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Research Project: Improving Air Quality, Soil Health and Nutrient Use Efficiency to Increase Northwest Agroecosystem Performance

Location: Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research

Title: Carbon sequestration in turfgrass-soil systems

item WANG, RUYING - Oregon State University
item MATTOX, CLINT - Oregon State University
item Phillips, Claire
item KOWALEWSKI, ALEXANDER - Oregon State University

Submitted to: Plants
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2022
Publication Date: 9/22/2022
Citation: Wang, R., Mattox, C.M., Phillips, C.L., Kowalewski, A.R. 2022. Carbon sequestration in turfgrass-soil systems. Plants. 11(19). Article 2478.

Interpretive Summary: Turfgrass is common within urban landscapes and serves many functions, including potentially sequestering soil carbon. However, turfgrass can include different species, and is managed for many different uses that influence its potential to sequester carbon. Intensively managed areas such as golf courses tees, greens, and athletic fields are mowed more frequently and are applied with more fertilizer than low intensity management areas, such as gold course roughs, parks, and home lawns. This manuscript summarizes what is known about how turfgrass use, species selection, turfgrass age, and management practices impact carbon sequestration. It is shown that both high-intensity and low-intensity managed turfgrass can sequester carbon, but maintenance-related emissions partially offset carbon sequestration benefits. Therefore, chosing appropriate turfgrass species that are more adapted to the local climate and require less irrigation and mowing can save significant maintenance-related emissions. Sequestration rates also diminish through time as turfgrass system mature, so the climate benefits of turfgrass are temporary and likely persist less than 50 years. These findings will be helpful for the turfgrass and lawncare industries to better understand opportunities and liabilities stemming from emerging carbon markets and climate legislation.

Technical Abstract: Plants are key components of the terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle. Atmospheric CO2 is assimi-lated through photosynthesis and stored in the plant biomass and in the soil. The use of turfgrass is expanding due to the increased human population and urbanization. In this review, we summarized recent carbon sequestration research in turfgrass and compare turfgrass systems to other plant systems. Turfgrasses are generally carbon neutral or carbon sinks with the exception of intensively managed areas such as golf course tees and greens, and athletic fields. Turfgrass used for low intensity management areas, such as golf course fairways and roughs, parks, and home lawns, have the potential to contribute to carbon sequestration if proper management practices are implemented. Future research is needed to document the complete carbon footprint as well as identifying the best management practices to enhance carbon sequestration in turfgrass systems.