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Soil Organic Carbon Input from Urban Turfgrasses

Qian, Yaling, Follett, Ronald F., Kimble, John M.
Soil Science Society of America journal 2010 v.74 no.2 pp. 366
lawns and turf, turf grasses, soil organic carbon, urban areas, suburban areas, turf management, irrigation, mowing, carbon sequestration, biodegradation, Festuca, Poa pratensis, Agrostis stolonifera var. palustris, stable isotopes, carbon, species differences, Nebraska
Turfgrass is a major vegetation type in the urban and suburban environment. Management practices such as species selection, irrigation, and mowing may affect C input and storage in these systems. Research was conducted to determine the rate of soil organic C (SOC) changes, soil C sequestration, and SOC decomposition of fine fescue (spp.) (rainfed and irrigated), Kentucky bluegrass (L.) (irrigated), and creeping bentgrass (Huds.) (irrigated) using C isotope techniques. We found that 4 yr after establishment, about 17 to 24% of SOC at 0 to 10 cm and 1 to 13% from 10 to 20 cm was derived from turfgrass. Irrigated fine fescue added the most SOC (3.35 Mg C ha yr) to the 0- to 20-cm soil profile but also had the highest rate of SOC decomposition (2.61 Mg C ha yr). The corresponding additions and decomposition rates for unirrigated fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and creeping bentgrass in the top 20-cm soil profile were 1.39 and 0.87, 2.05 and 1.73, and 2.28 and 1.50 Mg C ha yr, respectively. Irrigation increased both SOC input and decomposition. We found that all turfgrasses exhibited significant C sequestration (0.32–0.78 Mg ha yr) during the first 4 yr after turf establishment. The net C sequestration rate was higher, however, for irrigated fine fescue and creeping bentgrass than for Kentucky bluegrass. To evaluate total C balance, additional work is needed to evaluate the total C budget and fluxes of the other greenhouse gases in turfgrass systems.