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Department of Horticulture and Crop Science


Turf Student, Dominic Petrella on Turf Health: Why Dye?

April 1, 2014

Turf Health: Why Dye?
The benefits of using turf pigments and dyes
By Dominic Petrella

'Over the past several years, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of pigment and dye products (collectively referred to as colorants) being used on turfgrasses. Still, many turfgrass managers question the potential benefit, and whether or not colorants are worth the extra cost. In fact, there are actually many potential benefits of using these products, and as time goes on new research is becoming readily available illustrating the benefits. Ultimately, turfgrasses can be effectively maintained without spraying pigments or dyes. However, colorants can be an effective tool for a number of situations, and with looming changes in governmental regulation these products may help to fill many gaps.

From a chemistry standpoint, pigments and dyes are relatively opposite, but their potential uses have some overlap. By definition, a pigment must meet two criteria: it must be insoluble in water, and it must absorb/transmit a given wavelength of light and reflect back a different wavelength(s) (Zolinger, 2003). What we see reflected back is "color." For example, chlorophyll primarily absorbs red and blue light, while mostly reflecting green; therefore, plants appear green because of this selective reflection of green light. Pigments and dyes both have the same reflective/absorptive capabilities, but they vary greatly in their ability to stay visible on turf...'

Read the entire article here.