MULCHING prices are soaring in Alberta, as the province’s forestry association looks to save as much as $100,000 annually by reducing the use of turf grasses in its annual culls.
“I have heard from many of our members that we can save up to $100K by reducing our use of all kinds of turf,” said Wayne Stewart, president of the Association of Canadian Forestry Associations (ACFA).
“It is really important to understand that turf is not just a problem for our farmers and ranchers.
It is a problem across the country, so it is a major factor in our ability to keep up with the growing demand for our products.”
The ACFA, a non-profit association that represents about 200,000 landowners and landowners’ groups across Canada, has been conducting annual turf grass culls since 1984.
It’s a strategy that has helped the ACFA reduce the number of turf acres in its portfolio by about 35 per cent over the past four years.
“It has saved us money,” Stewart said.
“We are looking at an annual cull of about $300,000, so we are going to have a real reduction in the amount of turf we have to manage.
The annual cull is one of the biggest culls in Canada. “
It’s an investment in our economy, so to be able to do that, we have an investment.”
The annual cull is one of the biggest culls in Canada.
The ACFA has culled about 7,000 acres, or about one-third of the total acres in the province.
The ACFAs turf management program includes three steps.
The first is the culling of turf, which includes the removal of any grasses that are not needed for irrigation or that are considered undesirable for turf management.
The next step is the planting of a new grass at the site where turf was harvested, which can be as short as one week.
Then, the grass is cut and sent to the processing plant.
Finally, the turf is shipped to a large processing facility that converts it into a product.
In 2018, the ACFAA culled 8,500 acres of turf in its turf grass program, which involved culling between 1,000 and 2,000 hectares of turf.
The culled acres include turf grass, grasses, perennials, shrubs and shrubbery, according to ACFA.
The total annual turf cull is estimated to be $5.8 million.
The second step is crop rotation, in which turf is planted and then rotated in to produce new turf.
Each crop of turf harvested is rotated to produce more turf, Stewart said, with the average rotation rate being 20 to 25 per cent.
The average annual turf crop rotation rate for 2018 was 23 per cent, according the AC FA.
The third step is mulching, in the form of either a mulch or a synthetic mulch, that is designed to reduce the use and impact of the turf grass on the environment.
“We use mulch on a large scale, so that it is not as invasive as it would be in a smaller area, but also for a short period of time,” Stewart explained.
“Mulch will actually reduce the amount that is used by our system.
So it’s a very important step.”
The total annual mulching rate for Alberta is estimated at $8.2 million.
A year of mulching can save $500,000 in annual turf costs, according a recent report from the Alberta government.
“Mulching is a really good investment for our system,” said Stewart.
“This is really one of those areas where the government has been really encouraging the industry to get involved in the system, and to have some input.”
The first crop of mulch that the ACFIAs system will be using is from the new Alberta crop of sod that is being rolled out this fall.
The new Alberta crops will contain both native grasses and non-native grasses.
The next crop will be from the Ontario crop that is coming off the planting ramp, said Stewart, which is also known as turfgrass that is grown on a much larger scale.
Stewart said the Ontario crops will also contain native grass.
The Ontario crop, according its website, “has been a success in the past.
The turfgrass crop has been in place for a very long time, and has worked well.”
The last crop is from Ontario, which has been using the crop for over 40 years, according Tobermory.
In total, the Ontario plants have produced about 1,500 hectares of the Ontario-grown turfgrass.
The Ontario program is estimated by the ACFP to cost the province $2.6 million.
But the ACFOA estimates that the Ontario program alone will cost the government about $7.8 for each acre of turfgrass harvested.
“What we are really doing is giving people an incentive