Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 329, Issue 1, pp 509-520

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Methane emissions in two drained peat agro-ecosystems with high and low agricultural intensity

  • Arina P. Schrier-UijlAffiliated withNature Conservation and Plant Ecology, Wageningen University Email author 
  • , Petra S. KroonAffiliated withDepartment of Air Quality and Climate Change, Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)
  • , Peter A. LeffelaarAffiliated withPlant Production Systems, Wageningen University
  • , J. C. van HuisstedenAffiliated withHydrology and Geo-Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • , Frank BerendseAffiliated withNature Conservation and Plant Ecology, Wageningen University
  • , Elmar M. VeenendaalAffiliated withNature Conservation and Plant Ecology, Wageningen University


Methane (CH4) emissions were compared for an intensively and extensively managed agricultural area on peat soils in the Netherlands to evaluate the effect of reduced management on the CH4 balance. Chamber measurements (photoacoustic methods) for CH4 were performed for a period of three years in the contributing landscape elements in the research sites. Various factors influencing CH4 emissions were evaluated and temperature of water and soil was found to be the main driver in both sites. For upscaling of CH4 fluxes to landscape scale, regression models were used which were specific for each of the contributing landforms. Ditches and bordering edges were emission hotspots and emitted together between 60% and 70% of the total terrestrial CH4 emissions. Annual terrestrial CH4 fluxes were estimated to be 203 (±48%), 162 (±60%) and 146 (±60%) kg CH4 ha−1 and 157 (±63%), 180 (±54%) and 163 (±59%) kg CH4 ha−1 in the intensively managed site and extensively managed site, for 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively. About 70% of the CH4 was emitted in the summer period. Farm based emissions caused per year an additional 257 kg CH4 ha−1 and 172 kg CH4 ha−1 for the intensively managed site and extensively managed site, respectively. To further evaluate the effect of agricultural activity on the CH4 balance, the annual CH4 fluxes of the two managed sites were also compared to the emissions of a natural peat site with no management and high ground water levels. By comparing the terrestrial and additional farm based emissions of the three sites, we finally concluded that transformation of intensively managed agricultural land to nature development will lead to an increase in terrestrial CH4 emission, but will not by definition lead to a significant increase in CH4 emission when farm based emissions are included.


Peat soils Ditches Temperature Upscaling