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Completed project

An environmental assessment of the Australian turf industry (TU16000)

Key research provider: Infotech Research
Publication date: Tuesday, February 4, 2020

What’s it all about?

This project, which ran from 2016 to 2019, benchmarked the turf industry’s environmental performance and established a lifecycle assessment of turf through its installation. By improving knowledge of environmental impacts through this project, the industry is better equipped to plan and adapt operations to reduce them and provide improved sustainability outcomes. This information can be used by growers to strengthen their environmental performance and provide carbon footprint and environmental product declarations to the market.

The project team began by conducting investigations with participating turf growers to develop an environmental assessment of turf production in Australia. The study scope was extended in February 2017 to provide a lifecycle assessment for the turf industry.

The project team assessed 30 turf growing sites around Australia and produced environmental benchmarks to assist industry. A benchmarking report was produced, which can be used by growers outside the study to undertake their own measurements and make comparisons.

The lifecycle assessment involved a review of five turf installation sites over one year. It showed that a well-maintained patch of turf is environmentally healthy, conserves natural ecosystems and will continue to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the growth of soil organic matter.

The project produced an industry standard EPD in line with global independently assessed standard ISO 14025. Once it is independently verified by a suitably qualified person under the ISO process, the EPD can be used by the industry to declare its environmental performance credentials to its customers, who increasingly want to know that they are buying environmentally conservative products.

Together, the lifecycle assessment and environmental product declaration (EPD) will assist growers and industry to explain the environmental benefits of turf.  

Four case studies were produced as examples of good industry practice. They cover key environmental issues such as energy and water efficiency, mitigating impacts with safe waste disposal, appropriate environmental controls and Greenhouse impacts of turf growing.

The project made the following key recommendations for the industry:

  1. The turfgrass industry can promote its action against climate change
  2. Turf growers can be good environmental custodians
  3. The turf product has no end-of-life waste disposal problems
  4. Recovering run-off and avoiding losses of chemicals used are necessary environmental controls for turf growers
  5. Growers can continuously improve their performance with measurement and goal setting
  6. Efficiency of turf growing equals care for the environment (‘less is more’)
  7. Continued benchmarking to help the whole industry. The turf industry can establish a set of core environmental performance benchmarks and monitor these for the benefit of all growers and the community at large.


The project produced the following outputs, for use by industry:

The final Lifecycle Assessment Report, providing an assessment of turf through its installation

The Benchmarking Report includes information on efficiency, environmental risks and farm conditions.

Fact sheets to share case studies on best industry practice:

The project’s Goal and Scope Report contains details of the measurements and calculations made by the team.

Related levy funds

978 0 7341 4538 3

Funding statement:
This project was funded through the Hort Innovation Turf Fund using the turf R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2020. The Final Research Report (in part or as a whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation, except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).