Memorial and Faculty Glade to Organic Turf Management

Berkeley’s transition of Memorial and Faculty Glade to organic turf management puts the campus at the cutting edge of a movement taking place throughout the state of California and the country. Eliminating traditional pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in favor of organic practices creates a healthier environment for students and faculty and reduces the campus’ environmental footprint. The “conventional” approach to land management, based around the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, is not as sustainable.

The organic approach we’re implementing at the Glades puts a focus on soil health and starts with a soil test. Working with national turfgrass experts at Osborne Organics, we tested not only the structure, pH, and nutrient content of the soil, but also the biological life it contains. This tells us the type of fertilizer and soil amendments we’ll need to employ to correct nutrient imbalances and foster soil life. These natural inputs are supported by cultural practices, including regular aeration, mowing high, irrigation, and overseeding with the right grass seed. By creating healthy soil, we create turf that crowds out weeds and resists pests and fungal disease. This approach will require a bit of patience, as lawns stressed by conventional products need a period of rest – including from student's feet -- during the transition. 

If you’d like to understand more about this approach, check out resources from our partners at Beyond Pesticides and Osborne Organics, including facts and figures on lawn care pesticides, how to read what weeds are telling you about the turf, and a straightforward intro to organic lawn care 101.