Solutions 4 Turf

The Science in the Surfactants

Posted by Golf Course Industry on Jun 2, 2018 5:41:47 PM
Golf Course Industry

What makes the AQUA-AID surfactant technology so unique, and the significance of the multi-branched technology?
Randy Petrea:

AQUA-AID offers a patented premium line of surfactants to enable the superintendent to manage water requirements with respect to soil, available water, weather and plant health.

Aqua-Aid premium surfactants include: OARS PS (Penetration) -- Organic Acid Redistributing System plus a hexa-functional multi-branched penetrant molecule; OARS HS (Hydration) -- Organic Acid Redistributing System plus an octa-functional multi-branched hydrating molecule; and PBS 150 -- Polyfunctional patented multi-branched surfactant.

As for multibranched regenerating wetting agents, these molecules differ from the traditional linear copolymer molecules in that they are much higher in molecular weight and have multiple interactive sites, such that each branch is essentially a wetting agent in itself. Branching, coupled with higher molecule weight, not only increases the interaction between the wetting agent and the soil, but also affects the biodegradation profile. As one branch is removed via biodegradation, a new lower molecular weight surface active species is regenerated to continue to manage the water in the soil profile. The use of these molecules on turfgrass was patented in 2005 by Milliken & Co. Examples of these compounds are found in PBS-150 and the OARS product line.

Many superintendents associate surfactants with moving moisture through the soil profile. However, it seems it’s really more about hydration. Please expand on that?

Hydration can be equated to uniform water management. Depending on the design of the surfactant system, both penetration of water into the soil and uniform water retention (hydration) within the soil can be achieved. For soils that are very hydrophobic, a strongly penetrating surfactant may be required to achieve the proper level of hydration. Both water penetration and hydration are a result of the surfactant molecule attachment onto the soil particles, which then interact with rain or applied water, to achieve the desired moisture content. Different areas on a golf course, while receiving the same amount of moisture, may require different levels of hydration for optimum conditions and plant health.

A unique feature of AQUA-AID surfactant chemistries is that they can be combined to achieve the individual grower’s requirements to maintain the optimum level of hydration. As mentioned previously, some areas may need more moisture penetration whereas other areas may need to retain more moisture. AQUA-AID’s Dial-In approach allows for those adjustments.

OARS HS/PS is paired with an organic acid redistribution system. Why is this important for turf health?

Humic substance redistribution molecules - This class of wetting aids were patented by Milliken and Company and introduced to the Turf industry by AQUA-AID in 2003. These molecules allow water penetration through the soil profile by disrupting the hydrophobic supramolecular humic associations, most prevalent in the top 1-2 centimeters of the soil, that lead to localized dry spots. Reduction in size of the large hydrophobic associations into smaller more soluble conformations result in increased water penetration and allows for redistribution of these “smaller compounds” from the surface, where they cause water management issues, through the soil profile where they may be beneficial to moisture control. Better moisture control is directly proportional to improved plant health. Examples of these compounds are found in the OARS® product line.

Summer turf stress is on every superintendent’s mind right now. How does a surfactant like PBS150 help improve stress tolerance?

PBS-150 helps improve stress tolerance by providing a more uniform, hydrated soil profile versus standard linear copolymers. This is due to molecular build and the increased number of moisture interactive sites in PBS-150. More water interactive sites in the molecule provide a more uniform moisture profile which leads to a better distribution of water soluble nutrients and chemistries applied. This uniformity reduces run-off and leads to maximum use of the inputs typically applied to achieve premium growing/playing conditions.

Compared to other surfactants, are the AQUA-AID products applied any differently? Are any special procedures or precautions involved with their use?

All AQUA-AID surfactants are safe to apply at label rates. The unique chemistries of OARS HS/PS and PBS150 allow less total ounces to be applied over a growing season to achieve the same or greater efficacy than linear surfactants.

Can you tell me a little about the return on investment (ROI) in using surfactants like OARS HS/PS and PBS150? 

ROI using OARS HS/PS and PBS-150 is not only achieved with a reduction in water usage, as much as 40 percent as measured in university research, but also with a reduction in other associated costs. Reduction in water required leads to less electricity for fewer irrigation cycles, less labor for hand watering, less applied nutrients, quicker recovery and a drier surface for fast firm greens.

Topics: PBS150, Surfactant, Golf Course, Moisture Management, Hydrating Surfactant