In This Issue
Modern Moisture Magic
Thinking Ahead: Preparing for Spring
Combating Algae Blooms in Lakes and Ponds
Photo Contest
We are now accepting entries for our Hydretain Photo Contest!  Send us your best images of Hydretain results for the chance to win a Canon T3i camera bundle as well as other valuable prizes.  Click here for contest rules and details.
Ask Our Agronomist
Q: What can I do to reduce salt build-up from ice melt materials? 
ANorthern regions are known for the accumulation of ice and snow.  For safety reasons, it is common to apply ice melt materials to help reduce this accumulation.  Salts can be the source of all or a portion of the ice melt materials.  Over the course of a winter, the application of these materials can result in the buildup of a substantial amount of salts that can lead to damaged turf and landscape plants.
However, there are products to help minimize the damage from the sodium salts in these ice melt materials.  The BioPro line carries a product called Na-X (formerly Exsodis) which is designed to help flush harmful salts from the soil.  The calcium in Na-X will replace sodium (Na) on soil and organic particles.  The sodium will combine with the chlorine left over from the Na-X and flush through the soil.  Na-X is much faster reacting than gypsum, which is traditionally used to flush sodium.  The calcium in Na-X will be available within hours while gypsum takes days or weeks to release its calcium.
For more information on Na-X refer to it web page by clicking hereThe application rate for Na-X is 32 to 64 fluid ounces per 1,000 square feet (3.7 to 7.5 ml per square meter) and watered in with enough water to let it penetrate the entire root zone.  The application may be split in half and applied 3 to 7 days apart. 

 

 


Jim is a leading and respected
 voice in the arenas of
 horticulture and soil science.  With 30 years experience as both a commercial representative, consultant and scientist, Jim lends enormous credibility to all of Ecologel's products.
 
Have a question for our agronomist?  Click here to submit it.
 


Conservation Corner
#3: Keep water conservation in mind even before you plant. There are a number of ways to incorporate water-saving practices into the design and plant selection process.
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As President of Ecologel Solutions, LLC, I would like to wish everyone a happy New Year, and take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support in our quest to promote sustainability without sacrifice, while helping to "Save the World's Water One Lawn at a TimeŽ."

 

At Ecologel, our mission is to provide innovative technologies to help you maintain exceptional quality turf and ornamental horticulture, while promoting the responsible management of our natural resources.  With your help, our environmentally friendly solutions for water conservation, plant nutrition, pond and lake management, dust control and anti-fungal coatings are gaining national and international acclaim.

 

Another growth year for Ecologel products, 2013 brought expansion in both domestic and international distribution. Along with the addition of new distributors throughout the United States, Ecologel products are now available in the European Union, Asia, the Caribbean and Morocco. We have also added numerous professional applicators to the Hydretain Advantage Program, which now offers an online look-up tool to help connect Hydretain customers with the professional applicator(s) in their area.


With vastly favorable reports on the new Hydretain Granular QD product that was introduced in mid-2012, it is no surprise that it was our fastest growing product in 2013. Customers report that the convenience and flexibility of the granular product opened up many application sites where liquid treatments are either impractical or labor intensive.  In other product development, our BioPro product line was enhanced by the addition of CytoGroŽ Hormone Biostimulant to several specialized fertilizer formulas. CytoGro promotes increased root development, accentuating nutrient uptake.

 

Furthermore, Ecologel received positive reports on Hydretain's unique ability to reduce the watering requirements, while increasing crop yields, for food producing agriculture in several international trials. In 2014, Ecologel will be expanding its market focus to include food producing agriculture along with the turf and ornamental horticulture markets we currently serve. We will also be introducing a new Hydretain and Mycorrhizae combination product effective for all markets.

 

Ecologel appreciates all of the pictures and testimonials we have received on Hydretain over the past several years. In 2014, we will be hosting a Hydretain photo contest to reward the customers, applicators and distributors who send in comparison photos depicting Hydretain's benefits. Information on the prizes, monthly drawings, rules, terms and conditions are available at www.hydretain.com/contest-enews.

 

We are looking forward to even greater expansion and growth in 2014, and we wish each of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! 

 

 

With warm regards, 

 

Richard K. Irwin, President
Ecologel Solutions, LLC.
Modern Moisture Magic 

As I have grown older and my back has begun to complain more and more, I have been searching for a way to carry less water to our plant friends.  I have tried a number of different water additives and have come to appreciate one in particular, Hydretain, which is a root zone moisture manager.  Read on.


Although winter is just setting in, it is never too early to begin outdoor planning. A well thought out approach tends to be most successful leading to a summer of landscape enjoyment. Most cultural controls and management strategies should be employed either throughout the season or at particular times, and getting off to a good start is of the utmost importance.  Read on.

 

Combating Algae Blooms in Lakes and Ponds
While the spring is known for blooming flowers and trees covered in green leaves, many property managers are preparing for a blooming nuisance - algae.  Algae blooms usually begin to develop in the spring when water temperature rise and there is increased sunlight.  Their growth is then sustained through the warmer summer months.  While combating these blooms can be a headache, there are practices and products to help control the growth of algae.  Read on.

 

Upcoming Trade Shows

January 8-10 Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show
Booth #1902 
January 16-17 Green and Growin'
Booth #1117
January 23 FPMA Pest and Lawn Care Expo
Booth #313
January 23-24 STMA Conference
Booth #584  
February 5-6 Golf Course Industry Show
Booth #2871 
February 21 SFWMD Water Conservation Expo 
February 24-27  TPI Midwinter Conference 
 
"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness."  
- Thomas Jefferson
 
ModernMoistureMagicFull Articles
Modern Moisture Magic 

By Virginia Powers 

 

As I have grown older and my back has begun to complain more and more, I have been searching for a way to carry less water to our plant friends. I have tried a number of different water additives and have come to appreciate one type in particular, Hydretain, which is a root zone moisture manager. It comes as a concentrated liquid that is then added to your water.


Technically, it is a blend of humectant and hygroscopic compounds that attract and hold moisture like tiny "water magnets" within the soil. It inhibits soil moisture evaporation. It gives the benefits of both a polymer and a wetting agent. As it penetrates the planting media it acts like a magnet to water storing moisture as microscopic droplets on plant roots and on soil particle surfaces. The moisture content which is in contact with the root cells is absorbed into the plant through the normal process of osmosis.


What I like about it is that it extends the time between the waterings of plants and flowers. In addition, because it extends the moisture in the soil it helps reduce plant stress and therefore decreases replacements. I have tried it on lots of plants both indoors and out. Here are some of my favorite success stories.


At a restaurant with ten foot high planters of 100 6" pothos in medium high
 light, watering occurs every two weeks. The plants are full and gorgeous with large healthy green leaves from the pot to the ends of the three to four foot vines. Every three months they are watered with Hydretain added to the water at a 1 to 30 ratio. The need for replacements is slim, with none at all needed occurring over the past six months. All the plants are in deep vinyl saucers and are watered through the soil until there is one inch of water standing in the saucer.


On a windy exterior deck, terra cotta pots with flowering annuals are watered when planted with a Hydretain mixture and the need for irrigation is decreased to once every five days during the hot summer months.

In a sunny interior lobby, a seasonal flower program consisting mostly of mums and azaleas is successfully maintained on a once a week basis by using water mixed with Hydretain. The Hydretain is added to the water for the first watering of every seasonal change. And because the plants don't go through the wilt/drown cycle, rotations last longer. Cool, huh!?


Hydretain is biodegradable and contains no phosphates, petrochemical derivatives or other toxic fractions. It does have a bit of a brown color so be careful if mixing over light colored carpet. It has just a slight odor that is non-offensive.

I have been continuously surprised and pleased with the results that I am seeing by the use of Hydretain. It's so easy to mix, and the results show up instantly. Try it, you'll like it.

 


Virginia Powers is an experienced horticulturalist at Garden Tapestry, Inc. - a Seattle, WA based company specializing in the design, installation, and maintenance of interior and exterior gardens. In addition to her work with Garden Tapestry, Virginia, a 35 year veteran in the horticultural industry, authors content for Tropical Plant Technician, a newsletter for interiorscape professionals that spotlights plant varieties and how to care for them. For more information, visit www.tropicalplanttechnician.com.    

SpringPlanting
Thinking Ahead: Preparing Lawns and Landscapes for Spring 
By Kevin Lewis
 

Although winter is just setting in, it is never too early to begin outdoor planning. A well thought out approach tends to be most successful leading to a summer of landscape enjoyment. Most cultural controls and management strategies should be employed either throughout the season or at particular times, and getting off to a good start is of the utmost importance.

 

Typically, we think about the tasks at hand without good preparation. In saying this, I mean job planning without equipment preparation can stop you in your tracks. One of the quickest ways to fail is by not servicing your equipment and tools. A broken tool handle or a machine that fails to start can halt any task before it gets started. Additionally, the winter season is most likely the best time to have your equipment serviced. More importantly, for turf health, it is key to maintain a sharp mower blade.

 

Next, it is a good idea to address problem areas. Winter can point out areas of poor drainage, which can potentially make for areas of turf or ornamentals that struggle all year long because of poor root development and nutrient/water availability. Although these fixes can be labor intensive, they will help with waterlogged soils, providing a much healthier environment. Often times they are a much more permanent solution. If the areas are small and localized, sometimes just the addition of soil can help. In more extreme cases, lawns or beds may need to be re-graded for proper drainage or drain tile can be installed to help remove excess water.

 

It is vitally important to incorporate good cultural practices from the onset. Pruning overgrown trees and shrubs, removal of dead plant material and general clean-up of debris will be a great first step. Mulching beds in the spring is a great way of reducing weed competition and will help soil moisture. Make sure to select good organic mulching materials from a reputable source that will help feed plants. If you so choose, spring is a great time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to bedding areas as well.

 

As temperatures begin to warm, the temptation to fertilize becomes relevant. Before jumping right in, you should be armed with recent soil testing results and recommendations. The winter season is a great time to take core samples and have them analyzed. Remember that not only should we be testing the lawn but the beds as well. For best results, take soil samples from where the roots of the target area are. This means that for turf we should be taking core samples from the top 2" - 4" and for ornamentals more like 3" - 6". If done early, you should have plenty of time to formulate a plan and acquire the appropriate fertilizers and soil amendments depending on recommendations. Remember, again, to send your samples to a reputable lab or testing facility.

 

It is also important to get the turf off to a good start. If compaction or thatch is a problem and was not addressed in the fall, it would be a good time to core aerate. It is also common practice to apply pre-emergent herbicides to lawns in the spring to reduce competition from weeds. Once the lawn has broken dormancy, begin mowing with your freshly tuned-up mower with a sharp blade. Remember to not remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at any time. The lawn will likely be off to the races in the spring and may need to be mowed more frequently to maintain the 1/3 rule. Spring is also a great time to inspect, assess and repair any irrigation issues before the summer and drought stress.

 

Although these guidelines are broad, you can dial in to yours or your customers' property by soil testing and consulting local or trusted experts for advice and programs which will suit each area best. Although a proper fertility and plant protectant program is high on the priority list, water management may prove to be far more useful. Periods of low moisture or watering restrictions may trash even the best laid plan. Before these scenarios arise, don't forget to Think Hydretain to help maintain usable moisture for all plants, and improve overall health while reducing irrigation requirements and water bills.  

 

 

Kevin Lewis is the Northeast Technical Sales Manager for Ecologel Solutions, LLC.  Kevin earned an Applied Sciences degree from Ohio State in Turfgrass Management.  As a former Class A Golf Course Superintendent (GCSAA), he oversaw all aspects of course management.  Kevin also partnered in launching a lawn maintenance company and was licensed as a commercial applicator in the State of Ohio for Turf, General Weed control, and Aquatics.

PondManagement
Combating Algae Blooms in Lakes and Ponds

By Jim Spindler

 

While the spring is known for blooming flowers and trees covered in green leaves, many property managers are preparing for a blooming nuisance -- algae.  Algae blooms usually begin to develop in the spring when water temperature rise and there is increased sunlight.  Their growth is then sustained through the warmer summer months.  While combating these blooms can be a headache, there are practices and products to help control the growth of algae.

 

Initially, there are a number of precautions property managers can take in order to decrease the amount of algae bloom in lakes and ponds.  Firstly, avoid blowing leaves, grass clippings and other organic matter into the water as this can become an additional food source for algae.  Also, when applying fertilizer, follow the best management practices in your area.  Maintaining a no-fertilization buffer along the edges of ponds, and eliminating run off into streams can greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus build-up in ponds and lakes.  Finally, installing an aerator can provide a source of dissolved oxygen to your pond. Doing so helps to reduce ideal conditions that cause algae bloom.

 

Additionally, there are products that can help reduce the amount of algae blooms in ponds and lakes.  Algaecides containing endothall, copper, or hydrogen peroxide can be used to temporarily reduce blooms, but can also have undesirable side effects.  The most common is fish mortality, since the amount of oxygen in the water is greatly reduced.  Another more environmentally friendly treatment option is applying a biological pond and lake clarifier, such as Aqua-T, that contains beneficial bacteria.

 

Aqua-T uses a variety of bacteria that have been selected from natural setting based on their ability to aggressively break down organic substances dissolved in the water and that occur in the bottom of ponds, such as sludge.  The bacteria are also selected on their ability to consume dissolved nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon.  A side benefit of this clarification activity is that the bacteria consume the nutrients that algae and some floating plants require.  Not only do the bacteria digest the nutrients, suspended organics, and bottom sludge that contribute to cloudy water, but also remove nutrients that algae and floating plants require for survival.  Therefore, the algae are not able to become established or flourish in ponds with good bacterial activity.

 

The optimum temperature for the activity of beneficial bacteria, such as that found in Aqua-T, is 86°F (30°C), but will be active as low as 39°F (4°C) and as high as 145°F (63°C).  It should be used during the portion of the year when the activities of pond organisms are greatest and when the accumulations of organic materials are most likely.  For example, a frozen pond has very little activity in it or opportunity for the accumulation of organic materials and nutrients that will cloud water.  However, there may be occasions when a pond owner or manager may want to start earlier in the season.  These times may be occasions when the pond may have received a large dose nutrients or organic materials.  Events such as spring floods that wash nutrient rich soil or organic debris into ponds and lakes may be occasions to begin treatments earlier in the year.

 
For those considering Aqua-T, the specialists at BioPro Technologies and Ecologel Solutions recommend, in most situations, that an Aqua-T program is started in the spring when water temperatures reach 45
°F (7°C) to 50°F (10°C).  The program begins with the "Initial Dose" of 6 of the ˝ pound bags per acre foot of water (326,000 gallons) (1,200 cubic meters).  After the initial dose we recommend a maintenance dose every 2 weeks of 1 of the ˝ pound bags per acre foot of water (326,000 gallons) (1,200 cubic meters).  This will allow the bacteria to become well established and reduce the organic materials and nutrient levels at a level that will not promote the growth of algae or floating plants.

 

  

Jim Spindler is a Certified Professional Agronomist and a Certified Professional Soil Scientist.  Jim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy from Delaware Valley College, as well as a Master of Science degree in Forestry, with a specialization in Soil Science from Michigan Technological University.  With more than 30 years of experience both domestic and international, he has practical experience in the golf course, sports turf, and lawn care industries, in addition to extensive experience with a comprehensive range of agricultural products.  Jim also extends his services and knowledge voluntarily as the Agronomist and Research Director of the O.J. Noer Turf Research Foundation.