Marie Ferré, Adrian Muller, Jens Leifeld, Cédric Bader, Moritz Müller, Stefanie Engel, Sabine Wichmann
Based on a review of the academic and grey literature and interviews with regional experts, we find that the main challenges to a change in management practices include the profitability of the current land use, the difficult economic environment of farmers, the cultural background associated with the region, and the absence of systematic data on soil properties. We provide a comparative overview of policy options that could promote sustainable use of organic soils, and present the diverse economic, environmental, and social implications of potential future scenarios of the development on these soils, namely pursuing the current land use versus adopting peat-preserving land use. Based on a basic economic analysis, we find that considering the carbon benefits of preserving the soils, current offsetting-carbon policies cannot compensate the opportunity cost of switching land use on organic soils used for intensive vegetable farming. With the price of carbon offsetting options, only up to the half of the opportunity cost would be covered. We therefore stress the need for a long-term vision of the management decision on these soils and for eliciting society’s willingness to invest in preserving organic soils.