Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

FEB 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Page 23 of 55

S Soil – that amazing combination of inorganic bits and pieces, decomposing organic materials and living matter that provides for plants' nutritional needs and physically supports their growth - is in a constant state of flux due to the cli - mate, its topographical environment and the impact of humans, who can be soil's greatest benefactor. Besides refraining from practices that harm soil, we can also do much to enrich it by providing it with a variety of organic and inorganic resources that perform very valuable functions to benefit soil and the plants it sustains. Managing Soil Moisture Reducing the amount of water used in landscaping is a very high priority presently, and most solutions center on irrigation equipment. But there are consumable products avail - able to not only better control water movement and retention in soils but help conserve water as well. One class of substances is known as surfacants or wetting agents. According to James Spindler, CPAg, CCA, CPSS, director of agronomy at Ecologel Solutions, these reduce the surface tension of water so that the molecules can better disperse across and in the surface of a solid. "A wetting agent is a mate - rial that allows water to more easily penetrate into soil and/or flow through, or infiltrate, the soil," he states. "These materials are valuable when soils have become hydrophobic and will not wet easily." They also provide better drainage, as - sist various pesticides and improve seed germination Another type of water management technology is super absorbent polymers, which can capture and hold greater amounts of liquid than their size, or mass, would suggest. "These materials are utilized to absorb large amounts of rainfall or irrigation to be used by the plant at a later date," says Spindler. For example, JRM Chemical manufac - turers a polymer product called Soil Moist. The company states that it can reduce "plant waterings by 50%, reduce trans - plant shock and soil compaction and is effective in the soil for 3-5 years." It is de - signed to store over 200 times its weight in tap water and then release a "steady supply of water as your plants need it. Best practices from the manufacturer in - clude installing it into the soil at the root level of the plant - not topdressing with it. According to Spindler, there is a soil 24 LC DBM Left & Below In areas where the soil has been degraded by site preparation, tillage and other activities where topsoil is removed, mycorrhizal fungi, which attach to feeding roots of some seed plants (inset) and expand their root mass so nutrient and water uptake are improved, can be reduced or eliminated. Adding them back to the soil returns their beneficial functions that also include preventing disease by attacking pathogens entering the root zone. Left Hygroscopic humectants manage and conserve water by condensing soil moisture vapor or soil humidity back into liquid droplets of water (the hygroscopic component), and holding the droplets tightly enough so they stay near the root (the humectant component), but not too tightly so that the root can not absorb them. EARTH Additives by Mike Dahl, LC/DBM Giving Soil What it Needs to Give Back Much PHOTO: JRM CHEMICAL PHOTO: ECOLOGEL SOLUTIONS

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