According to NASA scientists, in the United States more surface area is covered by lawn than by any other single irrigated crop. Traditionally managed lawns are resource-heavy, requiring irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides to thrive in our climate. Despite the “costs” lawns and turf are a predominant feature of the landscape and are valued for recreation as well aesthetics.
With growing environmental awareness along with new regulations, it is imperative that responsible homeowners as well as lawn and turf professionals manage lawns and turf in the most ecological manner.
Following emerging best practices, it’s possible to create healthy lawns and turf that are functional and aesthetic and are managed in a way that eliminates negative impacts on human health and the environment, meets regulatory guidelines, and is cost effective. And when considering ecological lawns, one solution that is gaining momentum is to reduce or remove lawns in favor of more biodiverse alternatives.
On the one hand, it’s ironic to talk about “ecological” lawn management for something that is entirely an unnatural, human construct. On the other hand, healthy and functional home turf doesn’t have to entail all that much work. Consistent, well-timed, and appropriate management techniques, and minimal (if any) synthetic chemical use can result in a lawn that meets most people’s needs without profligate resource use. Proper mowing, timely overseeding, and a well-planned nutrient and biostimulant program are essential components of any conscientious lawn-care program. And, proper soil preparation prior to establishing a new lawn goes a long way toward long-term success.
Developing and implementing a soil and nutrient management program based on best management practices is critical to the proper management of turf with environmental protection, natural resource preservation, and economic viability as priorities.
Regulations regarding the sale, use, and application of fertilizer and nutrients on non-agricultural turf and in the landscape have been enacted by many states and communities. Mary Owen will provide an overview of how the newest legislation affects homeowners and landscape practitioners and will discuss strategies for implementing best nutrient management practices for turf with protection of water resources as the priority.
Wild bees, European honeybees, and other insects and animals are responsible for pollinating many of our most important crops and ornamentals – and their numbers are dwindling. Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticide that has been strongly associated with pollinator disturbance, is currently widely used by the landscape and nursery trades, horticulturalists, farmers, and homeowners. Dan Bensonoff will discuss neonicotinoids and explain the steps proposed legislation would take to protect pollinators in Massachusetts. By passing H.2113, An Act To Protect Pollinators In The Commonwealth (D-Dykema), products containing “neonics” could only be used by only those individuals certified with a pesticide license. The bill also limits use of the chemical during the blooming season and adds education about pollinator impacts to the pesticide licensing process.
Lawns are a soul-crushing timesuck. Just read the headline of a recent article on washingtonpost.com. According to NASA, in the United States more surface area is covered by lawn than by any other single irrigated crop. Lawns are resource-heavy, requiring irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides to thrive in our climate and most of us would be better off reducing or eliminating them altogether. Learn how to replace your lawn with native plant alternatives that functional, beautiful, and environmentally friendly.
3:15-4:45 Panel Discussion –Dan Jaffe, Moderator and Afternoon Speakers
This moderated discussion will follow up on speaker presentations and provide an opportunity for Q&A that encourages audience participation.
CEUs are being sought for this program.
Dan Bensonoff is the NOFA Policy Director & Education Events Organizer. Dan trained alongside NOFA’s long-standing policy director, Jack Kittredge, as he transitioned into his new role at NOFA/Mass soil carbon analyst. In this role, Dan continues NOFA’s policy work in keeping with the basic values: respect for the land and solidarity with organic farmers. NOFA continues the fight to keep organic farming true to its principles, and campaigns for legislation that minimizes unnecessary government regulations while enhancing a thriving local food economy.
Nick Novick owns and operates Small Planet Landscaping, which provides environmentally responsible land-care services including design, installation, and maintenance of meadows, woodland gardens and other habitat types based on native-plant communities. Other services include home orchard care, and lawn fertility and weed management. In addition to his degree in Environmental Conservation, Nick is a graduate of the UMass Extension Green School; and is a Rhode Island/CRMS Coastal Invasive Plant Manager; and is the ELA representative on the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group. Nick is a former ELA board member and newsletter editor.
Mary Owen, a veteran educator, is the team leader and technical specialist for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Extension Turf Program where she oversees the development of programs and publications for lawn and land care professions. Mary provides technical consultations for professional turf and grounds managers, volunteer and community groups, and others interested in lawn and land care. She is a founding member of the New England Sports Turf Managers Association and is an active participant in the Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals, the New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation, and the national Sports Turf Managers Association. Mary has also served on her local Conservation Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission.
Mark Richardson oversees the New England Wild Flower Society’s botanic garden, Garden in the Woods, and its native plant nursery operation, Nasami Farm in Whately, Massachusetts. He studied ornamental horticulture at University of Rhode Island and helped run a mid-sized ornamental plant nursery before finding his true passion in public horticulture. He led undergraduate programs at Longwood Gardens, overhauled the curriculum of the Professional Gardener Program, and oversaw adult education at Brookside Gardens. In 2013, Mr. Richardson assisted with the development of the first comprehensive master plan for Garden in the Woods. He holds a MS from the University of Delaware’s Longwood Graduate Program.