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AU professor in new expert group on lowland soil extraction

On 4 September, Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Rasmus Prehn named the members of the expert group that will come up with new proposals for set-aside of peatland soils. Professor Mogens Greve from Aarhus University is part of the group that will help realise the green potential of agriculture.

Professor Mogens H. Greve is part of the new expert group on lowland land reclamation, which has just been appointed by Rasmus Prehn - Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Photo: Camilla Brodam Galacho

Danish peatland soils and their set-aside from agriculture have been a hotly debated topic. Indeed, peat soils account for more than a quarter of total agricultural emissions of climate gases. 

The high emissions come from cultivation of drained lowland soils with a high organic carbon content. The problem is that growing crops like cereals, oilseed rape and maize requires drainage and cultivation of the soil, which oxidises and decomposes the organic carbon, leading to CO2 emissions. And the high organic carbon content of lowland soils means high emissions. 

But when the soil is no longer drained, the oxygenation and thus the decomposition of the organic carbon is reduced and the emissions of climate gases are significantly reduced. When land is not drained, it can no longer be cultivated, so it is set-aside. 

Contributing to the green transformation of Danish agriculture
In addition to the lower emissions of climate gases, the set-aside of peatland soils will contribute to ensuring biodiversity and reducing nitrogen leaching. In the 'Agreement on the Green Transformation of Danish Agriculture of 4 October 2021', it was stipulated that agricultural greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 55-65 percent by 2030 compared to emissions in 1990. Among the various initiatives decided by a broad majority in Parliament was the decision to set aside 100,000 hectares of peatland. 

An expert group has therefore now been set up, with Professor Mogens H. Greve from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University, to come up with a number of recommendations on how to set aside peatland soils effectively in new and different ways.  

As a professor of pedology and digital soil mapping, Mogens H. Greve has extensive knowledge of peatland soils, and sensor-based mapping and selection of peat soils for set-aside is within his research area. 

"I am very happy to be able to contribute to this important work of sampling peat soils together with other good people," says Mogens H. Greve 

The expert group will be headed by Johannes Lundsfryd Jensen, Mayor of Middelfart Municipality, and is thus one of the initiatives from the latest agricultural agreement from autumn 2021. 

"Set-aside of peatland soils is one of the keys to realising the green transformation of Danish agriculture. But set-aside is incredibly difficult, and it requires cooperation across a lot of actors and innovative thinking to realise our ambitious goals (...) Together with Johannes Lundsfryd Jensen, we have now gathered a number of specialists who will jointly help to shake the bag and find out how we can achieve the goal even on the most difficult hectares of peatland land," says Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Rasmus Prehn. 


  • Based on figures from the three agencies (MST, NST and LBST), a total of approximately 16,300 hectares, including marginal land, have been set aside. This figure covers commitments made or projects started since 2021.
  • The expert group will work on two interim reports and is expected to come up with concrete recommendations during 2023. 3 million DKK per year from 2022 - 2024 has been allocated to the work of the expert group. The Expert Group.
  • In addition to the expert group, other initiatives have been launched to strengthen the possibilities for peatland set-aside. Set-aside consultants are being identified to advise and assist farmers. And a task force has been set up to help with the technical challenges.
  • The Danish Agricultural Agency (Landbrugsstyrelsen) has just launched the website www.udtagning.dk, which will provide answers on what peatland set-aside is, what grants are available for set-aside projects and how the government supports set-aside efforts.

Overview of the expert group:


  • Johannes Lundsfryd Jensen (Mayor of Middelfart Municipality)


  • Mogens H. Greve (Aarhus University, Department of Agroecology)
  • Jakob Vesterlund Olsen (University of Copenhagen, IFRO)
  • Jørgen Primdahl (University of Copenhagen, IGN)
  • Anne Kristine Munk Mouritsen (Land Surveyor)
  • Karen Poulsen (Nature Agency)
  • Rikke Thomle-Andersen (Danish EPA)
  • Jesper Graversen (Danish Board of Agriculture)
  • Jytte Gad Lauridsen (Director, Rebild Municipality)
  • Jesper Hansen (Limfjords Council)
  • Irene Asta Wiborg (SEGES)
  • Søren Hermansen (Energy Academy)

More information

Read more You can read more about the expert group here (in Danish)
Contact Professor Mogens H. Greve, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Tel: +45 20716734 or e-mail: greve@agro.au.dk