A joint effort involving eight departments on the Ann Arbor campus has earned the University of Michigan the state’s first Division 1 campuswide certification for reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizer.
The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program certification was presented at a ceremony earlier this month at the newly constructed U-M Golf Course clubhouse.
MTESP certification is designed to encourage strategies to prevent pollution and recognize environmentally sound management practices. The program includes sections dedicated to promoting fish and wildlife habitat, indigenous vegetation and water quality protection.
“I’m incredibly proud of our institution for being the first to achieve this certification campuswide at a Division 1 school,” says Anya Dale, sustainability representative in the Office of Campus Sustainability.
“It took a great deal of effort on the part of all associated staff, and really demonstrates the degree of dedication they each have to sustainability, land management and environmental stewardship.”
The dedicated units include the U-M Golf Course, Radrick Farms Golf Course, Grounds Services, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Recreational Sports, Athletics, and Logistics, Transportation & Parking.
“For a long time, we have approached our work with the idea of ‘leaving it better than we found it,'” says Corbin Todd, director of the U-M golf courses. “The MTESP program seemed like a great way to access expertise and knowledge in the area of environmental stewardship to help us do just that.”
The chemical reduction goal directly supports the university’s 2025 sustainability goal to protect the quality of the Huron River through stormwater-control strategies and reduce chemical applications to campus landscapes by 40 percent below 2006 levels.
“Many other efforts are underway to more directly reach our goal, including having transitioned to primarily organic fertilizer, piloting organic and other more environmentally friendly weed treatments and expanding naturalized areas,” Dale says.
Together, the use of synthetic chemicals has been reduced from 41,600 pounds in 2006 to 30,227 pounds in 2016, a 27.3 percent reduction.
Organic fertilizer now comprises an estimated 75 percent of fertilizer used by Grounds Services and 20 percent of that used by Radrick Farms and the U-M Golf Course.
“This certification has been a great way to work and connect with other areas of the university. There are really good people working here that are committed to environmental stewardship,” Todd says.
Clarification: This article has been amended from its original version to clarify that U-M is the state’s first Division 1 university to earn the award.