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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Influence of water table level and soil properties on emissions of greenhouse gases from cultivated peat soil

Berglund Örjan, Berglund Kerstin


A lysimeter method using undisturbed soil columns was used to investigate the effect of water table depth and soil properties on soil organic matter decomposition and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cultivated peat soils. The study was carried out using cultivated organic soils from two locations in Sweden: Örke, a typical cultivated fen peat with low pH and high organic matter content and Majnegården, a more uncommon fen peat type with high pH and low organic matter content. Even though carbon and nitrogen contents differ greatly between the sites, carbon and nitrogen density are quite similar. A drilling method with minimal soil disturbance was used to collect 12 undisturbed soil monoliths (50 cm high, Ø29.5 cm) per site. They were sown with ryegrass (Lolium perenne) after the original vegetation was removed. The lysimeter design allowed the introduction of water at depth so as to maintain a constant water table at either 40 cm or 80 cm below the soil surface. CO2, CH4 and N2O emissions from the lysimeters were measured weekly and complemented with incubation experiments with small undisturbed soil cores subjected to different tensions (5, 40, 80 and 600 cm water column). CO2 emissions were greater from the treatment with the high water table level (40 cm) compared with the low level (80 cm). N2O emissions peaked in springtime and CH4 emissions were very low or negative. Estimated GHG emissions during one year were between 2.70 and 3.55 kg CO2 equivalents m??2. The results from the incubation experiment were in agreement with emissions results from the lysimeter experiments. We attribute the observed differences in GHG emissions between the soils to the contrasting dry matter liability and soil physical properties. The properties of the different soil layers will determine the effect of water table regulation. Lowering the water table without exposing new layers with easily decomposable material would have a limited effect on emission rates


Peat soils; Greenhouse gas emission; Groundwater level; Agricultural soils; Lysimeter; CO(2); Organic soils

Published in

Soil Biology and Biochemistry
2011, volume: 43, number: 5, pages: 923-931
Publisher: Elsevier

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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