Publications (FIS)

Greenhouse Gas Balance of Sphagnum Farming on Highly Decomposed Peat at Former Peat Extraction Sites

authored by
Jan Oestmann, Bärbel Tiemeyer, Dominik Düvel, Amanda Grobe, Ullrich Dettmann

For two years, we quantified the exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) at two different large-scale Sphagnum farming sites. At both, peat extraction left a shallow layer of highly decomposed peat and low hydraulic conductivities. One site was characterized by preceding multi-annual inundation and irrigated by ditches, while the other one was inoculated directly after peat extraction and irrigated by ditches and drip irrigation. Further, GHG emissions from an irrigation polder and the effect of harvesting Sphagnum donor material at a near-natural reference site were determined. GHG mitigation potentials lag behind the results of less decomposed sites, although our results were also affected by the extraordinary hot and dry summer 2018. CO2 exchanges ranged between -0.6 and 2.2 t CO2-C ha−1 y−1 and were mainly influenced by low water table depths. CH4 emissions were low with the exception of plots with higher Eriophorum covers, while fluctuating water tables and poorly developing plant covers led to considerable N2O emissions at the ditch irrigation site. The removal of the upper vegetation at the near-natural site resulted in increased CH4 emissions and, on average, lowered CO2 emissions. Overall, best plant growth and lowest GHG emissions were measured at the previously inundated site. At the other site, drip irrigation provided more favourable conditions than ditch irrigation. The size of the area needed for water management (ditches, polders) strongly affected the areal GHG balances. We conclude that Sphagnum farming on highly decomposed peat is possible but requires elaborate water management.

Institute of Environmental Planning
Section Soil Chemistry
Institute of Soil Science
External Organisation(s)
Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Environmental Chemistry, Ecology
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)