EGU21-8175, updated on 27 Nov 2023
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Which management option has the highest greenhouse gas reduction potential for drained peatlands?

Merit van den Berg1, Christian Fritz1, Bas van de Riet2, Stefan Weideveld1, Thomas Gremmen2, Eva van den Elzen1, Renske Vroom1, Jeroen Geurts1, and Leon Lamers1
Merit van den Berg et al.
  • 1Radboud University, Aquatic Ecology & Environmental Biology, Nijmegen, Netherlands (
  • 2B-WARE Research Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands (

Almost all peatlands in the Netherlands are drained for agricultural purposes or in the past for peat extraction. What remains is a peatland area of about 300.000 ha of which 85 % is used for agriculture. As a result of peat oxidation, these areas are still subsiding by about 1 cm per year. Another effect is the enormous emission of CO2, which contributes to about 4% of total Dutch greenhouse gas emissions. With the awareness of a changing climate and the need for protection against flooding of coastal areas, solutions are being searched to reduce or stop peat oxidation and coinciding land subsidence and CO2 emission.

In this presentation we will show different management options (subsoil irrigation, pressurized subsoil irrigation, paludiculture) which are currently being tested in the Netherlands. They will be put into perspective of data from other European studies. These options all focus on increasing the groundwater table to lower oxygen intrusion and consequently lower aerobic decomposition. Depending on crop choices, water levels may need to stay 40 cm below the surface to maximize fodder plant yields, or go to surface level to increase peat ecosystem functions like C-sequestration. The management options range from maintaining the current land-use by elevating summer water levels, with submerged drainage, to the development of peat-forming plant species by complete rewetting. Data of the effects of these management options on CO2 emission show that Sphagnum farming is the most promising mitigation option to reduce greenhouse gas emission from drained peatlands. It turned the land from a carbon and greenhouse gas source into a sink.

How to cite: van den Berg, M., Fritz, C., van de Riet, B., Weideveld, S., Gremmen, T., van den Elzen, E., Vroom, R., Geurts, J., and Lamers, L.: Which management option has the highest greenhouse gas reduction potential for drained peatlands?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8175,, 2021.