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Soil pH: The Foundation for Nutrient Availability

Low soil pH can reduce yield Soil pH is considered by soil scientists to be a master variable that affects a wide range of chemical and biological processes in the soil. Low pH (below 6.0) can reduce your yield substantially. Nutrient availability is at the crux of this detrimental effect on yield. It’s important to know what is recommended by experts in your state with respect to target pH. Typically, most states in the Midwest recommend a pH of 6.0 – 6.5 to maximize yield while considering liming investment.  Every nutrient’s availability is affected by soil pH Soil pH is the foundation of and main governor of soil fertility. Every nutrient’s availability to plants and behavior in soil is affected by soil pH, some more so than others, which is why correcting and maintaining pH at adequate levels is so important. Phosphorous (P) availability is the nutrient most hindered by…

Aerification and SO4

Aerification contributes to healthy turf The most scrutinized word in the professional turf industry might be aerification. If golfers arrive to the course and see a “plinko” board on the putting surfaces, they immediately assume that their experience for the day is going to be ruined. This doesn’t have to be the case. Sure, it may not look good but that doesn’t mean they won’t play good. Consider a story I heard about Tom Watson, eight-time major champion. Tom arrived at his home course and shot a course record 58, just days after the greens had been aerified. What golfers don’t realize but superintendents do is that aerification is a necessary practice to provide the healthiest turf possible. This is a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits. The GCSAA explains the aerification process achieves three important objectives: 1. It relieves soil compaction.2. It provides a method to improve the soil…

Localized Dry Spot

What is localized dry spot? With an unusually hot start to the late spring/summer season, localized dry spot (LDS) is showing up earlier and more vigorously than normal. LDS shows up as somewhat randomized, dry looking areas of turf. It is generally seen on sand-based greens, but can occur on other turfs that have been heavily topdressed with sand over the years. Sand-based soil has greater propensity for hydrophobic conditions, which is the main sign of LDS. What causes localized dry spot?The deeper cause, beyond sand-based soils, are believed to be organic acids and residue that coat the soil or sand particles. These organic compounds are not completely understood, but are the result of typical decomposition of leaf tissue, roots, fungal biomass and organic soil amendments included in the original root zone mix. These compounds tend to have a hydrophobic nature and once they have coated soil particles, lead to…

Natural vs. Synthetic Gypsum

What is Gypsum?Gypsum is a mineral that has been used in agriculture for a long time. Its chemical name is calcium sulfate dihydrate (CaSO4 • 2H2O). It provides a sulfur source in the plant available form, sulfate, and provides calcium – both essential nutrients in crop production. SO4 is naturally mined gypsumSO4 is pelletized from gypsum that is naturally mined in northwest Iowa. Gypsum deposits were left behind when inland seas that used to cover Iowa dried up and receded. Synthetic gypsum is a byproduct of burning coalIn contrast, synthetic gypsum (photo above) is a byproduct of burning coal. This source is commonly referred to as synthetic or flue gas desulfurized (FGD) gypsum. Power plants have ‘scrubbers’ that control emissions from their flue stacks. The process in its entirety is called flue gas desulfurization. In short, these scrubbers filter by forcing sulfur dioxide and calcium carbonate (limestone) to react with…


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