"Zeolite enhances the performance of fertilizers by making them resistant to leaching, immobilization, and gaseous losses. They are particularly useful in reducing leaching in sandy soils. In one study, 4-8 tons of Zeolite per acre was applied. Yield increases were reported for wheat at 14%, eggplant at 19%-55%, carrots at 63%, and apples at 13%-38%." (Suthuraman, 2008)
Grow Zone Nutrient Retention...
Hydroponic & Aquaponic Solutions
Aqua Rocs is a mineral soil amendment. Zeolite amended soils show both increased water retention and nutrient utilization. On top of this, zeolite amendments can outperform other amendments by increasing the CEC levels in your soil.
Water Retention. Zeolite has numerous advantages in the area of water conservation and nutrient leaching prevention. Zeolite is capable of holding up to 60% of its weight in water.
Tests have shown Zeolite can increase water infiltration by 7%-30% on gentle sloped land and up to 50% on steep sloped land. Soil moisture can be increased by 0.4%-1.8% in drought conditions and 5%-15% in general water situations consequently, overland surface runoff is reduced, in turn protecting lands from erosion. Use of soluble N fertilizers is a major cause for groundwater contamination. Zeolite reduces nitrate leaching by inhibiting the nitrification of ammonium to nitrate.
Nutrient Runoff and Leaching
The use of water soluble-fertilizers to add-in Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus to soil can have a low efficiency rating and runoff when spread onto unamended sand-based soils. Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite) enhances the performance of fertilizers by making them resistant to leaching, immobilization, and gaseous losses. They are particularly useful in reducing leaching in sandy soils by increasing the CEC values and decreasing volatilization. Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite) itself carries small amounts of plant nutrients. Their use as inorganic amendments stems primarily from their high nutrient-exchange capacities, which allow them to absorb and release plant available nutrients and moisture without changing or breaking down the structure of the Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite). This absorption/adsorption allows Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite) to hold nutrients in its structure which acts as a slow release fertilizer to exchange nutrients with soil as needed, increasing fertilizer efficiency. This is especially important during turf establishment or heavy rainfall which can increase leaching to 10x normal (Shaddox, 2003) especially in low CEC sand based soils. Once entered into soil either through a mixture of organic material such as compost or top-dressed after aeration, Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite) will work its way down into the root zone and proceed to provide benefit year after year, while still draining after compaction because of its porous structure.
Reducing N & K Loss
fertilizing Nitrogen fertilizers such as urea and ammonium nitrate are noted for high N loss through ammonia volatilization (Prasertsak, 2001) and hydrolysis (Mengel, 1987). Ammonium volatilization is the direct loss of Nitrogen that is available for plant uptake (Sutton, 1994), meaning it is gone, into thin air. This wastes both time and money for the farmer. Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite) can be used to minimize ammonia loss because they absorb important nutrients such as ammonium (NH₄+) and potassium (K+). Hydrolysis is the occurrence of urea’s enzymes breaking down the urea molecule into NH₄+. The small channels within the Aqua Rocs, (Zeolite) have been reported to reduce nitrification by microbes and physically protect the NH₄+ from quickly breaking down (Ming, 1986).
Once the nutrients are absorbed, they become available for timely release and optimal plant uptake. This means they have now turned a volatile fertilizer into a time release fertilizer (Ahmed, 2010), increasing its value and allowing the crop more time to utilize the nutrients. Clinoptilolite Zeolite can be used to amend NPK fertilizer to reduce ammonia loss. This is possible in part to Zeolite’s high CEC and high affinity for the NH₄+ compound (Stumpe, 1984; Ming and Dixon, 1986).
A BMP study done by Cornell University in 2014 speaks on water infiltration rates that are dependent on soil makeup and texture. Sandy soils tend to have a high porosity and greater infiltration rates which affect root zone depth and watering frequencies. Because of this, amendments are often needed to increase nutrient and water holding capacity (NYUgolf.edu). Preferential flow and compaction restrictions can lead to dry spots or saturated areas that Zeolite can help amend and work the water flow toward the more desirable matrix pattern.
Most turfs are constructed using a sand substrate that promotes rapid water infiltration and high air porosity. Zeolite acts similarly in terms of air porosity while increases infiltration. In 2007, the USGA released a summary of root zone amendments showing the downsides and lack of root zone maturity to non-amended sandy soils.
Zeolites ability to retain moisture is another positive aspect for using Zeolite as a soil amendment. Zeolites can hold up to 60% of their weight in water due to their high porosity of the crystalline structure. Zeolite acts as a permanent water reservoir which provides prolonged moisture during dry periods as well as promoting rapid re-wetting and improved lateral spread in the root zone during irrigation, in turn reduceing the quantities of water needed for irrigation.
The porous structure of natural zeolite also helps to keep the soil well aerated. Unlike other soil amendments such as lime and clay, Zeolite does not break down over time, but remains in the soil to improve nutrient retention which can significantly reduce costs of water and fertilizers over time (Demir, 2004).
Zeolite has numerous advantages in the area of water conservation and nutrient leaching prevention. Zeolite is capable of holding up to 60% of its weight in water. Tests have shown Zeolite can increase water infiltration by 7%-30% on gentle sloped land and up to 50% on steep sloped land. Soil moisture can be increased by 0.4%-1.8% in drought conditions and 5%-15% in general water situations. Overland surface runoff is reduced, which helps protect from erosion. Use of soluble N fertilizers is a major cause for groundwater contamination. Zeolite reduces nitrate leaching by inhibiting the nitrification of ammonium to nitrate…
A study done by Utah State University in 1998 examines the feasibility of pre-loading Zeolite with ammonium sulphate prior to spreading. This option has several advantages, including reducing the quantity needed of (NH4)2SO4 to lower the pH balance of the soil and add nitrogen. The study had leaching values ranging from 10% – 73% for total N (NH4+ -N + NO3- -N), with more N leaching as N rate increased. In contrast, less than 5% of added N leached from Zeolite amended soil. The study concluded that amending sandy soil with ammonium loaded Clinoptilolite Zeolite can reduce N leaching while sustaining plant growth and increasing N-use efficiency compared to solely using ammonium sulphate (Perrin, 1998).
If aerating and spreading is not a feasible option, Ida-Ore recommends the addition of Zeolite to be blended into fertilizer (10% by weight) prior to spreading to reduce nutrients lost while protecting aquifers and downstream water bodies. The Zeolite will stay in the soil long after the N has been used up, ready to go for the next application, all the while improving water utilization.
Sod farms offer a unique opportunity for easy application of Zeolite prior to re-seeding directly on soil. This strategy puts the Zeolite right into the future home of the root system. Having Zeolite in the topsoil of your turf will allow for marketing opportunities into low available water areas. Turf or Sod Farms can greatly benefit from the use of Zeolite when specifically growing sod for golf courses or draught conditions where water is at a premium. Broadcasting Zeolite granules directly to soils and incorporating into the root system adds value to sod by allowing advertising of built in permanent soil amendments when marketing their products.
Having Zeolite in the root zone of turf can increase the plant available water holding capacity by up to 7 percent according the NRCS website. They conducted a study with various soil amendments to see what improvements they could find with various amendments in comparison to straight sand. Although each amendment made improvements, Natural Zeolite had the largest increase in their study (NRCS, 2009). Results are shown at the bottom left. Raising CEC levels For sod grown specifically for golf courses or for planting in sandy soils. Zeolite’s CEC level of 180-250 cmolc/kg has the ability to significantly raise the CEC level of sandy soils. Typical CEC level of common additives is shown on the chart at the bottom right.
Zeolite works as a Soil Amendment through a combination of absorption capabilities with the large porous area within each Zeolite granule, and adsorption capabilities though its cation exchange capacity (CEC) and overall negatively charged structure. This combination of abilites allows Zeolite to perform many functions when amending soil for farmland or increasing the value and efficiency of nitrogen fertilizers. Water Utilization is increased, especially on sloping lands, the internal matrix absorbs water and holds it for extended periods in the root zone. With costs of Nitrogen ranging from $.60 per pound of N from natural sources and up to $30.00 per ton for organic sources, superintendants that use Zeolite to amend soils can reduce both ammonium volatilization and hydrolysis that takes place in their soils. Waterealms recommends a soil amendment mesh size of 14-40 which equates to particle sizes of 1.18mm down to .416 mm, or roughly the size of a large beach sand. This size allows for easy spreading and complies with particle size distribution recommended by the USGA. Once Zeolite is in your soil, it will stay there year after year, providing benefits that will reduce costs and improve CEC in soils. (Zeolite also works well at absorbing and binding with oils, meaning Zeolite can also be used in the maintenance shop for small spills from mowers and tractors.)
Due to variables in soil type, water, fertilizer,
and spreading capabilites; rates for application
are typically figured on-site using test plots
before an entire area is covered.
50 lbs per 1,000 ft²
2,200 lbs per acre
Top Dressing (after Aeration):
50 – 75 lbs per 1,000 ft²
1,000 – 3,200 lbs per acre
Greens and Tees:
5% to 10% by volume
"Zeolite enhances the performance of fertilizers by making them resistant to leaching, immobilization, and gaseous losses. They are particularly useful in reducing leaching in sandy soils. In one study, 4-8 tons of Zeolite per acre was applied. Yield increases were reported for wheat at 14%, eggplant at 19%-55%, carrots at 63%, and apples at 13%-38% "(Suthuraman, 2008).