Astria in the Himalayas?
Sep 12

Astria in the Himalayas?

Not quite, but the new, sustainably formulated wetting agent from Aquatrols was front and center as a top Connecticut superintendent hosted an event to introduce the product to his peers and show off his fantastic new putting course.

Scott Ramsay is a busy guy. He is the superintendent at the gorgeous old Country Club of Farmington, president of the Connecticut GCSA chapter, and someone who educates others about turf and sustainability every day via social media. But he wasn’t too busy to host a mid-August event designed to introduce Astria to his colleagues and give them a look at his famous new Himalayas putting course.

About two dozen turf pros from around the Nutmeg State attended to learn more about Astria and have some fun on the 30,000-square-foot putting course Ramsay built between his driving range, halfway house, and the scenic Farmington River.

Scott Ramsay addresses the crowd at CC of Farmington

Before the putting contest, attendees were treated to a high-level overview of Astria Natural Soil Surfactant, the first naturally derived wetting agent for turf. Why was the time right for Aquatrols to bring a product like this to the market?

Tom Valentine, portfolio manager, told the group that customers in particularly sensitive locations or situations had started asking for an organic alternative, and Aquatrols felt they were obligated to offer it. “A growing number of municipalities, homeowner’s associations, and even country clubs have concerns about synthetic products of any kind. We wanted to help our customers stay ahead of the curve and ensure that there is an alternative surfactant for them. It’s also a great option for superintendents who want to put their environmental commitment into practice.”

But identifying a need and bringing the solution to life are two different things. “We knew we had customer demand for organic solutions, and the challenge was to identify some technologies that could rival the efficacy of our best products,” said Casey McDonald, director of supply chain and operations for Aquatrols. “When we identified the rhamnolipid technology for Astria, and we saw that efficacy, we knew we could deliver a true organic that works just as well as our top wetting agents.”

Astria Natural Soil Surfactant is packaged in 100% recyclable aluminum jugs and corrugated boxes

That challenge took several years to meet. “We started from scratch because nothing like this had been done before,” said McDonald.

McDonald said Astria is a three-part formula: cold-pressed seaweed, sugar-based surfactant, and the critical thing: a bacterially produced biosurfactant called a rhamnolipid developed by Jeneil Biotech. “It’s very similar to an APG. It’s produced by bacteria and fermentation, and it’s incredibly efficacious.”

Darryl Ramoutar, the company’s head of R&D, said the results of the testing and university trials have been outstanding: “We started out wondering, can we make Astria as good as Zipline? The answer turned out to be yes. We did experiments all over the planet and showed the performance of Astria was just as good. It’s a little more expensive now, but we think we’ll be able to make it more affordable over the next four or five years.”

The Astria development team also knew that the packaging had to meet the same scrutiny. “Delivering a naturally derived, non-petroleum product in a plastic jug felt like the wrong approach, so we developed a recyclable aluminum bottle.”

But the efficacy of Astria is what’s most important to McDonald: “We’ve been able to deliver a very high level of performance. It’s a new tool they didn’t have before.”

Learn more about the science behind Astria here:


About The Author

Pat Jones has been writing about the golf course business for 33 years. He also teaches and speaks regularly on the state of the industry and trends in the market. Jones is no stranger to working with the Aquatrols brand having served as an advisory member of the company’s board of directors from 2002-2010. Today, his firm Flagstick LLC provides content, research and strategy to companies, distributors and associations in the market.