The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recreation Commission weighs costs of organic field care

Should Carlisle discontinue organic field maintenance to cut costs as town department budgets shrink? Recreation Commission (RecCom) Chair Mark Spears provided a brief history of field maintenance at the September 16 meeting, explaining that the town switched from traditional chemical treatments to organic-based treatments about five years ago. Organic fertilizing is more expensive and, according to Spears, less effective. While the cost of fertilizer has increased, the budget has not. Consequently, the fields have had fewer treatments over time. Both Spalding and Banta-Davis fields appear to be in fine shape now, but Spears is concerned the town cannot continue to reduce the number of applications and expect the fields to subsist. Chemical treatment is 30 to 40% less expensive according to Spears, but also requires restricting use of the fields for one to two days after applications.

The fields in Concord are treated with a combination of chemical and organic fertilizers according to Peter Flynn of Concord’s Park and Tree Division. Early spring and late fall require chemical treatments because the soil is not warm enough to properly absorb the organic fertilizer. In the late spring until fall, they use organic treatments. Flynn did mention he pays extra for slow release nitrogen because it has a lasting impact on the fields.

In response to RecCom member Jeff Bloomfield’s request for more information, Spears suggested inviting Jon Coppinger, the person in charge of fertilizing for the town, to speak at the next RecCom meeting, scheduled for late November. Spears also suggested planning an open discussion with the community. ∆

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