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Fundamentals of Turfgrass and Agricultural Chemistry / Edition 1

Fundamentals of Turfgrass and Agricultural Chemistry / Edition 1


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So you're ready to spread some fertilizer or perhaps spray some pesticide. Are you using the right chemical for the job? Are you using it in the right way? Are you breaking any environmental regulations? The knowledge level required of turf and agricultural managers when applying chemicals to a variety of sites today is constantly rising. But this book can help you meet the challenge. Written in non-technical language for the practicing manager, it conveys a basic understanding and working knowledge of fundamental chemical properties that relate to daily turfgrass and agricultural management. It gives you the practical knowledge you need to successfully and safely tackle the problem at hand. Complete, up-to-date information provided by two experts in the field cover the subject from A to Z, including new products, regulations, and management techniques.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780471444114
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/09/2003
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 10.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

L. B. McCARTY, PhD, is Professor of Horticulture specializing in turfgrass science and management at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. During his career, he oversaw the design and construction of "The Envirotron," the state-of-the-art research and education turfgrass facility at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he served as a turfgrass specialist. He has published more than 300 articles dealing with all phases of turfgrass management and has given more than 500 presentations on the subject.
IAN R. RODRIGUEZ is a PhD candidate in the Department of Horticulture at Clemson University.
B. TODD BUNNELL is a graduate research assistant pursuing a PhD in plant physiology (with turfgrass emphasis) at Clemson University. He has published numerous articles and presented research findings at conferences worldwide.
F. CLINT WALTZ is Assistant Professor of Crop and Soil Sciences at the University of Georgia in Griffin. He has worked in golf course maintenance for more than two years at the Augusta National Golf Club.

Read an Excerpt

Fundamentals of Turfgrass and Agricultural Chemistry

By L. B. McCarthy Ian R. Rodriguez B. Todd Bunnell F. Clint Waltz

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-44411-1

Chapter One



Chemistry is the branch of science which studies matter-its composition, properties, and changes. Scientists attempt to discover and describe matter, then determine why these kinds of matter have particular characteristics and why changes in this matter occur. The discoveries of chemistry have greatly helped expand the life span of mankind, increase crop yields, and produce thousands of products that facilitate a higher standard of living. Most of today's medicines, plastics, synthetic fibers, alloys, pesticides, fertilizers, and many more products that enhance our lives are from the many discoveries of chemistry. Chemistry provides the foundation for the study and understanding of the biological sciences because without chemical reactions, life would not exist. Neither food nor clothing would be available. The energy needed for the human body to move and operate as well as all other biological processes would not exist without chemical reactions. Likewise, all processes involved in plant culture such as soil reactions, plant growth and development, pest management, and water use and quality, involve chemical reactions.

In developing a useful knowledge of chemistry, it is important to have a solid foundation and understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry. Thisfoundation depends on a good understanding of the nature of elements and compounds and their relationships. The first three chapters of this book cover many of the concepts necessary to build this foundation required for turfgrass and agricultural managers and from which subsequent chapters are based and expanded upon.

Chemistry may be subdivided into several branches (Chart 1-1). These branches are not separate but overlap considerably.

Analytical chemistry deals with the separation, identification, and composition of all kinds of matter. Within analytical chemistry, qualitative analysis deals with the separation and identification of the individual components of materials while quantitative analysis determines how much of each component is present.

Biochemistry includes the study of materials and processes in living organisms.

Inorganic chemistry covers the chemistry of elements and their compounds except those containing carbon.

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon-containing materials.

Physical chemistry investigates the laws and theories of all branches of chemistry, especially the structure and transformation of matter and interrelationships of energy and matter.

Nuclear chemistry deals with the nuclei of atoms and their changes.

Turfgrass and agricultural science and management deals with all branches of chemistry with the possible exception of nuclear chemistry. This chapter introduces basic chemical concepts and topics necessary to use chemistry in agronomic practices covered in subsequent chapters.


The smallest particle of an element that has the properties of that element is an atom (from the Greek atomos, meaning "indivisible"). Molecules are groups of two or more atoms held together by the forces of chemical bonds (Figure 1-1). Molecules are electrically neutral (no net charge). Ions are atoms or groups of atoms that carry positive or negative electrical charges.

An atom consists of two parts, the nucleus and the electron cloud. Every atom has a core, or nucleus (plural: nuclei) which contains one or more positively charged particles called protons1. The number of protons distinguishes the atoms of different elements from one another. For example, an atom of hydrogen (H), the simplest element, has one proton in its nucleus; an atom of carbon (C) has six protons. For any element, the number of protons in the nucleus of its atoms is referred to its atomic number. The atomic number of hydrogen is one and the atomic number of carbon is six (Table 1-1).

Atomic nuclei also contain uncharged particles of about the same weight as protons called neutrons. Neutrons affect only the weight of the atom, not its chemical properties. The weight of an atom is essentially made up of the weight of the protons and neutrons in its nucleus. The atomic weight of an element is defined as the weight of an atom relative to the weight of a carbon atom having six protons and six neutrons and a designated atomic weight of 12. Because these atomic weights are relative values, they are expressed without units of weight. Similarly, the atomic mass of an element is the mass of an atom relative to that of a carbon atom with a designated atomic mass of 12. The atomic structures of some elements are shown in Table 1-1.

atomic mass (proton + neutrons) - atomic number (or protons) = number of neutrons in the nucleus

The remainder of an atom lies around the central nucleus and is called the electron cloud (Figure 1-2). The electron cloud gives an atom its volume and keeps other atoms out since two objects cannot occupy the same space simultaneously (often referred to as the law of impenetrability). Within the electron cloud, electrons revolve about the nucleus similar to the planets revolving about the sun, in orbits of various diameters dependent upon the available energy.

An electron cloud is composed of negatively charged particles, called electrons (Figure 1-2). Electrons are attracted by the positive charge of the protons. The number and arrangement of electrons determine whether an atom will react with itself or other atoms, and the manner in which the reaction will occur. Due to their opposite charges, protons attract electrons, and all atoms have an equal number of protons and electrons; thus all atoms are electrically neutral.

atomic number = number of protons = number of electrons

The Atomic Theory

An atom is the smallest unit of an element that can exist either alone or in combination with other atoms like it or different from it. In 1803, John Dalton attempted to explain why elements always combine in definite proportions and always conform to the Law of Conservation of Matter. Basically, for each element there is a chemical or reactive unit, called an atom, which has its own characteristic weight. In chemical reactions these unit particles are merely rearranged, they are not destroyed. This is referred to as the Law of Conservation of Matter.

Summary of Dalton's Atomic Theory

1. All substances are composed of small, dense, indestructible particles called atoms.

2. Atoms of a given substance are identical in mass, size, and shape.

3. An atom is the smallest part of an element that enters into a chemical change.

4. Molecules of a compound are produced by the combination of the atoms of two or more different elements.


Matter is anything that occupies space. A substance is a distinct kind of matter consisting of the same properties throughout the sample. All matter is made up of elements (Chart 1-2). Elements are substances that cannot be broken down into other simpler substances by ordinary chemical means. There are 92 naturally occurring elements on Earth, each differing from the others by the number of protons in the nuclei of its atoms. These are referred to as natural elements. Examples of natural elements include iron (Fe), oxygen (O), mercury (Hg), copper (Cu), aluminum (Al), hydrogen (H), sodium (Na), gold (Au), silver (Ag), sulfur (S), and carbon (C). Hydrogen (H) is the lightest element with only one proton in its nucleus while uranium (U) is one of the heaviest at 92. Currently, 113 total elements exist, including those that are man-made (artificial elements) with new ones periodically being synthesized.

Elements are composed of a single kind of atom; if it is composed of different atoms in a fixed ratio, it is referred to as a compound. Water ([H.sub.2]O) is a compound composed of different atoms. It can be separated into simpler substances, thus it is not an element. It separates into two different gases, oxygen ([O.sub.2]) and hydrogen ([H.sub.2]), which are elements.

Table salt (NaCl) is also a compound composed of the elements sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Table sugar or sucrose ([C.sub.12][H.sub.22][O.sub.11]), is a compound formed from a combination of the three elements-carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O)-in a distinct ratio. Important characteristics of a compound are:

(a) Compounds are made from simpler substances called elements, and can be decomposed into elements by ordinary chemical means.

(b) The elements of which a compound is composed (its components) are combined in a definite proportion by mass. This proportion is the same in all samples of the compound.

(c) The chemical and physical properties of a compound are different from those of its components.

Of the more than 100 known elements, eight make up more than 98% of the Earth's crust [oxygen (O), silicon (Si), aluminum (Al), iron (Fe), calcium (Ca), sodium (Na), potassium (K), and magnesium (Mg)].

A mixture consists of two or more substances (elements or compounds) physically mixed together but not chemically combined like in a compound. A solution (also called a mixture) with no visible differing parts (e.g., a single phase) is referred to as homogenous. Sugar dissolved in water produces a single phase homogeneous mixture (or solution) of sugar water. A heterogenous mixture has visibly different parts (or layers or phases). Most salad dressings, for example, have visible different parts no matter how thoroughly they are mixed and can be separated by ordinary physical means (Chart 1-2).

Metals and Nonmetals. Most elements fall into one of two groups-metals or nonmetals (refer to the Periodic Table inside the front cover of this book). Metals conduct heat and electricity readily and reflect light (have luster) (Table 1-2). Most metals are quite ductile (capable of being drawn into wires) and malleable (capable of being hammered into sheets). These properties exist because electrons in metals are continually exchanged between atoms and are not restricted to fixed positions. This property is referred to as the "sea of electron" effect. Metals also have fewer electrons in their outer shells than nonmetals. Examples include copper (Cu), platinum (Pt), silver (Ag), aluminum (Al), mercury (Hg), magnesium (Mg), tin (Sn), zinc (Zn), and gold (Au).

Nonmetallic elements typically have opposite characteristics of metals. Nonmetals are generally lighter in weight than metals; they are brittle (not malleable); not ductile; vary in color; and are poor conductors of electricity and heat (Table 1-2). These properties are due to nearly complete or filled outer shells with electrons that are held relatively rigidly, and thus tend to be somewhat less reactive. Examples include sulfur (S), chlorine (Cl), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and oxygen (O).

Except for the noble gases, no element in the free state possesses the stable, complete outermost shell. All elements with incomplete outer shells tend to combine with other elements and thereby undergo significant bonding under ordinary conditions. Therefore, the completeness of the outermost shell is a factor in determining bonding capacity of an element; that is, the ability of its atoms to combine with other atoms and will be discussed in further details later in this chapter.

Naming Elements. Elements are often named after the discoverer. Different symbols are used to designate each different element. The symbol of an element is either the first letter of the name or the first letter followed by some significant other letter. The first letter of the symbol is always capitalized and the second letter (if used) is always lower case. For examples, the symbol of carbon is C; the symbol of calcium is Ca; the symbol of chromium is Cr; and, the symbol of cobalt is Co. The symbols of some elements are derived from languages other than English. For example, the symbol for gold, Au, is derived from the Latin word, aurum; sodium (Na) is from natrium; while iron has the symbol Fe, from ferrum.

Grouping Elements-The Periodic Table. One of the great milestones in chemistry's evolution was the arrangement of elements into groups with similar properties. The Periodic Table or chart shown on the inside front cover of this text illustrates this grouping of elements. In this table the metallic elements are located on the left side of the heavy line that runs diagonally across the table while the nonmetals are located to the right.

The periodic table is read like a newspaper, from left to right and down the page. Each horizontal row of the periodic table represents a period or series. An electron is added to the valence (outer) shell of the atoms of each element as one moves from left to right within each of the seven periods.

The vertical columns of elements in the periodic table are called groups or families. In older periodic tables, a Roman numeral and a capital letter were used to identify each group. Today, numbers from 1 to 18 are used to identify these. In general, elements in the same group have similar properties and have the same number and similar arrangement of outer-shell (valence) electrons. Each element is located within a square containing the symbol, relative atomic mass, and atomic number of that element. The elements in several of the groups have family names. These are:

Group IA (1), the Alkali (or Sodium) Family. These are highly reactive metals, silvery in color, with relatively low densities. They are easily oxidized (corroded) in air and react vigorously with water to form hydrogen gas and a class of compounds called bases (O[H.sup.-]).


where X represents any of the alkali metals (Group IA, or 1).

Due to this oxidation tendency, special storage techniques for these elements in their pure state or form are needed. Many are stored under light oil to keep air and moisture away. These atoms all have only one electron in the outermost shell. Hydrogen (H), sodium (Na), and potassium (K) are commonly used members of Group IA and their reactivity in this group increases from top to bottom of the group in the periodic table. Because of their great reactivity, the compounds they form are more important than the metals themselves, e.g., sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate, sodium silicate, and potassium chloride.

Group IIA (2), the Alkaline-earth (or Calcium) Family.]


Excerpted from Fundamentals of Turfgrass and Agricultural Chemistry by L. B. McCarthy Ian R. Rodriguez B. Todd Bunnell F. Clint Waltz Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents




Fundamentals of Chemistry.

Chemical Properties and Analysis of Water.

Organic Compounds and Their Chemistry.

Plant Biochemistry.

Soil Chemistry Properties.

Plant Nutrition and Turf Fertilizers.

Plant Tissue and Soil Testing.

Pesticide Chemistry and Fate in the Environment.

Appendix A: Electron (Orbital) Pairs.

Appendix B: Naming Inorganic Compounds.

Appendix C: The Metric System.

Appendix D: Unit Analysis.

Appendix E: Conjugate Acids and Bases.




Periodic Table.

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