Turf root mass increases 300% in four months

CASE STUDY Boca Grove Plantation, Florida


The Boca Grove Plantation in Boca Raton, Florida uses a combination of well water and surface runoff to irrigate the grounds and golf course. The irrigation water is “hard” (high mineral content) and contains bicarbonates at levels of 200-400 ppm. The pH of the water ranges from 7.5-7.9. Calcium and Magnesium are bound by the bicarbonate and thus not plant available. Nutrient availability in the soil is poor given the above conditions.

Boca Grove had used sulfur burner technology to reduce the high pH of the irrigation water and bicarbonate levels. The unit was aging and in need of replacement. They inquired about the water conditioner technology as an alternative.


Irrigation water is pumped from a chain of lakes that are located on the property. An 200mm Care-Free Water Conditioner was connected to the discharge of the irrigation pump station. The unit was fitted with a power regulator. Flow rate through the unit is approximately 6,250 L/min.

Below are the various values for water, soil and plant tissue testing at the site.

Water: PH7.57.9
Soil: PH7.37.1
Soil: HCO3-148 ppm84 ppm43% Reduction
Soil: Na70 ppm45 ppm35% Reduction
Soil: Ca153 ppm56 ppm64% Reduction
Tissue: Ca0.20%0.64%320% Increase
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To summarise, in the four month period:

  • The pH of the water source rose slightly however the soil pH dropped.
  • Bicarbonate levels in the soil reduced by over 40%.
  • Sodium levels in the soil reduced 35%.
  • Calcium levels in the soil solution reduced 64%, while levels in the plant tissue tripled

Visual results of the turf confirmed the improvement in the soil.

  • Turf root mass increased 300% in four months.

It was a dry spring and water restrictions were imposed. In fact, county water authorities conducted an unannounced visit to the golf course to find out how Boca Grove was able to stay so “green” compared to neighbouring courses.

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In addition to managing the high bicarbonate water, the Care-Free Water Conditioner proved to be a cost savings over the traditional treatment. A cost analysis of the two technologies is shown below.

(Traditional Treatment)
Fixed Cost - Unit$22,000$40,000 incl. install
Ongoing Cost$16,000 / yrNil
Lifespan5 yearsLifetime

Given the data above, the Care-Free Water Conditioner has provided an alternative means to control high pH, high bicarbonate water at a lower cost than traditional treatment.

Once a Care-Free is installed, you’ll find that the better ‘wetting action’ of conditioned water improves soil texture. Not only does soil become more permeable but it is able to retain its moisture content for longer periods.

By improving permeability, unwanted salts which previously accumulated around the root zone and in the soil, are flushed well below the roots and do not reform. With a reduction in Sodium and Chloride levels in the soil, stressing to the turf is relieved allowing a root mass increase of about three times.