Soil information &
Surface motion monitoring


The aim of this project is to determine the historical and current peat loss. We want to find out which factors, in particular which peatland properties are decisive, besides water content and land use. In addition, we investigate how these properties have changed and whether there are soil-related restrictions for rewetting.

Historical peatland distribution and peat layer thickness

The peat archive of the Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture (LfL) contains historical information on the condition of Bavarian peat soils, e.g.  maps, soil profile and soil core descriptions in non-digital formats. Peat mapping in Bavaria has been carried out since 1900; however not continuously and according to very different aspects. All this information will be made usable through digitization and its content will be evaluated for the first time in a comprehensive way. The historical soil maps of the peat archive were scanned and georeferenced. The aim is now to vectorize all relevant information of peatland distribution, the type of peat soil and land use, as well as peat thicknesses and to make it digitally usable in a GIS database.


Historical land register map including organic soil information

Monitoring of peat loss

Recent changes in peatland soils are measured in test areas by means of a new monitoring system. For this purpose, measuring devices - essentially poles, well anchored in the geological layer beneath the peat - are installed and the height above ground is continuously measured. Since the peat surface changes due to swelling and shrinking depending on the water level, water level measurements are carried out in parallel. This means that short-term swelling and shrinking can be distinguished from long-term loss of peatland due to mineralization. In addition, the ground level elevation in selected test areas are precisely measured every year in order to obtain information on extensive changes of the peatland.

Peat properties

To determine degradation processes in drained peatlands and the consequences for rewettability, further information from the peat archive is scanned and stored in a database. This information partly includes detailed horizon descriptions with chemical and physical information, such as carbon content, pH values and degrees of degradation of the individual soil horizons. In the test areas, current soil physical and soil chemical properties of the various horizons are measured in order to determine which peat properties, in addition to the water content, might cause the change in peat soil and how these properties of the peat soil have changed.

Soil profile at the study site Karolinenfeld

vererdeter Moorboden


Team of project 3

Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture, Institute for Organic Farming, Soil and Resource Management
  • Dr. Annette Freibauer

  • Dr. Gisbert Kuhn

  • Dr. Anna Kühnel

  • Nadine Conze

  • Julian Welte

  • Jutta Kotzi

  • Thomas Machl