Mussie Habteselassie (left), a golf course employee and UGA crop and soil sciences researcher Viktor Tishchenko install sensors in the soil on field test plots at the Rivermont Golf Club in Johns Creek, Georgia, to monitor oxygen, temperature and moisture. Rivermont course superintendent Mark Hoban agreed to work with UGA on the project in an industry-leading effort to transition into a golf course system that is more sustainable and less reliant on conventional inputs.

While the old song “Tiny Bubbles” lauds the happy effervescence of a glass of sparkling wine, new University of Georgia research on nanobubbles seeks to discover whether the tiniest of bubbles can hold beneficial properties for turfgrass.

Led by soil microbiologist Mussie Habteselassie, the Georgia Department of Agriculture-sponsored study will evaluate the potential applications of nanobubble technology to control pathogens and improve plant growth, water use efficiency and soil biological health in turfgrass systems. Other researchers on the project include turfgrass and forage pathologist Bochra Bahri and crop and soil scientist David Jespersen, all with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Using technology that generates oxygenated nanobubbles — which are roughly 2500 times smaller than a grain of salt — researchers will apply nano-charged water to turfgrass root systems through irrigation.

Manufacturers of the nanobubble technology say the technology can improve root aeration, increase water use efficiency by changing surface tension and improve soil health by increasing microbial activity.

“This technology is based on the idea of putting oxygen into these tiny, nano-scale bubbles, which have a higher surface area per unit volume and therefore are more stable in liquid than bubbles with larger sizes, such as in carbonated drinks,” said Habteselassie, a professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences on the UGA Griffin campus.