Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Use of Wetting Agents

The Bear Trace has not been spared from the drought and heat wave that has gripped the southern US states for the past couple of months.  With less than 2" of rain falling in the last three months, and 1.37" of that coming in about an hour on July 17th, the golf course is in need of a good soaking rain.  We have, however, been able to keep the golf course healthy and looking good thanks to our use of wetting agents and continual efforts to repair and improve the irrigation system.

Wetting agents are organic and chemically derived products which help to retain or move water through the soil structure.  Use of wetting agents is not a new thing on golf courses but with federal and state restrictions on the amount of water a golf course can use and the desire by golf course superintendents to be more environmentally conscious and conservative they are being used more frequently.  I use wetting agents on my greens on a regular basis which is not hard to do...just add them to the spray rig as it is going out to fertilize or apply growth regulation products; but how do you apply wetting agents to the entire golf course in a timely and cost effective manner. 

7.5# wetting agent tablet compared to a 20 oz. bottle
We use the Aqua-Aid Maxi Proprotioner  tower to apply wetting agents to the entire golf course, or just specific areas, through the irrigation system during nightly irrigation cycles.  The proportioner is set up to use large 7.5# tablets of wetting agents which will be melted down and released into the wet well of the irrigation pump station to be picked up by the turbines and delivered through the irrigation system to the golf course.  A simple electrical timer is used to activate the proportioner so I have control over when the product is being released and when it is not.  This manner of applying wetting agents to the golf course is very efficient and cost effective.

Application rates are based on the water pressure applied to the tablets from the electric valve.  Under the severe drought conditions that we have been experiencing we have been using three tablets every 18-21 days which has allowed us to continue to keep the golf course green and healthy without having to apply excessive amounts of water.  Use of the wetting agents makes the water "wetter" and helps to bonds the water to the soil structure so the turfgrass can more readily use it.  The system is very inexpensive to purchase and operate and if you are in an area that has been hit hard by the summer heat and lack of rain you may want to research its use.


  1. Paul, This is Austin Grall at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor Michigan. I am curious if you still see uniform results throughout the golf course. We used an injection system before but it seemed to be hit or miss, we didn't see much of a result. Do you run this and then run your program at night? or do you add the tablet and run specific heads for certain areas? I have seen a study where people have put dye into there irrigation system and they would find that maybe 3 out of 4 heads would show dye and the last one would not. Have you seen anything like that? Certain areas not getting hit with the wetting agent?

  2. Austin, In all honesty we have not used this tower in several years due to the amount of rain we have gotten during the summer. I can not say whether we got total uniform coverage or not but it did help. We simply turned it on and let it run during the same time the irrigation was running at night. One of the things that we started doing to hit just certain areas was to take a hose end wetting tablet that we would use for the greens and cut it into thirds or fourths, remove the irrigation head guts, place the tablet piece under the nozzle assembly and reinsert the guts into the casing. The tablet piece will dissolve as the head is being run and you can better apply to certain areas for a fraction of the cost.