A wetting agent is a substance that lowers the surface tension of a liquid thus increasing its penetrating and spreading qualities through previously water repellent surfaces. Wetting agents are also called surfactants.
What are they used for?
In turf management they are often used as a solution to the turf problem, Dry Patch, which is a condition of soil that has become hydrophobic (water repellent). The symptoms of Dry Patch are patches of brown, dying grass amongst a healthy sports turf surface, such as a golf or bowling green, or a lawn. The patches will be completely dry even after heavy rainfall and may smell musty.
How do they work?
Whilst a wetting agent may be used as a preventative and a curative, the perfect scenario is to prevent Dry Patch occurring in the first place. Monthly applications of a wetting agent, from spring, will mean the maximum amount of agent present in the rootzone during summer when it is most needed.
For maximum effect, this programme should be started around mid-March , with two applications a day at 7-10 day intervals. This should be repeated as necessary or at monthly intervals throughout the growing season.
A wetting agent such as Breaker Dynamic, Breaker BioLinks or Propel-R also contains re-wetting agent molecules which bind themselves to the waxes and lipids covering the soil and sand particles. The other end of the molecule is hydrophilic (water loving) and attracts water molecules to re-wet the soil. Because the extended chain is very stable, it provides a long-lasting effect.
Wetting agents with seaweed
Wetting agents containing seaweed integrate beneficial phytohormones such as auxins, betaines, cytokinins and gibberellins into turf. This promotes regeneration of damaged root systems and also provides relief from summer stress. A Rigby Taylor wetting agent containing seaweed is Breaker BioLinks.