Client News

Gainesville Sun: Tom Feeney: Healthy grass is better for our environment

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In Florida, we are all conscious of the health of water – our precious, finite resource. As members of the Florida Partnership for Sustainable Greenspaces, we have a unique perspective as green industry professionals. We live and work in greenspaces every day. They are not only one of the many reasons why we are so proud to call Florida home, they are also our livelihoods and an important part of our lives. When we take care of these greenspaces, we adhere to very stringent guidelines based on the latest scientific research available. Without this scientific data, it would be impossible to have a guideline, regulation or best management practice that would be effective in helping Florida protect its water.

The Florida Partnership for Sustainable Greenspaces is excited to learn more about the latest research commissioned by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Through the department’s commitment and funding, we have new insights into the nutrient leaching rate of common Florida grass species. After three years in the field, the experts at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have finalized the project. Their research findings clearly show that healthy turf grass diminishes nitrogen leaching when fertilizer is correctly applied.

The wealth of data supports some things we already know: healthy grass is better for our environment and water. What we can learn from this research is how best to care for Florida’s greenspaces. This study demonstrates that the maintenance of healthy grass means less nutrients end up in our waterways. Eliminating necessary nutrients from our greenspaces during the peak growing season – sometimes known as a “summer blackout” – has the opposite intended effect because it weakens the ability of Florida’s greenspaces to capture pollutants and leaves our surface water more vulnerable to pollution runoff.

As a trusted and innovative agricultural research facility, IFAS is known for its steadfast commitment to providing industry and homeowners alike with the scientific information needed to maintain healthy lawns and keep Florida’s water clean and protected. We applaud IFAS and the Florida DEP for working together to undertake this important research that gives us pivotal information that can inform Florida’s policies and guidelines.

The birth of new information is a chance for us all to re-evaluate how we do things; enhance policies and practices with the benefit of fresh findings; and ensure our actions have the best possible outcome for Florida, its greenspaces and water. The Florida Partnership for Sustainable Greenspaces is excited to work with other interested groups to make the most of this new information and continue to improve Florida’s environment.

Tom Feeney is the chair of the Florida Partnership for Sustainable Greenspaces and president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.

« Return to News