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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: RANGELAND RESTORATION AND MANAGEMENT Title: Soil surfactant products for improving hydrologic function in post-fire water repellent soil

Authors
item Madsen, Matthew
item Coronel, Eric -
item Hopkins, Bryan -

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 10, 2013
Publication Date: November 16, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58184
Citation: Madsen, M.D., Coronel, E.G., Hopkins, B.G. 2013. Soil surfactant products for improving hydrologic function in post-fire water repellent soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 77:1825-1830.

Interpretive Summary: There are a wide range of soil surfactant chemistries on the market today that are primarily designed for the treatment of water repellent soils in cropping and turfgrass systems. We wanted to evaluate the efficacy of 13 of these different commercially available surfactant products for treating rangeland soils impacted by post-fire water repellency. All products evaluated in the study improved water penetration and generally increased soil water retention; however, the degree of performance varied widely between products. Irrigaid Gold, Advantage, Penn Wetting, Pervaide and Tournament Ready were typically the top performing products in this study. Hydro Wet, Intake, Attain FC, Wet-Sol Gro, and EZ Wet, in general showed an intermediate response, while Fulmax, PenaTron, and Penex were dramatically less effective in comparison to the other products. We assume that the products that had the greatest improvements in water penetration and retention will also be the most effective in mitigating soil water repellency after a wildfire.

Technical Abstract: There are a wide range of soil surfactant chemistries on the market today that are primarily designed for the treatment of water repellent soils in cropping and turfgrass systems. These chemicals may also have potential in treating the deleterious effects associated with post-fire water repellent soils. The objective of this study was to compare thirteen commercially available soil surfactant products with regard to their ability to influence water penetration and soil water-holding capacity in post-fire water repellent soil. Impact of the surfactant on soil water penetration and soil water-holding capacity was determined through water drop penetration time tests and laboratory column infiltration experiments, respectively. All products evaluated in the study improved water penetration and generally increased soil water retention; however, the degree of performance varied widely between products. Irrigaid Gold, Advantage, Penn Wetting, Pervaide and Tournament Ready were typically the top performing products in this study. Hydro Wet, Intake, Attain FC, Wet-Sol Gro, and EZ Wet, in general showed an intermediate response, while Fulmax, PenaTron, and Penex were dramatically less effective in comparison to the other products. It is assumed that the products that had the greatest improvements in water penetration and retention will also be the most effective in restoring the ecohydrologic function of post-fire water repellent soils. However, the full utility of the products is not demonstrated in this study, particularly with respect to plant growth. Additional laboratory and field studies are merited for understanding how these different surfactant chemistries influence revegetation success.

Last Modified: 10/31/2014
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