A turfgrass study conducted by Ranajit Sahu, Ph.D., an independent environmental and energy expert and University instructor, on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), shows that responsibly managed lawns sequester, or store, significant amounts of carbon. In fact, healthy turfgrass can capture up to four times more carbon from the air than is produced by the engine of today’s lawnmowers. The findings are based on several peer-reviewed, scientific studies and models where carbon sequestration had been measured in managed and unmanaged turfgrass. The full report is available at www.opei.org/carbonreport.
“We were unsure about the study’s outcome, but existing data shows that a net carbon benefit exists from well-managed turfgrass, such as the typical American lawn,” said Sahu, who reviewed existing data to determine the carbon sequestered by turfgrass, such as household lawns, golf courses, and sports fields, as well as wild grassland systems. “When you take care of your lawn and promote a healthy root system, your lawn acts as a carbon sink, pulling and storing away carbon.”
The report, titled Technical Assessment of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Managed Turfgrass in the United States, assesses the carbon benefit of well-managed turfgrasses that are cut regularly and at the appropriate height, fed with nutrients, such as grass clippings, watered in a responsible way, and not disturbed at the root zone.
“It turns out that you can reduce your carbon footprint right in your own backyard,” said Kris Kiser, Vice President, Public Affairs, OPEI. “Mowing grass and pruning shrubs and trees keeps plants in a growing state. This, in turn, ensures they are actively pulling carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas -- from the air.”
Added Sahu, “your lawn, if managed properly, can be essentially a decent foot soldier in our quest to reduce our carbon footprint. The key is to actively manage your lawn to improve its carbon intake, and not letting it ‘go to seed’ and into a “dormant state.”
Sahu has taught and continues to teach numerous courses in several Southern California universities including UCLA (air pollution), UC Riverside (air pollution, process hazard analysis), and Loyola Marymount University (air pollution, risk assessment, hazardous waste management) for the past fifteen years.
Sahu has and continues to provide expert witness services in a number of environmental areas in both state and Federal courts as well as before administrative bodies.