Fens are organic sites that require drainage for agricultural use. Lowering the groundwater level leads to trade-offs between economic benefits and environmental impacts (i.e., CO2
and nutrient emissions). To identify management options that are both environmentally and economically sustainable, a propaedeutic systematic analysis of the costs, income and profit of different land use and management systems on fenlands is necessary. This study provides an overview of the profitability, labor demand and comparative advantages of feasible management systems on German fenlands. Twenty management practices in four land use systems are analyzed. The results indicate that most management systems are profitable only with subsidies and payments for ecosystem services. In addition to sales revenue, these payments are indispensable to promote peat-saving agricultural practices on fenlands. Regarding the labor aspect, intensive management systems caused an increase in working hours per hectare, which may positively affect employment in rural areas. The calculations obtained in this study can be used as a basis for estimations of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation costs when management systems are associated with GHG emission values.
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