The loss of carbon from our farmland peat soils (News, December 8) is the nettle not being grasped. For generations farmers have carefully drained these carbon rich soils, which now produce over 60% of our fresh produce. Whilst undrained pristine bog may be carbon neutral, centuries of drainage have changed this through a combination of oxidation, shrinkage and wind erosion. What happens if we re-wet these former bogs is less clear.
Work on our demonstration farm in Leicestershire suggests that temporarily waterlogged soils emit increased levels of Nitrous Oxide and Methane (also known as Marsh Gas) but to what extent does this apply to a situation like the Great Fen Project where former agricultural land is returned to nature? Until we turn our attention to this true elephant in the room, concealed I fear by the debate about those maintaining our heather clad hills by occasionally burning small bits of it, I’m afraid we will make little progress.
Andrew Gilruth, GWCT Director of Communications