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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Livestock Nutrient Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #412142

Research Project: Strategies to Manage Feed Nutrients, Reduce Gas Emissions, and Promote Soil Health for Beef and Dairy Cattle Production Systems of the Southern Great Plains

Location: Livestock Nutrient Management Research

Title: Disposal of grass clippings from sports turfs - effect of fertilization for gaseous emissions and pollution in leachate

item SOBOL, LUKASZ - Wroclaw University Of Environmental And Life Sciences
item Koziel, Jacek
item STEGENTA-DABROWSKA, SYLWIA - Wroclaw University Of Environmental And Life Sciences

Submitted to: Research Square
Publication Type: Pre-print Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2024
Publication Date: 1/10/2024
Citation: Sobol, L., Koziel, J.A., Stegenta-Dabrowska, S. 2024. Disposal of grass clippings from sports turfs - effect of fertilization for gaseous emissions and pollution in leachate. Research Square. Available:

Interpretive Summary: When grass clippings from sports turfs and lawns are properly composted, they can generate nutrient-rich soil amendments. Lesser known is the extent of air and water pollution caused by this common practice. In this research, a team of engineers and scientists from Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences (Poland) and ARS-Bushland (Texas) studied the environmental impact of clippings composting. It was found that the uncontrolled decomposition of grass clippings can generate significant carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. More research is needed to account for CO emissions in inventories of this highly toxic gas. In addition, decomposing grass clippings showed a great potential for leaching of nitrogen and organic compounds especially from no- or less-fertilized grass. Results support earlier findings that leaching from sports fields can be controlled and minimized with the right combination of fertilization and irrigation of turfs.

Technical Abstract: Mowing sports turfs and grass surfaces generates waste biomass in the form of grass clippings. Biomass composting is commonly practiced to generate nutrient-rich soil amendments. However, decomposing biomass can have adverse environmental effects. This research investigated: (1) the kinetics of CO, CO2, and O2 emissions during the decomposition of grass clippings, (2) the leaching potential of organic and nitrogen compounds in the initially decomposed grass clippings. In addition, the potential for CO emissions was further assessed with artificial neural network simulation. Grass clippings from the mowing of four football fields with different levels of nitrogen fertilization and agrotechnical treatments were studied. The clippings were collected during three periods characteristic of the league season – spring (spring round), summer (preparatory period), and autumn (autumn round). The results showed that grass clippings from sports turfs can generate up to 5 times more CO emissions compared to previous experiments where the decomposition of a mixture of grass and cattle manure was evaluated. CO2 production and O2 consumption were relatively similar for all seasons, except for clippings from the unfertilized A4 pitch. No significant differences were observed between variants with different levels of nitrogen fertilization and season, which can probably be explained by using turf pesticides, widely known as substances that strongly affect microbes growing in the soil. Clippings from low-fertilized or non-fertilized grasslands were more likely to have a higher leachability potential. Results confirm that the proper timing of irrigation and fertilization during the growing season can limit/control leaching from grass clippings.