What is a wetting agent / surfactant and why are they so useful for dealing with water management issues on golf courses, such as dry areas, which can have a profound effect on performance of surface ? Here, Aquatrols provides the answers.

The dry start of 2021 has made water management a top concern for turf managers around the world. But what does this really mean? To fully understand the benefits of a programmed approach to water management, it is a good idea to go back to basics and first understand the water itself, why it behaves the way it does. and what tools are available to ensure a successful and stress free season. .

The chemical formula of water is H20, which tells us that a water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. H2O is neutral, which means it does not carry any net charge. However, it is a strongly polar molecule in that it carries a partial positive charge near the hydrogen atoms on one end and a partial negative charge near the oxygen atoms on the other. As you know, opposites attract, and it is this attraction that allows water molecules to interact with each other and with other surfaces.

Wetting agents help overcome repellency issues so water moves evenly through the soil profile, promoting healthier turf

There are two main forces at play when it comes to water are cohesion and adhesion. Cohesion is the force that causes water molecules to be attracted to each other; it reduces the surface area and is the reason why water forms droplets. Adhesion is the attraction of water to other surfaces; it reduces surface tension to allow water to spread over a surface. We see cohesion and buy-in happening all around us in our daily lives. For example, when a dragonfly lands on a pond, it is the cohesive force that brings water molecules together and creates surface tension that allows it to walk on the surface of the water. When we are stuck indoors on a rainy day and water droplets run down the glass, it is the adhesion that allows the droplets to stick to the surface of the glass.

To create a uniform and consistent wetting front in the soil profile, it is important to understand how these two forces affect the behavior of water in soils. One of the most common water management issues on the golf course is the dry area, where soil particles have become hydrophobic or water repellent. Water repellency occurs when soil particles are covered with a waxy residue, often the result of the activity of microbes and organic matter. This coating disrupts the ability of water to adhere to soil particles, preventing it from effectively penetrating and crossing the soil profile. Cohesion then becomes the strongest force, allowing water molecules to cling tightly to each other in larger droplets that have difficulty in penetrating the soil surface and / or are pulled unevenly through the gravity profile.

Water repellency can cause water to move unevenly through the soil profile, channeling water past the grass roots

Whether you call them wetting, wetting, penetrating or surfactant agents, they all have the same function: correcting water repellency problems by restoring the balance between cohesive and adhesive forces in the soil profile. A surfactant molecule is cleverly designed to have both a hydrophobic (water repellent) and a hydrophilic (water-loving) part. The hydrophobic part attaches to the hydrophobic coatings on the soil particles and the hydrophilic part attaches to the water molecule, acting as a bridge between the two so that the water can again move more evenly through the profile.

When choosing a surfactant, there is more to consider than just overcoming water repellency. The main reason we all prepare golf courses is to create the best performing surfaces possible with the resources at our disposal while of course ensuring that the health of the plants is optimal. Surfactants are not only essential in managing your water, but can have a significant positive impact on the depth of your roots, the species composition of grasses, the firmness of the surface and, ultimately, the performance of your plant. surface such as speed and accuracy. Choosing the wrong surfactant technology can very easily create soft, supportive surfaces that are shallow and prone to disease attack. Conversely, choosing the right technology for your site can ensure you have healthy, firm surfaces that don’t suffer from the effects of stress created by dry conditions.

Aquatrols specializes in soil surfactant technologies, having developed and introduced the world’s first soil surfactant in 1955. Since then we have been pioneering new technology innovation and are passionate about helping all turf managers to overcome their water management challenges and promote strong, healthy turf. We all have the same end goal: to create the perfect surface for the perfect game. The right surfactant can play a vital role in achieving this goal. The Aquatrols technical team in the field would love to be part of this journey on your course. If you think we can help you, please contact your Aquatrols Territory Manager.

For more information, visit eu.aquatrols.com



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