The Groundsman

December 2012

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34 ENVIRONMENTAL the Groundsman December 2012 Carbon footprint – Derek Smith, DLF Trifolium's Amenity Sales & Marketing Manager the shape of things to come DLF Trifolium's Derek Smith outlines how different products and maintenance strategies can affect the amount of CO2 produced by a sports pitch While the use of nitrogen fertilisers, the frequency of mowing and other maintenance activities appear to have the most impact on a sport pitch's carbon footprint, the seed mixture used could also play a significant role. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is certainly influenced by the capture of CO2 by the growing grasses and Turf Diploid Ryegrass Standard Turf Mix clovers - more growth means more carbon capture. Most of the carbon is sequestrated in grass roots. Literature indicates that sports pitches build up organic matter in the roots at a constant rate during 30 to 40 years, but this is offset by the production of CO2 in the maintenance of sports pitches by the use of fossil energy (oil, gas and coal). 4Turf Microclover Turf Mix Capturing carbon Until now, little was known about differences between species in capturing carbon. In a field trial in central France, DLF compared five grass species. During a period of 30 months after sowing, the field was mown 25-30 times at a height of 25 mm. The fertilisation level was 150 kg N/ha/year. At the end of the trial, 20 cm deep plugs were taken and separated into above ground parts (leaves and stems), roots and soil; the increased organic matter content of the soil resulted from dead roots of the grass plants. In each group, the quantity of CO2 sequestered during the 2.5 years was assessed and as can be seen (Table 1), red fescue captured most carbon, both in above and below ground parts. Perennial ryegrass came second. Tall fescue and perennial ryegrass roots can be transformed into organic matter in the soil relatively quickly. The quantities shown in Table 1 are specific for the test conditions. For example, at higher fertilisation levels, more sequestration will occur and with lower mowing heights, less sequestration. Golf greens are able to capture around 3.5 ton CO2 per year per ha. Climatic factors like precipitation, daylight hours and temperature also play an important role. In general though, the better the growing conditions, the more carbon is captured. As there are many combinations of climate and field management, it will take many

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