Monday, November 29, 2010

Drought Misconceptions


1.       Applying Nitrogen and other fertilizers.  Frequently, when the grass tends to show signs of new growth, especially during times of stress, fertilizer is quickly applied in attempt to promote continued new growth and bring the turf back to be more acceptable to golf.  The addition of fertilizer, especially nitrogen, (in the water-soluble forms), simply promotes excessive leaf blade growth.  This form of growth promotes fat cells, thin cell walls and draws other storage products, not related to nitrogen or nitrogen plant reactions, from the plant stores which causes deficiencies that lead to weakening of the plant.  The form of weakening differs within plant species and according to soil characteristics, biological and microbiological soil reactions and production.  Such weakening usually results in the attraction of diseases, insects, as well as making the plant more susceptible to other adversities. 

2.       APPLYING QUICK ACTING WATER-SOLUBLE FERTILIZERS.  Quick acting fertilizers are primarily formulated with water-soluble nutrient salts.  The grass quickly absorbs these water soluble salt fertilizer nutrient elements.  Salt concentration increases within the grass.  Higher levels within the plant cells, especially during drought and periods of stress, diminish the ability of the plant to function naturally and effectively.  Higher levels of salt require more water intake, to keep the salt in diluted solutions.  Thus, water requirements increase and the plant functions decrease, allowing the plant to become more susceptible to damage from drought. 

3.       NORMAL PLANT OSMOSIS REACTIONS ARE HAZZARDLY REVERSED.  The organic salts within the turf grass cells are, under normal natural prairie conditions, of higher concentration within the plant than the salt content within the soil.  The higher salt level within the plant attracts and pulls water and other materials through the cell walls into the plant.  This natural, and important reaction, which occurs and is required to occur all of the time, is called OSMOSIS.  The plant does not have any pump or means of drawing water and materials into it’s root system, OSMOSIS, a natural system, is the only way water and raw materials can be absorbed and transported within the plant.

When salts within the soil increase to levels that are of higher concentration than the salts within the plant cells, the soil then has the ability to pull water and ingredients from the plant.  This reverse reaction, called REVERSE OSMOSIS, a very negative occurrence.  When this reverse osmosis occurs during a drought, or under conditions of stress, the plant loses water extremely fast, the cells become dehydrated, the plant withers and weakens most quickly to become very susceptible to disease, insects, and other adversities.  REVERSE OSMOSIS is stimulated to occur, (explode) when “salty” chemical fertilizers, micronutrients, and even pesticides are applied.   The higher the soil salt content, the more turf grass damage.


As the salt concentration increases in the soil, the first life forms to be killed are the beneficial soil microbes.  When the concentration of salts in the soil become higher than the salts within the soil microbe’s bodies, the microbes are quickly killed.  The negative effects of their quick death are not usually noticed until several days or weeks afterwards when their by-product enzymes, etc. are not available for grass root absorption.  The grass begins to weaken and becomes most susceptible to invasions of disease, insects, weeds and other adversities.

5.       AGRICULTURAL LAW:  Every increase of 10 degrees F, doubles the rate of reaction

If, for instance, one ounce of chemical is applied to 1,000 sq. ft. of soil in the early morning when the soil temperature is say 70 degrees F. If the soil warms to 80 degrees by 11:00 a.m., the rate of chemical reaction will double, or become the equivalent having two ounces of chemical initially applied.  When the soil temperature rises to 90 degrees by 2:00 p.m., the rate of reaction will double again to become the equivalent of having initially four ounces of chemical initially applied.  This type of multiplying reactions continue and cause rapid negative reactions within the soil as well as within the plant, especially in the South where soil temperatures are know to increase to excesses of 100 degrees plus by the time the late afternoon arrives.  Frequently these reactions are the cause of multiple problems and turf grass deaths in the South, especially during high temperature and drought conditions.  Care must always be taken when applying any chemicals during the hot days of summer.  NOTE:  This form of reactions does not occur with the application of most natural substances.


During the cool, wet weather of fall, winter and spring, water usually dissolves, and flushes surface salts to lower levels in the soil where they usually can accumulate in large quantities. 

As the weather becomes warmer, the soil dries out at the surface.  As the soil surface dries, subsurface water is attracted to the surface.  As this water, saturated with salts, begins to rise it brings dissolved salts to the surface to increase the soils salt content and to change the soil into becoming more hazardous to turf grass and associated life forms.


Microscopic life forms, including many varieties and species of bacteria, yeast, molds, fungi, virus, protozoa, algae and others live in the soil.  Some require free air, they are called the AEROBIC microbes.  They absorb Oxygen and release carbon dioxide and produce many forms of enzymes, hormones and organic compounds.  These compounds are used by other microbes (as a source of food energy) and by plants (as a source of raw materials necessary for the plant to use as required).  

Other soil microbes can only live under wet, soggy, compact conditions without free air, they are called the ANAEROBIC microbes.  They obtain their oxygen and other gases from living and dead plants and/or microorganisms.  Characteristically, some can absorb carbon from their food source, obtain oxygen and other gases from the food and can release oxygen.  However, the hazardous anaerobic microorganisms release carbon monoxide and methane gas.  These gases kill grass roots and desirable microorganisms,

There are the “Good and Bad” microbes.  The “Good” ones produce enzymes, hormones, and organics.  These are vital substances are continually absorbed by grass roots, translocated to other plant areas to use in their life building production processes.  These processes manufacture various substances that develop essential characteristics, such as: building immunity and defense systems, stimulating healing, warding off attacks of pestilence, developing aggressive, dominant growth of the species, withstanding wear/tear, droughts, floods and other adversities as well as providing special natural characteristics ideal for golf.  Some of the “Good Guys” are capable of attacking and killing the “Bad Guys” as well as releasing substances to prevent attacks of other plants, pathogenic and undesirable microbes.  Most provide services that improve the soil physically, chemically, biologically and environmentally as well as many other benefits too numerous to mention at this time.

The “Bad” microbes live under conditions that cannot be tolerated by the “Good” microbes.  Some directly attack and kill the “Good Guys”.  Others release substances and gases that weaken and kill the desirable grasses and essential beneficial microbes associated with the growth of desirable microbes associated with strong aggressive turf grass growth.  These undesirable microorganism release substances that are required by other plants and life forms to live and eventually weaken the grass and stimulate other life forms and plants to invade and eventually smother and kill the desirable grass (Poa annua, Crabgrass, and several other weeds).

In the past, the management of turf grasses has dealt with supplying nutrients (water-soluble salt forms, highly reactive chelates, unnatural chemical and organics to grow and control turf as effectively as possible.

The demand has always been to eliminate the attack of pests, that had become known to contribute the most in causing destruction and weakening to the desirable grasses. 

Chemical companies, universities, pharmaceutical and many other firms and individuals have done a splendid job of researching and developing many forms of killing materials to effectively kill and eliminate active forms of disease, insects, weeds, and other parasites.  

The continual use, misuse, and unknown side reactions of these synthetic, unnatural materials, at times, have the ability to either increase their reactivity as the soil heats up to increase their range of kill, which can include the desirable life forms.  Other types of reactions can occur when these ingredients build up in the soil to create other types of reactions, develop other forms of products and provide new, unnatural and, at times, highly toxic and/or undesirable reactions. 

Bare in mind, we do not condemn these products or their use in controlling pests.  They work faster and better than many of the available natural controls.  Under most epidemic attacks, they must be used to save the grass quickly.  However, none have been proven to produce a more permenant, long lasting control.  These killers must be used whenever targeted pests attack and/or some must be used frequently and continuously as a means of prevention.  And, frankly, under severe conditions, they must be continually used to provide necessary controls that they, and only they can effectively provide.