PACE Turf - Turfgrass Information Center

Evaluation of the Geonics EM38 for soil moisture assessment

Summary: The success of a turfgrass track lies in the balance between soil conditions that are ideal for horse racing balanced against the needs of the turfgrass plant. One of the most critical components of this complex soil-turf-horse system is soil moisture. Frequently, the high soil moisture conditions that favor ideal turfgrass growth results in conditions that are too wet and slow for ideal racing and horse safety. Conversely, dry conditions that favor racing may be too dry for uniform turfgrass growth and development. Under optimum conditions, the root zone would maintain constant soil strength regardless of soil moisture conditions. However, until that perfect root zone is identified, soil moisture will be a critical component of turfgrass track maintenance, safety and success.

The results provided here suggest that soil moisture measurement using a Geonics EM38 might provide assistance in delivering more uniform soil moisture conditions at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC). Further research is need to confirm that the EM38 readings predict the track performance as evaluated by horse traffic or using mechanical hoof developed by Dr. Michael Peterson.

Full print version of report (680 KB)

Investigator: Larry J. Stowell, Ph.D., CPPP, CPAg

Cooperator: Leif Dickinson, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

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