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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Assessing Soil Carbon Sequestration in Turfgrass Systems Using Long-Term Soil Testing Data

Authors
item Qian, Y - CSU
item Follett, Ronald

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2002
Publication Date: January 20, 2002
Citation: QIAN,Y.L., FOLLETT,R.F., ASSESSING SOIL CARBON SEQUESTRATION IN TURFGRASS SYSTEMS USING LONG-TERM SOIL TESTING DATA, AGRONOMY JOURNAL, 2002. 94:930-935.

Interpretive Summary: This journal paper discusses the increasing importance of turfgrass as urbanization occupies an increasing percentage of land throughout the U.S. Because of high productivity and lack of soil disturbance, turfgrass may be making substantial contributions to sequester atmospheric carbon. To determine the rate and capacity of soil carbon (C) sequestration, an extensive long-term data set was compiled from 15 golf courses that were near metropolitan Denver and Fort Collins, CO and one golf course near Saratoga, WY as a surrogate of urban turfgrass systems. The oldest golf course was 45 years old and the newest was 1.5 years old. On all fairway sites, soils were indigenous. Analyses showed the total C sequestration continued for up to 45 years in putting greens at an average rate approaching 0.9 ton ha-1 year-1, and for about 31 years in fairways at an average rate approaching 1.1 ton ha-1 year-1. These results suggest that C sequestration in turf soils occurs at a significant rate that is comparable or exceeds those reported for US land that has been placed in the conservation reserve program.

Technical Abstract: As part of the urbanization process, an increasing percentage of land throughout the U.S. is being converted into turfgrass. Because of high productivity and lack of soil disturbance, turfgrass may be making substantial contributions to sequester atmospheric carbon. To determine the rate and capacity of soil carbon (C) sequestration, we compiled historic soil testing data from parts of 15 golf courses that were near metropolitan Denver and Fort Collins, CO and one golf course near Saratoga, WY. In addition, we compiled a total of about 690 data sets on previous land use, soil texture, grass species and type, fertilization rate, irrigation, and other management practices. The oldest golf course was 45 years old in 2000, and 12 years of soil testing results were available; the newest golf course was 1.5 years old. On all fairway sites, soils were indigenous. However, soils from most green and tee sites were not indigenous; about 30 cm of sand was placed over a gravel layer or native soil. Nonlinear regression analysis of compiled historic data indicated a strong pattern of soil organic matter (SOM) response to decades of turfgrass culture. Total C sequestration continued for up to 45 years in putting greens at an average rate approaching 0.9 ton ha-1 year-1, and for about 31 years in fairways at an average rate approaching 1.1 ton ha-1 year-1. These results suggest that C sequestration in turf soils occurs at a significant rate that is comparable or exceeds those reported for US land that has been placed in the conservation reserve program. Our study also found that past land use imparted a strong control of SOM baseline; fairways converted from agricultural lands exhibited 24% lower SOM than fairways converted from native grasslands. Golf course SOM was 20-45% higher in fairways and greens than on tees.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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