Atle Hauge

Research Scientist

(+47) 916 39 892

Ås F20

Visiting address
Fredrik A. Dahls vei 20, 1430 Ås

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Peatland drainage results in several environmental impacts such as release of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere and leaching of nutrients to watercourses. These hazardous environmental effects can partly be controlled with soil management, and different drainage and remediation practices. Grading is a new method developed for soils with low conductivity suffering from poor drainage, water logging and ice. The soil surface is graded towards the ditch to increase surface runoff and drainage. The present study compares environmental effects of peatland grading compared to traditional intense pipe drainage. Detailed measurements of hydrology, climate, leaching and gas emissions were carried out at adjacent drainage areas with grass cultivation. Additional measurements were made at plots that were abandoned, cultivated with perennial crops, and remained as pristine peatlands. The results show that the leaching of nutrients is highest from pipe drainage. Climate gas emission was considerably higher at all managed sites than from the reference pristine site. Drainage, soil hydrology and soil nutrient status seemed to control gas emissions. The gas emissions were higher than assumed for Norwegian cold conditions. The results confirm observations made on peat soils in other climatic regions. The highest emissions of CO2 was observed when the soil temperature was high and groundwater table low. The N2O emission showed a large variation with no clear pattern. However, at some locations it peaked after a dry period when NO3-N was leached. More CH4 was emitted from the intensively drained site than the graded site, but more CO2 was emitted from the graded site. The difference in leaching and emission properties is partly due to differences in near surface hydrology. At grade sites, a faster runoff response to rainfall occur probably due to shallow throughfall or overland flow which provides better drainage. Also, the graded site was prepared recently, and this can have exposed fresh peat for decay. Therefore the drainage history must be well known in peatland studies as peat change in time due to drainage and cultivation. Abandoned peat field continue to leach greenhouse gases in a same way as cultivated sites.