CANAPE: A new farm in Store Vildmose

29 June 2020 - Published by Harry Mach
For centuries peat has been an important resource, as people have drained the fens and bogs for land to produce food, and used the dried peat as a fuel. This leads to releases of CO2 from the dried peat, and a reduction in capacity of the land to store water leading to reduced protection from floods.

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emission there has been an increasing focus on rewetting peatlands. Since many peatlands are used for agricultural purposes, it is necessary to help farmers to find a way to earn an income from their rewetted peatlands.

In the Danish part of the project, paludiculture is tested on a former potato field in Store Vildmose. The test site covers four hectares and is situated next to existing raised bog. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate how a traditional cultivated area can be converted to paludiculture. We will gain knowledge on preparing traditional cultivated land for paludiculture, how to plant and sow crops adapted to wet conditions, and experience in harvest methods.

The test site is divided into 7 plots each covering 0, 35 ha. The plots are placed as shown in the header image. In plot 1 Typha seeds were sown using a long hose mounted on a rebuilt sprayer machine. The Typha plants were planted manually using a ‘Pottiputki’ – a planting tool used for planting containerized seedlings in forestry.  Plot 3 is reference plot to follow the spontaneous development of vegetation.

In plots 4-7 reed canary grass and fescue, respectively, were sown by traditional sowing machinery, since these plots are and will stay drier than the plots treated with Typha.  

Machinery working to prepare the peat surface.Machinery preparing the growing surface

Preparing the growing surface in Store Vildmose. 

Since the catchment area to the test site is small and the soil surface is quite flat, it has been necessary to install a solar powered pump to control the water level in plot1 1-3. The water level as well, the nutrient content of the of the drainage water pumped into the plots as well as the growth and conditions of the crops are monitored regularly over the next years. The first harvest will take place next summer.

It is the goal of this demonstration project to get more knowledge on the practical conversion of traditionally cultivated peatland fields to rewetted paludiculture fields and to raise the awareness of paludiculture among landowners, the agricultural advisory segment and the public in general.

These plants have potential to be used in a wide range of product, as seen by the sample below. For more information, on the uses of Typha, see our page here. 

A collection of typha products on a display table.

A range of typha products, courtesy of Wetland Products  (https://www.wetlandproducts.com/), displayed at the "Fens for the Future Conference" in the UK

The Danish CANAPE team, which includes two municipalities (Jammerbugt and Brønderslev), the Danish Nature Agency and the peat excavation company Pindstrup Mosebrug, is implementing the demonstration project. University of Aarhus and SEGES are assisting with professional knowledge and the consultant company COWI coordinates the whole demonstration project.

The private nature fund, Aage V. Jensen Nature Fund, has put the test field at our disposal. As part of an adjacent bog restoration project, the top soil on the test field has been removed and used for building up a large dam along the edge of the neighboring raised bog. The test field was therefore prepared for the demonstration site.