Ph.D.

Most people would agree that balancing water and air in the soil is the key to optimal turf health. A great deal of time and money is devoted to implementing the right cultural programs, scheduling irrigation correctly, installing drainage and using wetting agents to manage soil/ water relations. Mark Jull, Manager of Turf Fuel Products Division at Target Specialty Products and Certified ISTRC Field Consultant discusses how wetting agents give turf managers an edge when balancing air and water in the soil.

1 There are many wetting agents on the market, how should one choose the right product?

A: There are many soil conditions as well. The first step in choosing the right product is to completely identify the soil conditions that are causing the problem. Localized dry spots, droughty course textured soils, slopes, compacted tight soils, and thatch layers all present different challenges that require specific solutions. We put a lot of emphasis on training our sales team to best equip them to help their customers identify their issue and prescribe the most effective solution, whether it is a cultural practice or a product application.

2 Oftentimes, superintendents have several soil conditions that need to be treated with one application, it seems impractical to use different products for each area.

A: This is very common indeed. Turf Fuel formulates products utilizing our unique polymer stacking technology. This approach combines multiple active ingredients that complement one another to give a significantly more predictable outcome across different soil types.

3 Will wetting agents lead to wet, saturated conditions if an unexpected rainfall event occurs?

A: Several years of university testing has shown that Turf Fuel Vanquish, Kraken and Distance wetting agents actually help soils drain more effectively during rain events. This is because the chemistry makes the capillary pore space more receptive to water and provides more movement through the macro pore space.

4 Most wetting agents seem to require treatment every month. Why is that?

A: Traditional polymer based products are degraded by microbial activity in the soil. Since most products provide temporary “Band-Aid” type relief, once the product is degraded the soil problem will re-emerge. The newest products on the market provide more soil remediation, than “Band-Aid” relief. Turf Fuel Cleanse is an example of a next generation remediation product.

5 How does Cleanse provide remediation?

A: Cleanse is a dual action formulation. The primary cleansing action comes from a material that dissolves hydrophobic organic acid (HOA) coatings from soil and sand particles. The removal of this HOA restores soil to its naturally highly functional state. The second component is a bio-active compound that contains enzymes and secondary metabolites – SoilSync. Soil Sync replenishes weathered, poorly functioning soil and stimulates rooting.