Changing the Way the World Grows

Water Scarcity Worldwide The World’s Water Problem
Water scarcity is a growing concern in many parts of the world.
Rapidly growing populations continure to draw more and more water
from finite sources, threatening reserves and increasing political
tensions on nearly every continent.

The consequences of physical and economic water scarcity pose a
real threat to both developed and developing economies across the
globe. According to the UN, two-thirds of the world’s population will
face some degree of water stress by the year 2025 and there is little
relief in sight. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9
Water is vital to human life. If we do not change the way we think
Figure 1. Source: IMWI, Insights from the Comprehensive Assessment of Water about and use this most precious resource, we risk an uncertain
Management in Agriculture, 2006 future fraught with crises.

Where Does the Water Go? Water Use by Industry
Most of the fresh water used globally each year - about 70% - is used
in the agricultural industry to grow crops. As we move forward, food
production will need to increase dramatically to keep pace with
population growth. This means that without significant changes, the
agricultural industry will place an even larger burden on the world’s
finite water supply in coming years.

The rest of the water used each year can be categorized under
industrial and municipal use. This is water used by corporations,
local governments, and families in everyday life. While the amount
of water used in each of these sectors is comparatively less, it is still a
significant amount that will only increase as populations continue to
grow. Conservation and intelligent water use in these areas will go a
long way in helping to offset the challenges presented by population
Figure 2. Source: Shiklomanov, I., IWRA Water International Vol 25 (1), March 2000

Is There Enough?

Thinking about the current state of water scarcity and the projections for future population growth begs the question: “Will we run out?”
Is there enough land, water, and human capacity to produce food for a growing population over the next 50 years? A 2007 study, The
Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture examined that very question. The authors concluded:

It is possible to produce the food – but it is probable that today’s food production and environmental trends, if continued,
will lead to crises in many parts of the world. Only if we act to improve water use in agriculture will we meet the acute
freshwater challenges facing humankind over the coming 50 years.

We can overcome the daunting challenge before us but it will take drastic change: a change in attitudes, behaviors, and technologies.
We must adapt. Individuals, companies, and governments must begin working together to develop new technologies and implement
strategies for improving water use efficiency.

At Aquatrols, we understand the enormity of the challenges facing our world. We also believe that our products can play a critical role in
helping to overcome them. For nearly 60 years, we have dedicated ourselves to changing the way the world grows. This unprecedented
challenge only strengthens our resolve.
Changing the Way the World Grows

Our Core Focus

“We are changing the way the world grows by developing and supplying innovative products and solutions for
sustainably managing soil, water and plant interactions.”
Aquatrols introduced the world’s first commercially sold soil surfactant in 1954. For nearly 60 years, we have researched, developed, and
manufactured a number of innovative solutions to improving soil, water and plant interactions. Today we offer a complete line of soil
surfactants and specialty products for use in the agricultural, turfgrass, and horticultural industries. These products are aimed at improving
irrigation efficiency, while delivering healthier and more consistent plant growth.

The Problem - Natural Water Movement and Soil Water Repellency
Our natural tendency is to assume that water penetrates the surface uniformly
during rain and irrigation events. However, this is not always the case. A number
of factors combine to prevent water from penetrating the surface uniformly,
resulting in uneven moisture distribution and complicating the growth of
otherwise healthy plants.

The natural characteristics of water and the effects of gravity often result in a
channeled or “fingered flow” of water through the soil profile (Figure 1). When
fingered flow develops, some areas of the rootzone are left too wet while others
remain too dry, despite equal amounts of water being applied at the surface.
This uneven distribution of water is only complicated by the development of
soil water repellency. Figure 3. Non-uniform wetting patterns in a potato field (Photo:
Dr. Stan Kostka, Aquatrols)

Water repellency is a naturally occurring phenomenon that affects a wide range of soil types. It is most often caused by a natural build-up
of organic matter on soil particles but it can also be attributed to other factors, including poor quality irrigation water. Whatever the cause,
it is safe to say that nearly all soils will develop some degree of water repellency at one time or another.

Water repellent (or hydrophobic) soil particles cannot properly absorb water, which often results in water running off the surface or
leaching out through the soil before it can be absorbed by plant roots. Water repellency negatively affects plant growth because it
prevents water and vital nutrients from reaching the plants effectively.

The use of Aquatrols soil surfactants can help to reverse the effects of soil water repellency and enhance the flow of water throughout the
soil profile, resulting in a more desirable “matrix flow” (Figure 2). In this scenario, water penetrates the soil surface uniformly and is evenly
distributed throughout the entire profile, improving irrigation efficiency and delivering vital nutrients to the plant. Achieving matrix flow
during each irrigation event greatly reduces water waste and results in healthier root and plant growth overall.

Figure 4. Fingered flow results in channeling and uneven Figure 5. Matrix flow results in more uniform distribution of
distribution of water in the rootzone. water throughout the soil profile.

Increasing Crop Water Productivity
Water availability is a major limiting factor of agricultural production. In order
to feed an increasingly hungry world, innovative strategies and technologies
need to be developed and implemented to maximize crop production outputs
while increasing water use efficiency, otherwise referred to as crop water

Crop water productivity can be increased in one of two ways, either by
increasing crop production from a given volume of water or reducing the
volume of water used while maintaining acceptable levels of production. The
latter is often referred to as “deficit irrigation.”

By overcoming the inefficiencies of poor water movement and soil water
repellency, Aquatrols’ soil surfactants have shown an ability to improve
production for a wide variety of crops grown under deficit irrigation regimes.

Maximizing Crop Yields with 40% Less Water
Effect of Surfactant Use on VWC in Soils

60 Findings from Dr. S Mitra, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
(Figure 6) showed that Aquatrols’ IrrigAid Gold soil surfactant consistently
produced more favorable volumetric water contents for plots irrigated under
Volumetric Water Content (%)

40 deficit irrigation regimes.

30 no surfactant This increase in water availability contributes to more efficient crop yields.
Aquatrols’ soil surfactants have proven to maintain crop yields equivalent to
full irrigation, even when irrigation rates are reduced up to 40%.
Research conducted by Mohammad R. Chaichi at California State Polytechnic
0 100% 70% 30% 10%
University, Pomona (Figure 7) showed that IrrigAid Gold maintained crop
Irrigation regimes yields for corn at 80% and 60% irrigation regimes. This means growers
were able to produce the same amount of corn while using 40% less water.
Figure 6. Dr. S Mitra, CalPoly University, Pomona, 2003
These effects were reproducible whether irrigation was delivered via furrow,
sprinkler, or drip irrigation.

By maintaining crop yields while significantly reducing the amount of water
Effect of Soil Surfactant Use on Corn Crop Yield
needed, soil surfactants represent a simple and economically attractive
16000 a strategy to increase crop water productivity.
14000 a
12000 b b Feeding a Hungry World
yield (kg/ha)

c While soil surfactants alone cannot solve all of the problems related to water
no surfactant scarcity, their use in the agricultural industry shows promise as a critical tool in
surfactant the battle for increased crop water productivity.

Paired with intelligent cultural practices, efficient irrigation systems, and
40% 60% 80% 100% improved moisture monitoring technologies, the widespread use of soil
irrigation regimes surfactants has the potential to produce significant monetary and resource
savings for growers of all sizes. This increased productivity could have major
Figure 7. Source: Mohammad R. Chaichi, CalPoly University, Pomona,
2009 ramifications for health and food security worldwide.

Beyond the Backyard
There are an estimated 46.5 million acres of turfgrass in the United States
alone. This includes private lawns, parks, golf courses, sports fields, and other
landscape features. Over 25 million of those acres are tended to in some

Compared to commercial agriculture, the use of irrigation water for
the growth of turfgrass is a smaller yet still significant source of water
withdrawals worldwide. In many ways, the use of water for this purpose is
more heavily scrutinized.

Golf courses and sports fields are often easy targets for those looking to
point out “water waste” in their communities. Tasked with growing acres
of pristine turf for the purpose of recreation, turf managers are placed in a
difficult position when it comes to the issue of water scarcity.

Water is central to everything that happens on a grass playing surface.
Consistent irrigation is necessary for producing healthy turfgrass and ideal
playing conditions. In recent years, athletes and spectators have come to
expect these ideal conditions, even as water becomes more limiting.

Today, an increasing number of turf managers view themselves as
environmental stewards. These men and women are working to reduce Figure 8. A water drop penetration test on a soil core shows the
their impacts on the environment while still delivering the best conditions developement of water repellency. (Photo: Demie Moore, Aquatrols)
Quality Turf at Reduced Irrigation
Reduced Runoff
80 New tools and irrigation techniques have allowed turf managers to monitor and
70 control their water usage like never before. By overcoming the inconsistencies in
60 72 the soil-water-plant interaction, Aquatrols’ soil surfactants can play a central role in
Number of Tippings

50 reducing inputs, both natural and man-made.

30 A 2004 study at Ohio State University showed that the use of Aquatrols’ Dispatch
20 soil penetrant reduced the amount of water lost to runoff by nearly 20% (Figure 9).
10 This reduction in runoff means that significantly more water (and the important
0 nutrients it carries along with it) reaches the rootzone effectively during each
Control Dispatch
irrigation event.
Figure 9. Source: Ohio State University, Wooster, 2004

Dispatch has also proven to produce quality turf under a range of deficit irrigation
regimes. In a 2003 study conducted at California Polytechnic University - Pomona,
Quality Turf Under Deficit Irrigation
Dispatch produced significantly higher volumetric water contents in plots
45 irrigated at deficit levels (Figure 10). This increased water content creates more
Volumetric Water Content (%)

40 plant-available water, allowing turfgrass to continue growing despite significant
35 cutbacks in irrigation.

25 By producing quality turf with less water, Aquatrols’ soil surfactants can serve as
20 a tremendous source of input savings for the turfgrass industry. With a proven
15 soil surfactant, turf managers, lawn care operators, and homeowners can see
significant reductions in the amount of resources they pour into their turf while
70% 30% 10% enjoying the same high quality.
Irrigation Regimes
Figure 10. Source: CalPoly University - Pomona, 2003
Changing the Way the World Grows
Reduced Leaching of Inputs Cumulative nitrate (ug/mL) in leachate
The use of Aquatrols’ soil surfactants has also proven to reduce the
leaching of fertilizers and other chemical inputs. Reduced leaching of

Nitrate - N (ug/mL)
expensive products provides an obvious financial benefit for growers. 0.5
However, it also has environmental impacts as well. Lessening the 0.4
amount of products leached through the rootzone reduces the
chance that chemicals will make their way into ground water supplies.
A 2010 study conducted at Auburn University showed that Aquatrols’
0.1 Dispatch
Dispatch soil penetrant significantly reduced the amount of leachate control
nitrate (Figure 12) measured by observers. The reduction was noted 0
0 14 28 42 56
6 70
7 84 988 112
both on the individual collection dates and in the total nitrate leached Days after experiment start
over the course of the three month study.
Figure 12. Dispatch significantly reduced nitrate leaching over the course of a three
month study (Auburn University, 2010)

Addressing Soil and Water Quality
Water is not always suitable for use in irrigation. A number of factors including pH, salinity and sodium levels, and the presence of
bicarbonate all need to be considered before applying irrigation water to plants. Slight changes in weather patterns and/or water
withdrawals can have large implications for water quality from a given source. For this reason, irrigation water should be tested regularly
and monitored for changes in composition.
As the amount of freshwater available for irrigation becomes more limiting, an increasing number of growers and turf managers are
relying on effluent or “gray” water to irrigate. This lower quality water, especially needs to be monitored and tested before being used for

Healthy soil is vital to producing healthy plants. Everything that is in irrigation water will eventually make its way into the soil. Poor
quality irrigation water can create problems with the soil-water-plant interaction and place added stress on crops and other plants. In
2012, Aquatrols launched a complete line of soil and water quality products to help overcome the difficulties related to poor quality
irrigation water.

Growing in High Salinity Conditions
Over time, irrigating with water high in salinity can cause a build-up
of salt in the soil. This build-up makes it difficult for the roots to take
up water. AquaPlex amino is an osmotic regulator that allows plants to
continue growing under high salinity conditions.

The photographs to the left were taken during a replicated trial by
Dr. Erik Ervin at Virginia Tech University in 2012. Throughout the trial
period, Dr. Ervin irrigated bentgrass plants with16 dS/m salt water. One
plant was treated with AquaPlex amino at the labeled rate of 4.5 oz/M
every two weeks while the other received no treatment. A third was
irrigated with water only and served as a control.

The photos to the left were taken over the course of the trial at seven
and eight weeks after treatment, respectively. After seven weeks,
bentgrass treated with AquaPlex amino appears in much better health
than the untreated turf, which is showing signs of severe salt stress.

Eight weeks after treatment, the differences in turfgrass color and
Figure 13. Seven weeks after treatment, bentrgrass treated with AquaPlex quality are dramatic. The bentgrass treated with AquaPlex amino
amino stood up to salt stress much better than the untreated control (top). retained much more of its natural color, exhibited far less wilting, and
Eight weeks after treatment, the differences in turfgrass color and quality
are dramatic (Virginia Tech) received a higher quality rating than the untreated control.

Increase Efficiency of Soilless Media

Many growers in the horticulture industry prefer soilless media
mixes to actual soil. Soilless media (or substrates) usually contain
sphagnum peat moss or bark. Coir, rice hulls, wood fiber, compost
or other organic components are also sometimes used. In general,
these mixes are much lighter and more consistent than soil, making
them ideal for shipping and transporting.

However, many components of these mixes are also naturally
hydrophobic, resulting in uneven wetting during irrigation cycles.
Inconsistent wetting can complicate growth and place plants under
a great deal of stress.

Incorporating an Aquatrols’ media surfactant into a soilless mix is
an easy and affordable way to create a media environment that
promotes uniform water movement and wetting.

Reduce Wilting - From the Greenhouse to Your House

Wilting plants are undesirable at both the wholesale and retail
level. Harsh conditions during shipping - and later in the retail
environment - can result in major financial losses for growers and

Aquatrols’ media surfactants help to keep growing media moist for
longer periods of time, which prevents leaf wilting and allows for
fast recovery from under-watering.

A simple drench with an Aquatrols surfactant before shipping can
protect plants and keep them looking their best until they arrive
at their final destination. Forgetful plant owners can also rest easy,
knowing that one missed watering will not result in the death of
their new plant.

Increase Time Between Irrigation Events
Average Days Between Irrigation
New Guinea Impatiens (56-day crop)
Independent studies have shown that the use of Aquatrols’ media
surfactants can extend the time between irrigation for a variety 12
of plants. In a study conducted by Dr. C. L. Bethke, an Aquatrols 3-day
D ays B etw een Watering

media surfactant was shown to increase the average time between gain!
irrigation for New Guinea Impatiens by up to three days (Figure 11). 8

Stretching the time period between irrigation events can produce 6
significant water savings over the lifespan of the plant. It can also 4
ensure that plants stay looking their best when regular irrigation is
interrupted. 2

By improving water efficiency at every step of the way, Aquatrols’ 0
Untreated Untreated Treated Treated
media surfactants can produce significant savings for growers, Substrate/
Untreated Water
Treated Water
Untreated Water
Treated Water
retailers, and plant owners alike.
Figure 11. An Aquatrols’ media surfactant extended the average Bethke,
time between
irrigation events by three days. (Bethke, 1998)
Changing the Way the World Grows
Changing What We Can Freshwater Availability
For all of the things we can change, there is one thing that we cannot:
the amount of water on Earth. The world’s reserve of water is inherently
finite. All of the water that will ever exist on planet Earth is here right

Unfortunately, most of Earth’s water can be found in its vast saltwater
oceans. Only 2.5% of all water on the planet is fresh water. Of that, the
amount accessible to humans is infinitesimally small, just 0.3%.

Recognizing the world’s water problem is an important first step.
However, it needs to be just that: a first of many. As the most advanced
species on the planet, it is our duty to do everything we can to make the
most of this precious resource.

At Aquatrols, we take that responsibility very seriously. Since introducing
the world’s first commercially sold soil surfactant in 1954, we have been
working to develop and manufacture new technologies that allow us to
get the most out of every drop of water.

We recognize that soil surfactants and wetting agents are not a magic
bullet in the fight against water scarcity. However, we are confident
that they can be a significant weapon in the arsenal. In the face of this Figure 14. Source: Igor A. Shiklomanov, State Hydrological Institute (SHI,
daunting challenge, we will continue to research and develop new St. Petersburg) and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural
technologies to change the way the world grows. Organization (UNESCO, Paris) 1999. Graphic: Eric Daigh, Circle of Blue

Beyond Our Product Line
At Aquatrols, we constantly strive to deliver products that promote environmentally, socially, and economically responsible management
practices. However, our commitments to the environment and our community extend well beyond our product line. We believe that to
be a truly sustainable company, we must be respectful and responsible members of the community every step of the way.

In a constantly changing and interconnected world, we understand that our actions have consequences, both intended and unintended.
That is why we have committed ourselves to gaining a better understanding of our role in our local and global communities.

We have committed ourselves to:

• Monitoring, measuring and improving our performance continuously

• Making sure that our operations, processes and products are at once efficient and respectful to the environment

• Creating a safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly workplace

• Minimizing our use of non-renewable resources and energy

• Enriching the communities in which we operate through our corporate philanthropy, volunteerism and socially
responsible business practices

• Engaging our employees and suppliers to develop processes, materials and products that are respectful to the
environment and assist our clients by enhancing their sustainability

“We are changing the way the world grows by developing and supplying innovative
products and solutions for sustainably managing soil, water and plant interactions.”
1273 Imperial Way . Paulsboro, NJ 08066
Toll Free: 800-257-7797 .