Peer review artikel

Removing 10 cm of degraded peat mitigates unwanted effects of peatland rewetting: a mesocosm study


“Topsoil removal (TSR) is a management option performed before rewetting drained agricultural peatlands to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and remove nutrients. Currently, its common practice to remove 30 to 60 cm of topsoil, which is labor-intensive, costly, and highly disruptive. However, optimal TSR depth for mitigating carbon emissions from rewetted peat soils has neither been determined nor linked to soil biogeochemical factors driving carbon emissions. We performed two mesocosm experiments to address this. In experiment 1, we removed the topsoil of two contrasting drained peat soils before rewetting (i.e., extensively managed, acid peat and intensively managed, near-neutral peat) with a 5 cm interval up to 25 cm TSR. In experiment 2, we combined TSR with the presence and absence of Typha latifolia on intensively managed, near-neutral peat soil. The experiments ran for 22 and three months, respectively, in which we measured carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions and porewater chemistry. Our experiments reveal that (i) 5 cm TSR greatly reduced CH4 and CO2 emissions irrespective of peat nutrient status during the 22-month experiment, and (ii) the presence of T. latifolia further reduced CH4 emissions during the 3-month experiment. Specifically, CH4 emissions were six to 10-times lower with 5 cm TSR compared to 0 cm TSR. Peak CH4 emissions occurred after three months with 0 cm TSR and strongly decreased thereafter. Random forest analyses highlighted that variation in CH4 emissions could mainly be explained by cumulative root biomass and porewater alkalinity. Furthermore, 5 cm TSR reduced porewater values of pH, alkalinity, CH4, and ammonium. The effectiveness of TSR in preventing the build-up of phosphorus, iron, and sulfur in porewater was site-specific. Our results show that only 5 to 10 cm TSR may already effectively prevent the adverse effects of rewetting former agriculturally peatlands by reducing undesirable CH4 emissions and avoiding nutrient release. Further, we argue that target setting and site-specific assessments are crucial to optimize the amount of TSR to reduce carbon emissions while minimizing disturbance and costs.”

(Citation: Quadra, G.R., Boonman, C.C.F., Vroom, R.J.E. – Removing 10 cm of degraded peat mitigates unwanted effects of peatland rewetting: a mesocosm study. Biogeochemistry (2023) – DOI: 10.1007/s10533-022-01007-6)

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