SustainAbility Newsletter

Sodium Affected Soils

Soil Sample

Thoughnot a plant food nutrient, sodium plays a critical role in soil and turfgrass health.  The primary problem posed by high sodium is not a toxicity hazard, but a rapid decline in soil structure that can begin when sodium base saturation exceeds the critical 5% level.  High sodium reduces soil permeability, resulting in drainage and compaction problems that cause a decline in turf vigor. For the turfgrass manager it’s critical to understand how sodium accumulates in the soil and what steps can be taken to amend high sodium levels.

The primary cause of soil sodium accumulation is poor quality irrigation water, but its not just water-borne sodium that creates the problem. A number of other factors influence the sodium permeability hazard of irrigation water, such as bicarbonate and calcium levels.

If irrigation water poses a sodium permeability hazard a number of treatment strategies can be employed, depending on water quality and soil type. Irrigation water treatment has become a hot topic in recent years, in part due to the increased reliance on poor quality municipal effluent water. But treatments are often over-prescribed or sold to treat sodium related problems that simply don’t exist. Before making amendment decisions ensure that your soil and irrigation water quality analysis is conducted by an accredited, reputable laboratory. Moreover, seek the advice of a Professional Agrologist before deciding on your amendment or treatment options.

Laboratory Soil Analysis

STEP 1: Use soil profiler or other tool to obtain soil samples to the maximum depth possible. The depth indicates how loose the soil is. The deeper the soil sample the better it is for the turf or other plant materials.
STEP 2: Twist probe and pull out of ground. Measure from surface line to bottom of probe, the bottom of area "C" on the photo. If using a trowel or shovel, attempt to create a flat surface that is perpendiculat, removing the loose dirt out of the way so that it can be seen more from the side and to enable an accurate measure of the depth. Write down "Average Coring Depth" so that it can be transferred to the form.
STEP 3: Push plug up from bottom of probe. Carefully fleck away soil until you expose beginning of roots. Sometimes, the roots are visible at the bottom of the probe. Measure from surface to end of root system. If using a trowel or shovel, measure the depth of the roots, similar to using the probe, by scratching some dirt away to determine the deepest part of the roots, from top of soil to bottom of "B" on photo. Fill in "Main Root Development" with this figure.
STEP 4: Measure the depth of thatch. That's the peat-like or corky material from the grass line to beginning of soil surface, area "A" on the photo. Fill in "Thatch Layer Depth" with this figure.

STEP 5: Remove soil from probe (or trowel), discard thatch and grass, put soil in sample bag. You will need to repeat Steps 1,2, & 5 till there is 1/2 to 1 cup of soil in the bag (Zip Lock).

STEP 6: Fill in the "Regular Cutting Height" at which you cut your lawn.

STEP 7: Fill in "Type of Grasses" in your lawn if known (not a critical).

STEP 8: Measure the turf area for which the sample was collecte

STEP 9: Check off watering method you use.

STEP 10: Check off correct lawn life stage. "Developing" means lawn was established within the last two years. "Renovation" means lawn was established but needed extensive seeding last season which was done. "New-seeded" - self explanatory. "New Sod" - self explanatory. If any other condition exists, note in blank area.

STEP 11: Date sample taken and last time lawn or garden was limed.

STEP 12: Transfer the Data onto this Form 

STEP 13: Send $49 along with soil sample in Zip Lock bag to: Prescription Soil Analysis, LLC, PO Box 708, Dillsburg, PA, 17019


References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 


Ford Motors

Girl Scouts of America

Austin Ranch

Turf Feeding Systems

The University of Michigan

The Dodson Group      

To learn about sponsorship opportunities please call us at: 727-733-0762
This Issue of the SustainAbility Newsletter sponsored in part by:

The Dodson Group

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Incentive Offered to Encourage Membership in Sustainable Golf Program

Seeking Pilot Members and participants in the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program the organization is offering an incentive to encourage golf courses who wish to become involved in the sustainability movement evolving within the golf course industry. This incentive opportunity was made available in part from contributions and donations given by supporters of the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program.

The first golf facilities that choose to participate will be rewarded. Audubon Lifestyles will waive the $500 registration fee required to join the program to the first golf facility in each of the fifty states within the United States, each Province in Canada, and each Country in the rest of the world who register in the program. This Pilot Member incentive provides a potential to grant over three hundred complimentary memberships, and will stay in effect until 2011.

Those facilities that join as pilot members will not only become the first courses recognized as part of the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program, but also help review and ensure that the program materials “make sense in the real world”, and that what is being covered in the self assessment/audit process of the program is actually covering all pertinent sustainability topics. A variety of golf course types from public, private and resort to large and small are being encouraged to get involved. The Sustainable Golf Facility Program is available to facilities of any budget or size. Sustainability doesn’t have anything to do with the size of the budget, but it has everything to do with the attitude and focus of how a golf facility is being managed.

We are proud to announce the first three members to join the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program: 

Old Collier ClubThe Old Collier Club—Naples, Florida
The course landscape was designed with both players and natural wildlife in mind. Turf areas are limited to 77 acres. More than 50 acres of mangrove and wetland habitat have been set aside as a wildlife preserve, and another 109 acres of continuous native habitat corridors are also preserved.

The Rim Golf ClubThe Rim Golf Club—Payson Arizona
Rated the No. 1 residential golf course in the Southwest three years in a row in Golfweek magazine’s list of “America’s Best Residential Golf Courses,” and No. 1 in Arizona, The Rim Golf Club’s par-71 championship course is the highlight of the community and the collaboration of the legendary design team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish.

The Reserve at Lake KeoweeThe Reserve at Lake Keowee— Sunset, South Carolina
Jack Nicklaus has placed his signature on The Reserve at Lake Keowee with a 7,112-yard masterpiece designed for the entire family.   From sunrise to sunset, from the scenic shores of Lake Keowee to the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Reserve at Lake Keowee bursts with natural beauty and an endless array of outdoor activities.



References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles

The International Sustainability Council  

The Reserve at Lake Keowee

The Old Collier Club

The Rim Golf Club




Energy Star 

The Village of Blume 

Taylor Properties Group  


National Geographic 

American Society of Golf Course Architects

The United States Golf Association (USGA)


$25 Annually $100 Annually $250 Reg / $100 Annually


Sponsors are a critically important part to the success of ISC-Audubon. As a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating sustainability, we offer all of our programs to our members free of charge, and are publicly available for download on our website.

ISC-Audubon is proud to extend the opportunity to select businesses and organizations to become sponsors of our sustainability education and advocacy programs. As a sponsor, your business or organization can realize significant value.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity. 


A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

Read more