Organic Soils

torfhaltiges Bodenprofil
Peat-containing drained organic soil with sediment interlayers in the Swiss Seeland.

Organic soils are important carbon sinks. In bogs and fens, they are formed by the incomplete (anaerobic) decomposition of plant matter in the waterlogged soil. The agricultural use of these soils generally  requires their drainage. Aeration of the previously waterlogged strata leads to terrain subsidence, peat decomposition, and thus to major and persistent CO2 and N2O emissions.

Our research focuses on the following aspects:



Organic Soil Surface Area

The extent of the current organic soils is estimated.


Emissions from Organic Soils

Switzerland’s organic soils have already lost a large part of their peat owing to historic land use, but still store around 32 million tonnes of carbon. Nevertheless, organic soils used for agriculture are steadily losing carbon – about 600,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent per year.


Peat Quality

The physical structure and chemical composition of peat is an indicator of whether and to what extent and how long ago a site was drained.