The Groundsman

May 2013

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26 TECHNICAL UPDATE The research also revealed that: • Through adherence to manufacturers' recommended application rates, the relatively large quantities of mineral fertilisers typically applied to sports fields could be reduced by almost a quarter which, in turn, would reduce the carbon footprint by 8.5 per cent and lead to a 4 per cent decline in the total environmental impact. • Great improvements could be made in the production process of nitrogen-based fertilisers - nitrous oxide emissions could be trapped and prevented from entering the environment, or nitrate could be replaced with another type of fertiliser,such as urea. • The environment would also benefit from the use of more organic and controlled-release fertilisers with increased longevity. On an annual basis, less diesel would then be required for their application and, in comparison with mineral agricultural fertilisers, the risk of leaching decreases. • Over the entire life cycle, the annual maintenance of a grass sports field has by far the greatest impact on the environment. Of the emission sources that can be influenced, diesel consumption accounts for the largest share at 30 per cent. • The use of low-growing grass varieties and those requiring less mowing can reduce diesel consumption. • The use of fossil diesel could also be avoided through the use of mowers running on green energy, such as electric, possibly in combination with solar power, or through the use of LPG or renewable fuels. • If the carbon that has been 'fixed' in the soil remains stored in it - even after the removal of the sports field at the end of its usable life - the carbon footprint can be reduced by 29 per cent. If the fixed carbon is released through the oxidation of the organic matter when the sports field is removed, this percentage will be 9 per cent. • If an old sports field is replaced, it is important to ensure that the fixed carbon is not released under the new one. Environmental impact Of the items that can be influenced (diagram, opposite page), diesel consumption accounts for the largest share of the environmental impact (around 30 per cent), followed by the emissions resulting from the use (around 20 per cent) and the production (15 per cent to 20 per cent) of mineral fertilisers. There is a linear connection between diesel consumption and the environmental impact. If diesel consumption declines by 10 per cent, for instance, then the total environmental impact will decline by more than 2.5 per cent. The carbon footprint will, in fact, become around 3.5 per cent smaller. The amount of mineral fertilisers used in the 500 playing hours/annum category is almost 25 per cent more than the recommended amount. If fertilisers were to be applied in line with the manufacturers' recommendations, the total environmental impact would be reduced by 4 per cent and the carbon footprint reduced by 8.5 per cent. It is not yet entirely clear what happens to the carbon that is 'fixed' within the soil when the sports field is removed after the usable life of 30 years. Despite this uncertainty, the research does indicate the contribution of the carbon fixation to Carbon footprint per life cycle phase and sports field scenario (in kg of CO2 equivalents per field/annum) Visit for more information and digital editions the Groundsman May 2013 Temperature differences An American study involving the measurement of the average temperature on artificial and natural grass in a test location between 7am and 7pm demonstrated that the surface of artificial grass can heat up considerably. Temperatures on the artificial grass field reached 47°C to 69°C, while the measurements for the natural grass field read 26°C, reaching a peak of 32°C. When the artificial grass was watered, the temperature dropped, but then rose again sharply. Even in the shade, higher surface temperatures were recorded than on natural grass fields. Excessive temperatures can result in burn wounds, fatigue and an increased risk of injury. environmental impact: the CO2 footprint declines by 29 per cent if the carbon is stored permanently in the soil. Even assuming a worst-case scenario - all the fixed carbon being released as CO2 at the end of 30 years - this still means a reduction of 625 kgs CO2 equivalents per sports field per annum (due to the temporary CO2 storage), that is a 8.6 per cent smaller carbon footprint. Diagram: the scenario 'AVERAGE, high N usage' relates to a field with average playing frequency and a high maintenance level. If the amount of fertiliser used is more than the standardised amount, the CO2 load for the field concerned will be greater. Construction refers to the creation of the new sports field, including the removal of the old sports field

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