The Journal of Environmental Management says turf grass is the largest crop in America about 40 million acres. This would include Lawns, Sports turf and Golf courses. There is a concern that with all this turf watering it could put a strain on our water system and environment. U.S. News & World report wrote about this issue on 5/08/05. There were some calculations made on an assumption that all 40 million acres would be irrigated. It is very doubtful that the largest percentage of the turf grass grown is irrigated. A large percentage of Golf courses and Sports turf would be irrigated but a much smaller percentage of home lawns would be irrigated. I would agree that too much water is used regardless and water will be precious in the future.
I wrote a couple of years ago about an article put out by Agresource in Massachusetts. A public works manager in Deven, MA. put compost on 40 acres of sports turf over a period of three years. The application was 25 cubic yards per acre in conjunction with core aeration. The results were fantastic. His fertilizer and chemical costs went from $75,000 per year down to $28,000 and his water usage went from 3 million gallons per year to .6 million gallons. This is 1/5 of the beginning use.
Now the article from U.S. News & World Report made the assumption that if all acreage was watered at we would use as much as 238 gallons of water per person per day in the growing season. As I said I do not believe that many acres are irrigated but if 1/2 of that use or 119 gallons per day per person in the growing season was used that is still too much.
Now let’s take the results the public works manager in Mass had and extrapolate it to the lower water usage. By applying compost and managing the soil for best water use and the least chemical use it would take the water use down to 24 gallons of water or even at the higher level it would be 47.6 gallons. We need to protect our water, soil and environment so my question is simple why don’t we manage all our turf grass for least use of water and chemicals?
Finally the article also mentioned that lush turf grass pulls green house gas out of the atmosphere the number they used was that turf grass could consume about 5% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
I just finished exhibiting at the U S Compost Council Conference and drove out of Oakland north to Dixon California. California is having a terrible drought, everything is brown. California has a huge number of Compost facilities and could use the compost on turf. This is had for me to make sense of since California is usually leading the US in things that concern the environment. Brown turf grass probably doesn’t soak up any green house grass.