How to Improve the Zone of Aeration


The zone of aeration is commonly referred to as the root zone. It is within this critical area where soil aeration (respiration) takes place. Aeration, water and nutrient management within this zone is absolutely critical to ensure healthy plant growth.

Soil Aeration is Essential


Why is soil aeration so important? The root zone must replenish the oxygen content of the soil air and exhaust the accumulation of carbon dioxide. The air that enters the soil from the aboveground atmosphere contains 21 percent oxygen and somewhere near 0.038 percent carbon dioxide.

Normal respiration by turf grass and soil microbes depletes oxygen content and increases carbon dioxide. If soil aeration is reduced, a toxic buildup (anoxia) of carbon dioxide could result.


72 days after Turf2Max application
Liquid Aeration Results

Growing Media for Plants


Horticulturists, turf professionals, farmers, and individuals must consider the soil as the growing media for their plants. Growers go to great efforts and expense to provide optimum root zone conditions. A hard compacted soon a poorly drained site provides a harsh environment for plant growth.

Even though most growers would not consider planting trees, ornamentals, or shrubs on such a site, growers often have no choice but to establish plants in areas where the zone of aeration has been adversely impacted. They are expected to manage the soils and produce fine quality lawns, golf courses, sports fields, and crops.

Ideal Root Zone


The ideal root zone would contain available moisture for 5 to 8 days; yet maintain high infiltration and percolation rates enough so that water would not stand on the surface for more than a few minutes following a heavy rain event. As the root zone deviates from this ideal, water management becomes more difficult.

Lawn in foreground treated with Turf2Max compared to the lawn in front of the home
Comparison of adjacent lawns

Water Management in the Root Zone


Traditional methods include installing drains to remove excess water, or core aeration which helps get water into a slowly permeable soil by increasing the surface area of the root zone and by breaking up surface crusts.

Core aeration, however, provides only temporary improvement in water management and must be repeated when surface crusts and layers re-develop.

Soil aeration is directly affected by the amount of moisture contained within the soil. Soils will reach a point of saturation, which is the level when aeration or the diffusion of air ceases. At this point plant growth is affected and can be detrimental if the soil remains saturated for a period of time.

Before
Turf2Max was introduced during the spring of 2001, the best option available to improve water management was combining surface drainage by core aeration and by installing subsurface drains.

Root Zone Photos


The first photo displays the zone of aeration taken from the football field at Catoosa High School in Oklahoma. Note the roots extending about an inch beyond the metal tip of the core sampler. Also take close notice of the aggregated soil.

The sample was taken about 2 months following a Turf2Max application. The untreated soil was severely compacted to the point that
waterlogging would occur after rainstorms.
Core sample of aggregated Zone of Aeration

The formation of aggregates within the zone of aeration.
Core sample of zone of aeration

Mechanical aeration - before Turf2Max application at Tulsa United Soccer Club
Compacted clay plug from mechanical aerator
Above is a plug pulled by a mechanical core aerator, in early December, 2004. Notice the ribbon-like striations characteristic of compacted clay. High bulk density soils smash and form ribbons when moist and dry very hard. No aggregates (clumping) are visible and this sample will not crumble, but rather breaks into large pieces with difficulty. Turf2Max was applied to the area shortly thereafter.

Sixty days after Turf2Max application at Tulsa United Soccer Club
Core sample of soil treated with Turf2Max
This is a 12" core sample taken from the same area at Tulsa United Soccer Club on April 27, 2005. The change in soil structure is noticeable. The red oxidized dirt is the part where the Turf2Max has done the most work.

The top 11 inches have been transformed into an excellent crumb structure.
Core Sample of Aggregated Soil
See how easily it crumbles? Notice the very visible aggregates (clumps) which are essential to quality soil and also evidence of good soil aeration. The crumbled red area on the right is fully aerated.

If you look closely, you can see a root protruding from the end of the intact piece on the left. This core sample is 12" long, so that the root is over 13" long!


The final two inches show the macroaggregates - partial aeration of the soil.
Aggregated Clay Soil
Although the top (red) part crumbles completely, the dark part crumbles partially. This is a prime example of how the polymers in Turf2Max keep working and working - it's not done with the dark portion yet, but in about 2 months, this dark clay will crumble like the top part did.

At this time, it is partially aerated and still clumps up nicely, but not as completely as the red part
.


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