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GTS Analytical & Diagnostic Services

Collecting the right data to develop the best turf management plan for your facility.

At GTS, we believe that analytical & diagnostic services are a cornerstone of turf management plans in all growing areas.

Making Informed Decisions
Client type: Turf Farm growing hybrid green couch
Symptoms: Lack of vigour and minimal growth response to fertiliser
Date: 08/02/2022
Prepared by: Paul Spencer, Senior Agronomist, GTS.
Contact Information:

This article focusses on identifying issues that were affecting a paddock of hybrid green couch turf on a turf farm. Despite the turf being alive, it was showing signs of distress and wasn't responding well to fertilisers. To pinpoint the underlying  problems and find solutions, analytical testing of both the soil and irrigation water was conducted. Here's a breakdown of the process and the results.

Initial Inspection and Decision to Test

The turf in this specific paddock was exhibiting distress, and conventional fertilisation methods were not yielding the desired results. To get to the root of the problem, it was decided to perform analytical testing on both the soil and the irrigation water source being used on the farm.

Analytical Testing

Representative samples of both the soil from the paddock and the irrigation water source were collected  and submitted for analytical testing. This step is crucial because it provides concrete data about the

composition and quality of the soil and water, helping to identify the underlying issues.

Analytical Results

The laboratory test results were instrumental in understanding the reasons behind the poor turf response.  Here's a summary of the key findings:​

Soil Sample Results
  • Severely high levels of sodium (Na): Excessive sodium in the soil can be detrimental to plant health.

  • Alkaline soil pH: High soil pH can hinder nutrient availability to plants.

  • Low levels of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg): These are essential nutrients for plant growth.

  • Cation imbalance as a percentage of base saturation: An imbalance in cations can affect nutrient uptake by plants.

Water Sample Results
  • Alkaline pH: High pH in irrigation water can contribute to alkaline soil conditions.

  • High level of bicarbonate: Elevated bicarbonate levels can negatively impact soil and plant health.

  • High level of sodium: High sodium in irrigation water can exacerbate soil sodium levels.

  • High adjusted SAR (Sodium Adsorption Ratio): SAR is an indicator of the sodium hazard in irrigation water.

  • Precipitating (locking up) calcium and magnesium: This can lead to reduced availability of these essential nutrients.

Undesirable Impacts of Bicarbonates 

When irrigation water with high bicarbonate levels is applied to turf, it can raise the pH of the soil. Most turfgrasses thrive in slightly acidic to neutral pH conditions. Elevated pH levels can hinder nutrient availability and uptake by the turf, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies.

Reduced Water Quality: Irrigation water with high bicarbonate levels may not provide the best water quality for turf. The presence of bicarbonates can lead to mineral deposits and clogging in irrigation equipment, reducing the efficiency of the irrigation system. This can result in uneven water distribution and potentially stress the turf.

Calcium Precipitation: High bicarbonate levels can lead to the precipitation of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the soil. This can create a white, crusty layer on the soil surface known as "scaling" or "lime accumulation." Excessive scaling can reduce water infiltration and disrupt the movement of water and nutrients in the soil, making it harder for turfgrass roots to access essential resources.

Cation Exchange Capacity: High bicarbonate levels can impact the soil's cation exchange capacity (CEC), which affects the soil's ability to hold and exchange essential nutrients (such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium) with plant roots. When bicarbonate levels are elevated, they can interfere with the availability of these nutrients, potentially leading to deficiencies or imbalances.

Salinity Concerns: In some cases, high bicarbonate levels can be associated with elevated levels of total dissolved solids (TDS), which include various salts. Elevated TDS can contribute to soil salinity problems, which can be detrimental to turf health. High salinity can hinder water uptake by plants and lead to salt stress, causing damage to turfgrass.

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The results of the analytical testing clearly demonstrate how irrigation water quality can significantly affect soil health and, consequently, the quality of the turf. Left unaddressed, these issues would have continued to deteriorate the turf quality. However, with a clear understanding of the problems, a turf management plan can be developed. This plan should involve the use of appropriate products and practices to mitigate the undesirable elements identified in the soil and irrigation water.

In essence, this article underscores the importance of informed decision-making in turf management. By diagnosing and addressing specific issues related to soil and water quality, turf managers can optimise the conditions for turf growth and maintain its quality. GTS strives to be a resource that provides the right advice, support, and products to help turf managers make these informed decisions and achieve the best possible results in turf management.

Managing Bicarbonates

To mitigate the negative effects of high bicarbonate levels in irrigation water on turf, various strategies can be employed. One of the most effective products available to turf managers working with high bicarbonate irrigation water is Dropzone.

Dropzone Aids in Soil Recovery
If you're uncertain about the quality of your irrigation water and the impacts it could be having on your soil and turf health, conduct an irrigation water and soil test with GTS Analytical today to get the full picture.
What is Dropzone?

Dropzone is a unique blend of organic acids and nutrients that are essential for bicarbonate removal and soil recovery. The organic acids chelate insoluble compounds. This has 2 main benefits:
1.    Insoluble compounds are made available to the plant.
2.    Unlocked calcium can now assist in removal of unwanted sodium from the soil.

The Dropzone formulation also includes calcium to further assist with the process of sodium removal. Ultimately, the results of using Dropzone are improved soil quality and renewed increases int calcium, phosphorus, and other plant nutrients.

Benefits of Dropzone

  • Reduces bicarbonate levels.

  • Reduces pH.

  • Solubilises calcium and phosphorus.

  • Reduces sodium.

  • Improves nutrient uptake.

  • Contains no chlorides.

  • Contains calcium, nitrogen and iron.

Anayltical Results
Undesirable Impacts of Bicarbonates
Managing Bicaronates
Weather and Environmental Monitoring Equipment
Watch Dog Wireless ET Weather Station

​The fully integrated WatchDog 3250 Wireless ET Station measures temperature, humidity, rainfall, and wind speed/direction. It records and communicates the data to the cloud using its internal modem or radio. With these sensors, evapotranspiration (ET) can be computed by SpecConnect, indicating the amount of water leaving your field.


  • Integrated Solar Power system for reliable power

  • Integrated Modem/Radio for reliable communications: available with a choice of cellular modems or other radios.

  • Integrated Data Logger protects your data, holds over 18 months of data at a 15-minute recording interval and data can be transferred to a USB flash drive.

  • Easy to install - start measuring in minutes. Mounts to a 1.25 inch mast, u-bolts included.

  • Bluetooth connectivity to your Apple or Android smartphone running the free WatchDog Mobile App speeds setup and displays current conditions - data at your fingertips to better plan your day.

  • Sends data to the SpecConnect Cloud Solution - View current conditions or historical data using a broad selection of analytical reports from anywhere in the world.

  • Receive alerts via automated phone call, text message, and/or email immediately when temperature crosses your selected threshold - no waiting for the next scheduled upload.

  • Customizable with plug-in sensors to meet your needs.

  • Receive the latest changes with over-the-air updates (also available via a USB flash drive).

  • The durable enclosure provides moisture, corrosion, and UV protection for increased reliability in harsh environments.

  • Designed and manufactured in the USA to provide quality data you can rely on

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Weather Stations
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