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Baoxin Chang, Benjamin Wherley, Jacqueline Aitkenhead-Peterson, Nadezda Ojeda, Charles Fontanier and Philip Dwyer

Wetting agents have been widely used in the turf industry for ameliorating hydrophobic soil conditions and improving water use efficiency. However, limited information is available regarding potential benefits of wetting agents on fine textured soil lawns where wettable soils are commonly found, because most prior studies have been conducted in sand-based turf systems. This 2-year field study evaluated the potential for wetting agents to improve turf quality, as well as to reduce runoff losses of water and nutrients from st. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] lawns. Over two seasons, turfgrass quality, percent green cover, and soil moisture in plots were evaluated in response to wetting agent and fertilizer treatments. During precipitation events, total runoff volumes were measured, as well as total export of nutrients including NO3-N, NH4-N, total dissolved N, dissolved organic N, dissolved organic C, and PO4-P. No runoff was detected from any treatments when precipitation was less than 13 mm. St. augustinegrass turfgrass quality and soil moisture were slightly improved by wetting agent and fertilizer treatments during the study, but no significant effects of either of the treatments were found on runoff volumes or nutrient exports. Although turf was managed under deficit irrigation levels of 0.3 × reference evapotranspiration, irrigation events were not withheld due to rainfall, and thus, little to no drought stress was observed during the study.