Paludiculture (“palus“ – lat. “mire, morass”) is the wet cultivation of marshland. On the one hand it includes traditional processes of peatland cultivation (reed mowing, litter usage), on the other hand new processes, for example the energetic utilization of biomass of the marshes, are used. In these processes the preservation of peat is always the most important/main objective. In many cases even renewal of peat (peat renewal) occurs for example in reed usage. There the biomass above ground is skimmed off and the biomass located underground accumulates new peat which is required for the renewal of peat.
Conventional land use of peatlands requires drainage, which causes several problems:
- greenhouse gas emissions,
- nutrient efflux,
- loss of biodiversity,
- soil degradation,
- increasingly impaired land use options.
What does Paludiculture offer?
- climate change mitigation (avoidance of N2O and CO2 emissions and provision of cool humid air)
- habitats for rare and threatened species
- renewable fuels and raw materials
- perspectives for agriculture and tourism.
Current agricultural practises are not adapted to peat soils. Continued agricultural use of peat soils needs large investments and many areas have been abandoned. On the other hand, biomass crop cultivation has in recent years increased pressure on marginal lands, including peatlands. This development aggravates the above mentioned problems.
Intact, ‘living’ peatlands display high genetic, species and ecosystem diversity and store enormous amounts of fresh water and carbon. Many peatlands – in Europe even most – have been drained and ameliorated. This has led to the loss of biodiversity and the release of large amounts of greenhouse gases. Rewetting these peatlands allows integration of conservation and utilisation through wet, environmentally harmless forms of peatland agriculture.
Rewetted peatlands provide additional areas for cultivating biomass for energy generation (Common Reed, Reed Canary grass). Cultivation of biofuel crops on rewetted fen peatlands has a twofold beneficial effect on climate. It will stop the release of CO2 and N2O from drained peatlands and contribute to substitution of fossil fuels. On the long run peat accumulation may even be re-installed leading to a net sequestration of carbon in the subsoil.
Each year about 30 Mio m³ of so-called white peat are used in professional horticulture globally. This non sustainable practice continues because an appropriate alternative for peat in horticulture is still lacking. Fresh peat moss biomass has similar physical and chemical properties as white peat. Cultivation of peat moss (Sphagnum farming) on rewetted bog peatlands can provide a sustainable alternative for white peat. more...
Cultivation of Black Alder
Producing valuable wood of the Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa) can be a welcome addition to the spectrum of environmentally compatible uses of fen peatlands. The crucial factor for alder forestry is a water regime just under the surface which enables a commercial wood harvest combined with peat formation and a positive climate impact. Beside the energetic uses, alder wood is a valuable material for carpentry, interior fittings, and massive wood furniture.
More information can be found in our comprehensive book on Paludiculture:
The first international conference on the utilisation of emergent wetland plants “Reed as a Renewable Resource” (RRR) took place in Greifswald (Germany) from 14th - 16th February 2013. 170 participants came together to discuss protection, restoration and utilisation wetlands for multiple ecosystem services. more...
The Paludi-Pellets-Project aims at making wet biomass from wet lands a dry energy resource. How to transform sedges, reed and canary grass into pellets and briquettes and how to use these most efficiently is subject to investigation. more...
Comparative analysis, integration and exemplary implementation of climate smart land use practices on organic soils: progressing paludicultures after centuries of peatland destruction and neglect. more...