The Groundsman

December 2012

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ENVIRONMENTAL 35 the Groundsman December 2012 Species Soil Total 2.47 18.92 -4.17 17.22 1.82 4.64 +6.83 13.29 Tall fescue 1.38 5.68 +2.86 10.00 Smooth-stalked meadowgrass Fossil energy is used for the production of fertiliser and for carrying out fertilisation, mowing and irrigation. At the same time, the demands for natural grass get higher with more playing hours wanted on a pitch each week. The season now seems to run longer and longer, and leaves less opportunity for maintenance. Roots Perennial ryegrass more trials (and time) before there is more quantitative information on this subject. Shoots Red fescue Table 1: Quantity of CO2 captured in leaves, roots, and soil (ton CO2/ha /year). 1.76 8.24 -3.45 6.55 Reducing impacts The alternative solution, artificial turf, is far less environmentally friendly because it generates carbon dioxide during production, installation and maintenance, and there are no benefits of carbon capture during use because it does not contain living plants. The question is: what is there to gain in terms of species and variety selection in mixtures? Can we maintain or even improve quality, while also reducing negative environmental impacts? DLF is currently running trials to identify the carbon capturing abilities at the variety level. These results will be used by the company's breeders to improve the carbon capture rates of varieties and for calculating the carbon sequestration abilities of different grass seed mixtures. Making a difference DLF & Johnsons Sports Seed can supply a range of products that, says Derek Smith, can make a difference to carbon footprint: ● 4turf, the company's turf-type tetraploid ryegrasses, can result in CO2 emissions being reduced by 10 per cent. The plants emerge faster and are stronger than 'conventional' perennial ryegrass plants. Deeper rooting helps to minimise irrigation and a better disease resistance allows for lower inputs of plant protection products - for example, 15 per cent lower nitrogen and phosphate inputs. The combined effects of using iSeed can result in 15 per cent lower carbon emissions. When using iSeed, a reduced amount of fertiliser is needed because of the efficient placement of nitrogen and phosphate in the seed coating. Broadcasted fertilisers will only work after rain or watering; and fertiliser particles that are mixed through into the soil are ● often too far away from the seedling. Research has shown that iSeed enhances the growth of more plants in the field, generates deeper rooting (less irrigation) and there are fewer weeds (less herbicides) because the germination of weed seeds will be reduced or have no benefit from the fertiliser. The outcome is more playing hours at a lower cost in terms of money and environment. This also lowers fuel inputs for fertilisation. The combination of 4turf, iSeed and Microclover into a mixture will result in a more sustainable outcome and the improved quality will also lead to less frequent frequent field renewals, again resulting in a significant reduced emission of CO2. Kg CO2eq % Normal 8109 100 4TURF With Microclover, there are 35 per cent less carbon emissions compared to a normal field, which equals 3,000 kgs of CO2 per field a year. Microclover is a turf-type micro leaf white clover that can capture most of the required nitrogen from the air – therefore, inputs of nitrogen fertilisers can be reduced to around 50kg N per hectare per year. Also, herbicide inputs will be reduced as the Microclover stolons close gaps faster, giving weeds less competitive opportunity to establish. It results in a wear tolerance that is at least at the level of a pure grass sward. ● Maintenance scenario 7306 90 iSeed 6915 85 Microclover 5270 65 Table 2: Production of CO2 eq per field per year. A sports pitch that is maintained to accommodate 400 playing hours per year and is fertilised at 200 kg N/ha/year, will generate 8,114 kg CO2 per field per year.

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