Quantification and implications of soil losses from commercial sod production

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Commercial sod farms occupy about 1.62 × 103 km 2 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 soil depletion. © Soil Science Society of America, 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison WI 53711 USA All rights reserved.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Soil Science Society of America Journal