Seed World

Let Your Lawn Produce its Own Fertilizer and Fulfil UN Goals

Product Development Manager Turf Grass,

Anne Mette Dahl Jensen is Product Development Manager Turf Grass at DLF. She has a PhD in Biology and a long experience in endophyte and turf grass research, advice on maintenance and establishment and in consultancy service and advice to authorities on the topics; maintenance and establishment of urban green and gray areas, pesticide free maintenance, artificial turf, golf course maintenance and climate projects

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Fertilizers costs are sky-high, and it is really adding to the benefits of the nitrogen fixating clovers. It can be-grass pastures with clover that are capable of producing protein for feed with less need for fertilizer application. This was the subject in the January 2022 Insiders column ( ). Or it can be good looking low input microclover lawns.

It is important to have in mind the impact of nitrogen when trying to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2 (zero hunger), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 12 (responsible production and consumption), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water), and 15 (life on land). As a result, UN launched a global campaign on sustainable nitrogen management in 2019 because there is a need for applying an approach to improving nitrogen use efficiency.

As seed producers, we can help by developing products that can be maintained with a sustainable nitrogen management. Or it can be lawns. Large areas in cities are occupied by lawns created of different grass species used for sports, other recreational activities and ornaments. These are important areas for leisure, and to obtain a decent quality on a lawn, nitrogen fertilizer is traditionally applied in a substantial amount especially if a lot of wear is applied by the public.

Should a lawn contain pure grass to meet the needs of the users? No, not necessarily.
A lawn can be a combination of grass and microclover – a special bred dwarf white clover with smaller leaves and a lower growth habit. It does not develop clumps like forage white clover and tolerates mowing at 20 mm. Microclover joins in well with turf species and provides a dense, uniform appearance and creates a more drought tolerant lawn that stays green longer.

One of the advantages of adding microclover to the lawn is that clover by their root nodules, formed by the Rhizobiumbacteria, converts atmospheric nitrogen into a natural fertilizer available for the clover as well as the companion grasses. It has been documented in numerous trials that nitrogen fertilizer application can be significantly reduced when Microclover is a component of a lawn. The nitrogen supply will also be an ongoing supplement instead of the plants being given a nitrogen shock when the supply takes place 1 or 2 times a year.

It is a challenge to change the perception that a lawn contains only grass species and looks very uniform, to get a versatile use of microclover on public lawns, private gardens and extensive sport areas. With microclover it will look more versatile. It is our job to demonstrate that the qualities of the lawn can be maintained even if it contains microclover because the higher goal is more sustainable turf with less nitrogen input. And the bees will love the tiny white flowers producing nectar and pollen.

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