The Groundsman

December 2014

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TECHNICAL UPDATE 22 the Groundsman December 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions ur 'green and pleasant land' is massively underperforming in terms of its environmental benefit and contribution. It is estimated that the green infrastructure - urban green spaces, parks, recreation grounds and other public access-managed grassland areas – embraces more than 300,000 hectares (or 1,160 sq miles). It is here, with 'greenfield regeneration', where we could make 'green' so much greener. With a local government spend of over £500 million per annum on grass cutting and maintenance, significant long-term savings of at least 30 per cent can be achieved by using slow-growing, low maintenance cultivars. Such cultivars would still achieve that managed grassland, 'green lawn' effect, but some also offer significantly sustainable attributes, including: • Hugely efficient bio sequestration (carbon storage) capabilities - performing 300 per cent more efficiently than traditional amenity grassland varieties; and • Exceptionally deep-rooting cultivars assist soil structure formation and aggregation, enhancing the soil's capability to receive, store and infiltrate excessive O 'Sward swaps' offer carbon credits and cash-back Introducing slow-growing, low-maintenance 'carbon grasses' to open public spaces would significantly improve the nation's quest for carbon credits and dramatically reduce grass-cutting costs By: Robert Donald rainfall. As such, they align strongly with the currently desirable sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) initiatives and in turn, through their deep roots, contribute to the mechanical stability and longevity of urban green space areas. Putting carbon back where it belongs We are all aware that we are emitting far more carbon than the Earth can currently absorb. Assuming we all have relatively basic understanding of the global carbon cycle - whereby we identify carbon sources and subsequent bio sequestration - currently this cycle is unbalanced on a global scale and huge governmental efforts and environmental mitigation measures (Climate Change Act 2008 and the Kyoto protocol) are being realised to redress the imbalance. Extensive bio sequestration in areas of permanent perennial grassland has attracted a lot of global focus as a particularly efficient method of sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide as solidified carbon compounds within global soil regimes. It is fascinating to note that one hectare of permanent perennial grassland has the annual capacity to sequester 13 tonnes of carbon within the soil, compared with one hectare of deciduous woodland that comparatively will only sequester two tonnes. This remarkable fact challenges the misconception that 'to plant a tree is to save the Earth'. The answer is literally under our feet, we need to put carbon back where it belongs - in the soil. All we need is sunlight and green grass. Carbon grass introduction Tufts University in Boston has extensive analysis of grassland bio sequestration and demonstrates that carbon is effectively and incrementally stored within a soil medium for 50 plus years showing annual increases before the carbon levels begin to plateau. This soil organic matter (carbon) can be accurately measured, with the acid loss technique being the preferred test methodology. Like an iceberg - the biomass visible above ground is increased by a factor of four for the biomass (roots) evident in the earth

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