Calendar Events 

Mankato Schools' Organic Turfgrass Project:
FY 2006 Recipient of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)
Environmental Assistance Grant Award
(June 2006 - June 2008)

 

+ What's New - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Project Summary - NEW! 12/09/08

MPCA Final Report Photo Gallery PPT - 11/20/08

 

Project Results and Discussion - 11/20/08

+ Project Summary - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Pesticides and herbicides threaten children's health and are easily tracked indoors where children play and learn. Both parents and district staff have expressed concerns about the use of chemical herbicides on school grounds. Through a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Mankato Area Public Schools (ISD #77) will explore the benefits and effectiveness of organic lawn products on school turfgrass over a 2-year period. The natural fertilizer and herbicidal effects of the organic products will be compared to a conventional fertilizer and chemical broadleaf weed killer.

Links to Mankato Free Press "Greener Option" article photos:
FreePress- GreenerOptionArticle.html
Greener option picture-close up.jpg
West Aerial Photo-close up.jpg

"Your View -- Minnesotans should find alternatives to pesticides"

 

 


+ Learn more! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Both corn gluten meal (CGM) and dried distiller's grain (DDG) are natural fertilizers and also provide pre-emergent weed control. They both are byproducts of corn processing and are available locally. The school district will apply CGM, DDG, traditional chemical methods, and a pure control on separate test plots totaling 1.5 acres over the next 2 years. If, during the testing period, one or more of these natural products are noted to be particularly effective, the district plans to expand the test plot acreage for these products to include additional school campuses with varying landscapes, turfgrass uses, and soil types. The results of this project will be shared with other school districts and agencies statewide.


To learn more about the experimental design of the Mankato Schools' Organic Turfgrass Project, click here to view a PowerPoint presentation. This same data can also be viewed as a pdf file by clicking here. This data is new as of November 14th, 2006.


+ Get involved! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Students in grades 7-12 are eligible to become involved in the school district's research efforts. Student assistance is needed in the following areas:

• Field research (gathering weather, soil, and turfgrass data on test plots)
• Analyzing data (including charting on Excel)
• Writing a brochure
• Hosting an event
• Presenting at school board and/or public meetings
• Math/statistics

Contact Mara Natrakul (mara@hickorytech.net) for more information. A portion of the grant funds have been allotted to compensate students (ages 14 and older) for time spent on the project outside of school hours.

Parents and school district staff who are interested in the project are invited to attend an Organic Turfgrass Committee meeting. Contact Joe Meixl (jmeixl1@isd77.k12.mn.us) for more information or call (507)-345-5311.


+ The three main purposes of this project are to - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
• Assess the effectiveness of corn gluten meal (CGM) and dried distillers grain (DDG) as natural organic fertilizer and weed control alternatives;
• Evaluate the cost effectiveness of using these alternatives on a larger scale to supplement and/or replace the current use of conventional, synthetically-produced turfgrass fertilizers and herbicides, and;
• Report and distribute the findings to other interested school districts, businesses, organizations, and homeowners.
• The use of traditional experimental design and practices for field plot research along with appropriate statistical analysis of the data collected will form the basis of this evaluation.


+ The environmental benefits include - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
• Reduction of exposure to conventional pesticides;
• Protection of groundwater;
• Slowing down or prevention of surface-water runoff;
• Conservation of resources (to make use of corn-processing byproducts); and
• More sustainable turfgrass.



+ Corn Gluten Meal for Lawn Weed Control - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Corn gluten meal is a byproduct of the process used to make corn starch and corn syrup. When applied to lawns, corn gluten meal prevents normal root development of sprouting seeds. It also fertilizes the grass.

Here are points to remember:
• Crabgrass, dandelions, and other weeds can be reduced by using corn gluten meal.
• Timing of application is crucial. Follow recommendations on the package.
• After spreading it on the lawn, it's best to water it in and then let it dry out.
Use healthy lawn care practices to prevent weeds such as aerating and over-seeding, and allowing grass clippings to remain in the yard.

Corn gluten meal is available at grain elevators, animal feed stores, and some garden centers. For more information on corn gluten meal and where to buy, click on:
• U of M article, “Try Gluten Meal to Control Lawn Weeds”
“Corn Gluten Meal -- A Natural Lawn Care Herbicide” (Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides)

“CGM -- A Natural Lawn Care Herbicide” PDF article (viewable/downloadable under the PDFs & PowerPoints link on the left sidebar above)

 

 

+ Informational Files - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Want to learn and see more? Check out the files below:

Community Factsheet: ISD 77’s Organic Turfgrass Project - updated 06/11/08

Field Maintenance Program Guide

An Evaluation of Organic and Synthetic Fertilizer and Weed Control Products

Organic Turfgrass Project (powerpoint - large file)