Dec 10, 2020

Everywhere: Healthy #Lawns With #Earthworms Capture More Carbon Dioxide to Build More Soil | Ocean River Institute

----- Forwarded message ----
From: Heather Welch, Ocean River Institute <>
Date: Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 1:01 PM
Subject: Healthy Lawns With Earthworms Capture More Carbon Dioxide to Build More Soil

Volume 190 December 5, 2020

According to this clover munching rabbit natural lawns (not fertilized) are not a monoculture. Photo by Gary Bending on Unsplash

Healthy Lawns With Earthworms Capture More Carbon Dioxide to Build More Soil

Hello Liz,

Think about the last time you stepped on grass or sat on it for a picnic. While you were doing that, the grass repairs itself, pulls carbon from the atmosphere, and stores liquid carbon in the ground as soil. All the other plants benefit from soil built by lawn grass. 

In my research on the impacts of fertilizer on established lawns, fertilizer actively works against the natural cycles and activities that occur in healthy lawns. For example, earthworms are engineers that keep lawns healthy by redistributing organic matter and nutrients throughout the soil. Earthworms also burrow, which allows air and water to travel underneath the surface and breaks up soil so grass roots can grow. In their gut, earthworms grind up plant fibers and add minerals to the mash. Bacteria lower in the gut further work the material making it more accessible to plants. Healthy lawns with earthworms can absorb 9 inches of rainwater. Without earthworms, your lawn is more prone to flooding as its sponge-like ability to absorb water is reduced. 
Photo by Gary Bending on Unsplash

The negative impacts of fertilizer are numerous. Aside from earthworms, fertilizer harms many other important critters in the soil food web, including nematodes and springtails. Fertilizer causes grass to green up quickly. This grass has thin, wimpy blades with superficial roots, which attracts pests and weeds. The nutrients from fertilizer often travel into nearby water bodies through leaching and rainfall runoff. This causes toxic summer algal blooms in your local lakes and rivers that kill plants, fish, and even dogs.

Soils thrive when fertilizer is not spread on established lawns. More natural lawns sequester more carbon, require less watering, and don't pollute. Natural lawns contribute to a healthier planet, a healthier neighborhood, and a healthier you.
Photo by Gary Bending on Unsplash

Together, we can demonstrate that people care about healthy robust lawns for family, pets, wildlife, as well as carbon sequestration. Together, we can make a difference.

I welcome any comments, questions, or concerns you have about this campaign. I am also happy to assist you in any way in spreading the word among your community. 

Kind regards,

Heather Welch (Northeastern University)
Ocean River Institute Intern 

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