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Report2016Open access

Land use on organic soils in Sweden – a survey on the land use of organic soils within agriculture and forest lands during 1983-2014

Pahkakangas, Saila; Berglund, Örjan; Lundblad, Mattias; Karltun, Erik


Data from the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the Swedish National Forest Inventory were used in a GIS analysis to evaluate the distribution of organic soils (OS) used for agriculture and forestry in Sweden. The status of agricultural soils and agricultural land use changes were also studied, based on the most recent data available from the SGU. The total surface area of OS in Sweden was estimated to be 6 207 284 ha (15.2% of the land surface area), which is less than reported in previous assessments (Berglund and Berglund, 2008; Berglund et al., 2009). Of the total OS area 98.2% was peat, of which 4.7% was shallow peat and 2.5% 40K peat (peat determined using gamma radiation data). The remaining 1.8% were gyttja soils.
 Total agricultural area under EU regulations (i.e. on the EU agriculture block map) in Sweden was 3 232 039 ha (7.9% of the land surface area) and most of this was arable land (82.8%). Pasture occupied approx. 16% of the area, the land use on the remaining 1.2% is unknown. Agricultural area on OS (AOS) based on SGU-data and the EU agriculture block map was estimated to be 225 722 ha which is 7% of the total agricultural area based on EU agriculture block maps and 9.0% based on the national maps over agricultural land areas provided by the Swedish Board of Agriculture.
 More than 50% of AOS was arable land whereas approx. 40% was divided between pasture and unmanaged arable land. The remaining area was wetland, unknown or other land use type. In comparison to previously studies in 2003 (Berglund and Berglund, 2008) and 2008 (Berglund et al., 2009), both the total agricultural area and AOS area have decreased, probably due to structural changes in agriculture. The decline has been sharper for the surface area of AOS than for the total agricultural area.
 Among the Swedish National Forest Inventory plots, 12.3% were located on OS. Land use changes recorded on the Forest Inventory plots were mostly from arable land to other land uses rather than from other land uses to arable land both in total area and in OS. 

Published in

Rapport (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för mark och miljö)
2016, number: 21
ISBN: 978-91-576-9445-4
Publisher: SLU