Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Commercial sod farms occupy about 1.62 X 103 km2 of the landscape of the United States. Land managers generally consider sod farms on an equal footing with other, sustainable agricultural land uses. We measured soil losses associated with sod harvesting in farms in the northeastern U.S. Sod harvest resulted in soil losses ranging from 74 – 114 Mg ha-1 yr-1; considerably higher than the tolerable soil loss of 6.7 Mg ha-1 yr-1. Soil losses were proportional to time under sod production, with soil removal rates of 0.833 cm yr-1. We estimate that sod harvesting in the U.S. results in the permanent loss of 1.20 to 1.85 X 107 Mg of productive soil – and associated ecosystem services – every year. The unsustainable nature of this agricultural enterprise needs to be considered in the land use planning process.