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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 3, p. 892-897
    Received: June 24, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): jamador@uri.edu
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Quantification and Implications of Soil Losses from Commercial Sod Production

  1. David Millar,
  2. Mark Stolt and
  3. José A. Amador *
  1. Dep. of Natural Resources Science, Coastal Institute–Kingston, Univ. of Rhode Island Kingston, RI 02881


Commercial sod farms occupy about 1.62 × 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 United States. Sod harvest resulted in soil losses ranging from 74 to 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 United States results in the net, permanent loss of 12.0 to 18.7 Tg of agriculturally productive soil from sod farms—and associated ecosystem services—every year. The soil losses reported here have important implications in terms of land use planning, transactions involving the purchase of development rights, and tax deductions for

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