Compaction Subtraction

If you work with turf on athletic fields, you know the problem of soil compaction: bare spots that are ugly at best and which turn into dangerous mud slicks when it rains. Getting rid of compacted soils, "compaction subtraction", or preventing compaction in the first place can be tricky. But with a good maintenance plan and the right products, it's doable. Below are the basic steps to prevent or reverse soil compaction. Some of the steps have been unchanged for years; others involve new products that were not widely available until more recently.

Soil Compaction Basics

When soil is compacted neither air nor water can penetrate the soil, which results in declining turf health and eventual turf death. To increase air circulation in the root zone and to increase water permeability into the soil, you need both mechanical tools and the correct soil amendment and fertilizer products.

Mechanical tools include core aeration and tine aeration. Aerating sports turf after every three events is ideal, but nearly impossible in practice. But for long-term field health and for more durable turf, core aeration is recommend at least once a year and tine aeration at least three times a year.

Product innovations in soil amendments and fertilizers have given turf managers new ways to prevent and reverse soil compaction. Using these products on soils prone to compaction is easy, and does not cause "down time" for sports practice or play.

What are these key products? Two of my favorites are Essential and Liquid Potassium 0-0-25, both of which are the result of Growth Products' 25 year history of technological innovations.

  • Essential Plus 1-0-1 is a liquid source of concentrated humic acid and natural biostimulants. Essential Plus' humic acid loosens compacted soils, and its kelp extracts, L-amino acids, and other organic substances stimulate both seeding and root growth.
  • While the ingredients in Essential have been part of our natural environment for ages, it was Growth Products' genius to combine the ingredients' natural power with high tech production methods to create Essential as a liquid colloidal. The manufacturing technique makes Essential easy to use as a spray or drench and shelf-stable for long periods of time. It also allows the combination of many ingredients in precise ratios that have proven efficacy. Although not brand new - Essential has been a market favorite for over 10 years - Essential still represents an unsurpassed break-through in liquid soil amendments.
  • Liquid Potassium 0-0-25 is a a great supplement to other fertilizers. Like all of Growth Products' fertilizers, Liquid Potassium is absorbed through a plant's leaves when applied as a foliar spray. This is especially important in compacted soils, where a turf's root system is stunted. Foliar feeding -- whether of nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium -- prevents harmful leaching, and allows extreme precision in application