Growth Products, Ltd: Horticulture

Seeing is Believing: Knocking Down Soil Sodium with
Growth Products’ Sodium KnockOut 5-0-0

August 2017

Just a mile from the Pacific Ocean, the El Niguel County Club’s championship golf course has 7,060 yards of beautiful rolling terrain, three lakes, sandy bunkers, and refreshing sea breezes. Like so many other golf courses across the country, it is also challenged by sodium build-up in the soil, thanks in part to the increasing necessity to use of recycled or reclaimed water for irrigation.

To combat the problems associated with high soil salinity – problems such as soil compaction, weak root growth, poor nutrient uptake, and increased plant stress – Growth Products created Sodium KnockOut 5-0-0 with 6% Calcium. An easy-to-use liquid spray or drench, Sodium KnockOut was recently put to the test at the El Niguel course.

Testing on the Back Nine

El Niguel’s golf superintendent, Brian Archbold, trialed Sodium KnockOut on the greens of the course’s back nine, using the standard application rate of 1 gallon of Sodium Knockout per acre. “I saw sodium levels drop and calcium levels rise right after I started using Sodium KnockOut,” he says, referring to the soil and tissue tests he took at the time.

“We do a lot to keep the course not only beautiful, but dry, firm, and fast,” Archbold adds. “Sodium KnockOut definitely helped, and a lot of players commented on how nice the back nine looked and played.”

Michael Dustan, an agronomist at Target Specialty Products, initially recommended the use of Sodium KnockOut at El Niguel. “I expected some reduction in the soil’s sodium and chloride levels, but not to the degree that we saw,” he said. Usually a skeptic when it comes to new products, Dustan added, “I was really surprised that the results were so good.”

They were also somewhat amazed at how rapidly changes showed up in plant tissue after an application of Sodium KnockOut. Just one day after the first spray, tissue tests of the greens’ poa/bentgrass showed reductions of sodium and chloride levels and an increase in calcium levels. “The change was significant,” Dustan confirmed, adding that other micronutrient levels rose as well.

How Does Sodium KnockOut Work?

Sodium KnockOut, a clear liquid solution, contains a natural wetting agent to help the solution penetrate into soils, and has two key workhorse ingredients: calcium nitrate and calcium acetate monohydrate. Calcium acetate, which can be found in pet foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other household items, is rarely found in turf care products. But its presence makes Sodium KnockOut a powerhouse.

Unlike gypsum that takes a long time to dissolve and become mobile, calcium acetate and calcium nitrate are fully soluble and their calcium is immediately available to react with sodium. In soils, the calcium acetate, which is a weak acid, literally knocks a sodium ion off a soil particle, and the sodium ion is replaced by a calcium ion.

As a simple analogy, think of driving your car to a mall and finding the parking lot full. There’s no place to park, so you just move on and skip the shopping trip altogether. That’s what it’s like when most forms of calcium enter a sodium-packed soil. But when Sodium KnockOut’s calcium acetate enters a saline soil, it destroys the bond that’s binding sodium to the soil, and thus creates a space for calcium to “park” on the soil.

Opening Soil, Improving Plant Health and Other KnockOut Uses

With more calcium, soils become less compacted and more open to water filtration. In many cases, consistent use of Sodium KnockOut improves water filtration by 30 to 50 percent. Chlorides and bicarbonates – also commonly found in soils irrigated with effluent water – are also released from the soil by Sodium KnockOut’s proprietary calcium solution, and improved soils lead to improved plant growth.

Grasses with more calcium, and growing in rootzones that allow better nutrient uptake, develop stronger cell walls and become more tolerant of environmental stresses. Turf returns to the lovely emerald green that golfers dream about, and problematic dry spots disappear.

Sodium KnockOut can also be used directly in irrigation water to reduce harmful bicarbonates, thus preventing the problems before they occur. To learn more about uses of Sodium KnockOut, and other ways to get the most out of saline or sodic soils, contact your local plant nutritionist at 800-648-7626. We’d be glad to talk with you about your special turf, plant or tree concerns, and help you find the perfect solution.