Adaptive Management

Shifting management of drained peatlands under intensive productive use to deliver wetter ways of farming


Image © Clifton Bain

Adaptive Management

Some existing land uses currently rely on maintaining drainage of peatlands. Resulting negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts can be reduced by providing new products that thrive on wet peatland soils, minimising the need for drainage. This represents an opportunity to maintain farming livelihoods and generate new enterprises within UK agriculture.

The UK Peatland Strategy highlights the following objectives for adaptive management of peatlands:  

  • Improve farming practices on peat soil to slow the loss of soil carbon by encouraging:
    • Partial conversion of ploughed land to grass conversion e.g. buffer strips, field corner management etc.
    • Other practices to reduce soil and soil carbon loss in the absence of re-wetting
    • Water management to encourage higher water levels within the peat soils.
  • Develop and introduce wetland agriculture systems to the UK:
    • Trial new systems for and new ways of working that can reduce the carbon impact of agricultural practices on peat soils. This will include the trial and development of novel crops.
    • Look to new markets for products from sustainably managed peatlands and develop alternative products where the use of peatland is unsustainable. In doing this, ensure that the burden of any impacts is not exported to other countries.

To achieve the following outcomes:

  • The impact of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural use of peat is reduced through a shift to better farming
  • The distribution and extent of agricultural peat soils across the UK is maintained through the introduction of new soil management regimes and cropping systems.

The milestones to help monitor progress against these outcomes are:

2020 - Vision agreed for agricultural soils.
2030 - Early opportunities are being delivered for agricultural peat soils to bring them under sustainable
management regimes.
2040 - Vision for agricultural peat soils is delivered.
 

Scientist taking scientific measurements in peatland. Credit Emma Hinchliffe
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