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Water Is No Good If It Cannot Get In The Ground

Dave Wilber


Coming into summer, I’d like to talk about water for a few posts. It’s the thing that I seem to get the most questions about this time of year and it’s the thing that I see the most mistakes being made with. I’ll try not to get too carried away with numbers and calculations. There are some, but this is more of an example of how I approach the agronomy of water quality.

Knowledge is power. For $50-80 bucks a sample, it’s information you can’t afford not to have.

Water Test. That’s right. Test the water. Get a great water test from a great lab. I’m going to keep saying this. Even if you “think” you have good water, test it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have various water sources, test them all. If you prefer, get a sample out of a quick coupler and keep it simple. Every situation is different so use a little common sense in your sampling.

Part B of this testing thing is to plan on testing a couple times during the season. I don’t know of many situations where water quality doesn’t change a bit over the season. Knowledge is power. For $50-$80 a sample, it’s information you can’t afford not to have. If you don’t know where/what/when/why as to labs and sampling. Email me. Glad to help.


Understand basic characteristics. Water needs to get in the ground. It needs to infiltrate. There are a ton of soil factors as to water getting in the ground, but take the same soil and some different waters and you get a much different result. The chart above is some old school cool. When I look at a water test, before I look at pH and all the usual things that most people go to first, I consider SAR and ECw (salinity). So, going back to that water test, if you can’t find these numbers on the test or at least numbers representing these values that you can calculate into, then you’ve got the wrong test or you may be able to ask to be provided these numbers.

Some of you have heard about waters that are “too clean” or “too loaded”. And this chart should show you that indeed a water with not much mineral and not much salt (to oversimplify things a bit) won’t get in the ground. And in the same way, a more loaded water won’t do that well either. So, this is a really good really basic way to look at a water test and say to yourself, before you get to any of the other data, “do I have a potential issue?”. And you could take that one step farther when you plot out the water and say, “do I need to learn about SAR or Salinity to best handle my situation”.

Hopefully, your water falls into that moderate or non reduction category and you are The Golden Monkey! When water gets in the ground, it does this magic thing and pulls air with it and that’s a good thing.

Next post, I’ll show you a few real world examples and what we’ve done to deal with those situations. Again, I’m going to keep this fairly technical issue as simple as I can, because when the light goes on for Turfheads about water, it makes life a ton easier.



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