What are the physical and chemical requirements for sustainable and profitable agricultural production systems on shallow peat?
To answer this question, the soils researchers are seeking to understand the effect of peatland restoration practices on peat characteristics and water dynamics. Peat soil is highly heterogenic in terms of humification, vegetation type and fire history, and these factors all affect soil properties which, in turn, affect how best to restore peatland ecosystems. The physical and chemical nature of peat changes over time, and this has ramifications in terms of possible future land use, affecting suitability for conservation, mixed use or plantations.
The effects of peat fire on soil physical properties depend on a variety of variables, including the level of peat humification and the extent of fire in terms of fire frequency and intensity. Fire frequency, area, and intensity, all affect peat nutrient availability as well, such that intense fire regimes result in lower nutrient availability compared to less intense fire regimes. Such information is important when considering ways and means of restoring peatland areas affected by fire.