Now that you understand the importance of testing your irrigation water quality, it’s time to take a closer look at those tests. With all of the different results on an irrigation water quality report, figuring out what it all means and what is really most important can be a bit overwhelming.
But if you remember that the three primary problems with water used to irrigate turfgrass are (1) excessive salinity, (2) excessive sodium, and (3) potentially toxic ions, the number of test results you have to look for is relatively small.
In this Blog post, we’ll look at the first issue: excessive salinity. You can assess salinity levels in your irrigation source by looking at the conductivity of your water (ECw) on a water quality report. This is expressed in units of dS/m or mmhos/cm.
High salinity in your irrigation water doesn’t necessarily mean there are salinity issues in your soil, but it does indicate salinity levels could build up in your soil over time during dry weather if you are irrigating a lot. Table 1 below should be used as a guide to measure the likelihood of soil or turfgrass problems caused by salinity in your irrigation water.
*Salinity tolerance varies greatly among turfgrass species. If medium to high salinity levels are found in your irrigation water, this warrants monitoring of soil salinity levels (ECe). To find your ECe, you must have your soil tested by a reputable lab. Once you have the results, compare your soil salinity levels to the tolerance of the turf species you are growing (Table 2) to determine if you have a potential water uptake problem.
If your soil salinity levels fall in the acceptable range for your turf species, no further action needs to be taken. However, you should continue to monitor soil salinity levels to make sure they remain in the acceptable range.
If your soil salinity levels are above the tolerance range for your turf species, you’ll have to think about managing the high salinity levels in your irrigation water and soils.
Want to learn more? All of this information (and much more) can be found in our new Guide to Assessing and Managing Turfgrass Salinity Issues in Irrigation Water and Soils. Download it now for free.