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I've Dealt with Water and Soils from Around the World

Never seen anything as beneficial as WaterSOLV


January 2024

Coto de Caza, CA

"I've been in the turf / golf business since I was in high school. I've travelled and worked in, I can't tell you how many states; Iowa, New York, Colorado, Texas, Florida, quite extensive overseas as well, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and China most recently. I've dealt with water, the lack of and too much of, water issues and soils, you name it, from all over the world.


But coming to California, the past four years has been very unique. Every place that I've typically worked, we've had substantial rainfall, which mitigated typical ongoing salt and sodium issues or buildup. Even though in China, we were right on the ocean on that golf course, top 100 golf course. Actually, it was rated No. 39 when I left and then they dropped off. Now they're back up to No. 95, but they're still in the top 100. Being on the ocean, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw decided that they were going to go with paspalum turf grass because of the potential for a salt problem in that golf course. However, as it turned out, there's enough rainfall and elevation change on that course where we had almost no salt and sodium problems whatsoever on that particular golf course. I didn't necessarily need to inject or manage the water to the point where we had any kind of sodium or salts buildup.


The only time that we crept up a little bit in salt content in our lake water was in the summertime when we had a little bit more of a drought or a lack of rain in the summer, which is typical in June and July and August, similar to summer slump in agriculture in arid environments. When the water level gets low or groundwater table got a little bit low, the salt water crept in and we increased just a little bit for a short period of time, but no accumulation whatsoever. I didn't really have a water issue there. When I say salt, I am referring to salty seawater.


In Houston, Texas, for example, I spent a good while in Dallas-Fort Worth area managing clubs, Houston and Austin. Austin would have been probably the highest salt problem because we actually did have treated water on one of the golf courses there, but it wasn't 100% treated. We were able to supplement that with well water and other good water sources so I didn't really build up any appreciable salt content or salts and sodium on that golf course because it also had enough elevation change and slope at surface drainage. Basically, we didn't have any areas on that golf course to retain salts. So that brings me to California four years ago. I immediately began to look into the water quality problems that had been going on. The first couple of years, we might have had maybe five inches of rain for the entire year. And we were irrigating I guess somewhere between 300 and 330 days a year with treated water.

 

Not potable water, it was effluent / reclaim water. So, I immediately began to start looking for a solution, a permanent solution to the water problem because no matter what we put out agronomically as far as mitigating the chlorine and the sodium and the salt, the osmotic pressure that's generated from too much salt, overcompensating from an irrigation standpoint, because as you know, in order to overcompensate for salty water, you'd have to irrigate 10 to 20 percent more just to compensate for that salt load. I started looking into every kind of chemical known to man to mitigate that issue because we had a lot of areas that basically was bare ground, calcareous, bicarbonate. You could see the bicarbonates on the surface, see scale, a number of unhealthy things, no matter what we did in those areas. We replaced grass in those areas then sooner or later, the same exact thing happened. I began to put some drainage in all of those areas. We put drainage in and that helped quite significantly because the water didn't sit there and evaporate to dryness. So, we put in drainage in a lot of those areas, which was expensive to do as we had a contractor come in and put drainage in a lot of those areas.


I didn't really have any greens problems because I came in with a very aggressive aeration program so that we could eliminate any possibility of having drainage issues. When I first got here, there were dead spots all over on the greens. So, we improved the cultural practices, which therefore the surface drainage was mitigated. We were able to get positive inward flow, so to speak, so we didn't accumulate salts.


It wasn't USGA sand-based greens, but maybe you could call them California Greens, which meant that we had a gravel blanket at the bottom of the green with drainage and a +/- 12 inch sand profile.



So, we were able to mitigate the problems we had on the greens through good cultural practices. We were able to mitigate any salt buildup on the greens. And believe me, there were a lot of bad spots on some of them. And if we hadn't have done what we did, we would not have been able to do it. But I slowly got ahead of all of those problems by doing what we were doing. I knew at that point that we could grow grass with 1,000 parts per million of this water, which is about what we had, somewhere between 700 to 1,200 parts per million of total dissolved solids (TDS), 1.4 to 2.4 EC. 


In the fairways, because we have very high-density type clay soil, the entire 36 holes of golf were primarily clay-based, very impervious to drainage and water. If there wasn't any surface drainage to get it to the low areas, and then from the low areas into the ponds or into the creek or whatever, we just could not grow grass in those areas. So that's where we installed more drainage. But the overall health of the entire golf course was never what I would call even average. We were able to have grass, but it wasn't what I would call robust. It wasn't ever really something that I could be proud of and say, "Wow, that's really quality turf." And I think primarily the accumulation of salts and nutrients over the past 25 years into those areas and into/onto the soil, because that salt's never going to go away and without good drainage, we just had a huge buildup in the soil. I would replace some of those bad areas with new sod, and they would not thrive. Even with some drainage, they wouldn't thrive.


So, at that point, a couple of years in, I looked at the possibility of an RO system because there had been some of those types of facilities who actually installed some for a lot of money on other golf courses in this area. I began to formulate a plan, and therefore, we did a significant amount of research with a couple of companies to get bids on the feasibility of doing an RO system. After we did the numbers, it was financially a bad decision because it was going to be, at that point, close to $7 million to implement an RO system. That became impractical 100% in our scenario because we're just not an equity club. It wasn't really something financially that anybody wanted to undertake, so that just died out.


Introduction to WaterSOLV


Taking on the course at Coto de Caza (California), I came across WaterSOLV through one of HCT’s distributors. Doing a significant amount of research and pondering, and I read everything on HCT’s website, looked at all the other superintendents presented at the website, called several superintendents, and lo and behold, I thought, "This has got to work." So, we pulled the trigger, all in. Financially, it wasn't just a cheap deal, but I have enough rapport being the director, to adjust the budget into favor and decided to save some money on fertilizer or other chemicals in order to make it happen. That has been about a year and a half ago. I've never looked back ever since.



We've now got conditions that I've been looking for over the past four years. I've actually told my Greens Committee and the Board of Governors and the Men's Golf Association that for the first time in four years, I actually think that I'm not in Southern California. I'm in another state where the rainfall is much higher and the irrigation water is a lot better because the turf is reacting so much better than I've ever seen it react that I can't even ever imagine not using this product as long as the water is going to be similar. I don't see the water ever getting better, unless there's some sort of mandate that the treated water gets treated to a level that's acceptable for plant material because it's just not going to happen.


I'm extremely happy and pleased with the results. I've been telling every single member for the past six months that it's the best decision I think I've made since I've been here in four years and it continues to work that way out. Right now, I've overseeded the golf courses every year for the past four years and my germination rate is almost 100%. I've got some of the best germination I've ever had and I've got the absolute best overseeding that I've ever had in four years at this facility and it’s been just remarkable.



The members have commented about the golf courses in the last few weeks. We had our fall, what we call our fall stampede, the last member guest tournament and I brought out one of our regional directors of agronomy, and every group that we talked to, and I mean it's like 15 to 18 groups, they all said the golf course is in the best condition they've ever seen it in since they've been a member. A lot of them have been members for 25 plus years. They just can't say how much they like the courses (3). They've never been in this kind of condition since the place was open in the '80's. Pretty elite clientele, most have seen a lot of courses, worldwide.


So monetarily our return on investment, probably, in reality, three times over, in my opinion. We've reduced the cost of our water by probably as much as the cost of the product itself. So that's one cost that we've reduced. And I can equivalently say that the amount of irrigation that we now have to use is, I would say, at least 15% less.


I have now reduced my fertility budget for 2024 probably by 20%. And instead, we’re increasing our budget on plant growth regulation because of what we have seen. This spring was too much growth for us to handle with the equipment and the players. So, my main goal for 2024 is going to be to regulate the growth more than has probably ever been done on the golf courses, to improve on the health, because what I'm seeing is a deeper-rooted turf, which is more drought tolerant with the program in place, which means less irrigation. It's more robust from a growth standpoint, so I'm having to actually, and for the first time in four years, I don't just have to, I'm required, in my opinion, to control the growth because we're releasing so much more nutrient in the soil because of this product. I'm having to really pay attention to the growth and by using more PGR’s than I've ever had to do.


The other thing that I think is very remarkable is the overseeding transition that we had this year. It is unlike anything we have experienced in the past three years up until this year because we had a lot of transition problems a year and a half ago in July and August. I didn't have, I guess, an outpouring of grief from the members this year at all like I did last year because we had a terrible transition on the golf course, we overseeded because the ryegrass just died out early in the year, like way back in May. Whereas this year, the ryegrass basically held on throughout the entire summer. I never would have thought that I could achieve that even though it was our goal a year ago to try, we were wishing and hoping that we could just keep the ryegrass throughout the summer so that we wouldn't have any transition issues. Lo and behold, and I have to say, I think that it's 98% because of this product, even though we had a significant amount of rainfall in the spring this year, which has to play a factor.

Observations

But I strongly believe that without this product, we would not have been able to sustain growth in June, July, and August. Because the root system has deepened with the use of the products, the amount of water that the plant can take up in the hot afternoons, and because we can't irrigate fairways during play in the afternoons, the only irrigation water that we can apply is at night. We did have a high bulk density soil. So once that soil gets to a certain moisture content, it is more moisture retentive, you might say. But the key to success is that even though there's moisture there before the chemical was applied, that to some point in the afternoon, there wasn't enough moisture to sustain life with the plant because of the salt load. Now, this year, we did see that we were able to be more efficient with our irrigation, and the irrigation was able to sustain the ryegrass, which is a cool season grass in basically a warm season environment. And normally, you would say that's not possible, but I feel like because of this product, we were able to keep the ryegrass throughout the summer. And I'm actually really a little bit surprised myself that we were able to do it, but now, I don't ever see a problem.



Another thing that I wanted to mention was after we overseeded this year, we saw the best germination we ever saw. In addition to that, after scalping and Verti cutting the Bermuda grass, basically like we would do in a very hot climate like the desert or Texas or Florida or even overseas, where you would scalp it down and turn it basically brown before you overseed it, you typically would see the Bermuda grass come back or rebound after you overseed it. Well, this year, the Bermuda grass, you could see it, it actually came back and filled back in after we did all that cultural practice work for overseeding. I was a little bit surprised at how robust the Bermuda grass has become. It's almost like I've let it out of jail, so to speak, and it is so much hardier than it was. It's like it's just growing like it's never grown before, and so I'm a little surprised about how that has developed with the Bermuda grass.


The impact on associated vegetation is also shocking. Shrubs, trees; we cut down some bushes over the past four years. We've got about four holes on the north golf course that are irrigated. It's just a lot of landscape plant material. And the first whole year, I probably only went in and pruned that stuff back one time in the entire year. So, it's almost like we had a PGR on all that landscape material. However, this year, we cut that stuff down lower than we've ever cut it back. And lo and behold, within a short period of time, it grew even more robust and taller and thicker, like I've never seen the landscape material grow in my entire life since I've been here. The landscape material is to the point where I can't even keep up with pruning. It's growing so fast; I'm going to be required to put down a heavy PGR on the landscape plant material as well as the turf next year.


I have a credit with the SOD company that we put in place a year ago. And we budgeted for, I don't know how many truckloads. And this year, instead of a probably $30,000 SOD budget, we only used this year to fix just a few little spots. I only used 5,000 square feet this year. I probably could have spent upwards of 70,000 square feet on the golf course a year ago. Next year, I don't really see us having to SOD anything, literally.  We’ve probably already saved $30,000 to $50,000 in SOD.


We discussed once before, my fairy ring was rampant before all this, and I have almost no fairy ring whatsoever in my fairways this year. Now, as far as the greens are concerned, I've got some of the best greens, I think, in Orange County at this point. They're rolling beautiful. There's not one square inch of bad turf on 36 holes at this point on my greens. They are literally 100%. And disease-wise, this particular year, I have seen the least amount of disease that I've seen, even though we've had probably a record rainfall event from the first half a year. Even though we've had that, I've seen less disease than I've ever seen since I've been here. The first year, we had anthracnose, we had summer patch, and of course, we had fairy ring.


We're sure grateful for the distributor, the intellectual knowledge, support and product. To the fellow comrades out there, if you've got high salt content that you're fighting, you're making a mistake not using this product.


January 2024

Coto de Caza, CA

Roger Goettsch


While water and vegetation issues are universal their causes are complex and specific. That's why we created our own soil and water testing matrix to create custom prescriptions for our customers that are aimed at solving the source of problems, and reducing the need not only for wetting agents, sulfuric acid, gypsum and manual aerification, but reducing the need for our chemistry as well. Most of our long term users are on maintenance programs using just 1-6 ppm of a custom percentage of each product injected directly into their irrigation system.


From turf to wells to agriculture, WaterSOLV™ is challenging conventional water and soil treatment practices and solving problems previously thought to be manageable at best.


HCT's purpose and privilege is providing sustainable and cost effective solutions to the chronic problems that plague soil health in the world of water and agronomy. We consistently reduce water demand 15% and increase crop yields 18% and more. When you treat water ‘well’ with WaterSOLV you increase efficiency, decrease costs, increase yield, improve pore space and add oxygen chemically. We can show you how to restore soil infiltration and soil operability just by treating your water and for substantially less than you're spending now.




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