Even at extremely high concentrations, the bicarbonate did not seal off the soil

When it comes to fearmongering in turfgrass, I’m not sure there is a bigger one than bicarbonate (HCO3-). One often hears of supposed problems associated with bicarbonate. I’m still waiting to see a soil or turfgrass problem associated with this ubiquitous anion. It is ubiquitous because atmospheric carbon dioxide is dissolved in water, and carbonate minerals dissolve in soil water, and thus bicarbonate will always be present.

Brian Whitlark wrote about an interesting project by Obear and Soldat to see if bicarbonate applied at high rates could actually “seal off” a soil. Even when high rates of bicarbonate were applied, the water movement in the soil was not affected.

There are plenty of things one needs to worry about in the irrigation water quality and soil moisture and soil chemistry management of turfgrass. Bicarbonate isn’t one of them.

What one needs to know is the salinity (the amount of salt) in the irrigation water, and in the soil, and in the water one also needs to know the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR). If the SAR of the irrigation water is high, then one will also want to know the exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) of the soil.

Unless one is growing turf in a sand rootzone. In a sand rootzone, the SAR and the ESP don’t matter, so one only needs to worry about the salinity.

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