Cultivation of Cattail (Typha) –
pilot site ‘Teichweide’, Neukalen

The Project Paludi-PRIMA started in May 2019 to test and investigate the cultivation of cattail and reed over three years. The establishment of a Typha pilot site (~10 ha) in September 2019 was a milestone for the implementation of paludiculture. Valuable experiences on planning and permitting processes, site preparation, and planting was gained as well as on water management and stand establishment during the first vegetation period in 2020. In addition, further tests and investigations take place on the pilot site and it is available as a demonstration site for interested visitors.

General information on the cultivation of cattail can be found here.

Site conditions and land use

The pilot site is located in the river valley of the Teterower Peene. The fen peatland has a peat layer of up to 4 – 5 m thickness and is drained for agriculture. The grassland vegetation is dominated by reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), grazed by suckler cows and mown for winter fodder production. The owner (farming enterprise Voigt) provides a partial area of the polder for the project period of three years (2019-2022) to conduct the Typha cultivation trial.

Planning & Approval

  • Hydrological feasibility study as basis for the planning of construction works and permit applications.
  • Approval according to nature conservation law:
    • Mapping of breeding birds
    • Natura 2000 preliminary impact assessment
    • Exception from landscape protection area ordinance
    • Intervention compensation balancing
  • Approval according to water law (water law permit)

Site establishment

Construction work

In August and September 2019, construction work was carried out to prepare the area (~10 ha) for rising water levels. The effort was considerably high since we established “a wet island in a drained environment”.

  • Construction of “dykes” (bunds) for water retention
  • Excavation of a new ditch around the field to collect seepage water and thus prevent the waterlogging of surrounding grassland
  • Construction of an irrigation infrastructure (pump + inlet)
  • Two adjustable outlets to regulate the water level

Planting

A nursery specialised on aquatic plants raised 25,000 seedlings each of Typha latifolia and Typha angustifolia. These were delivered in mid-September 2019 and planted on an area of ca. 8 ha using two forest planting machines.

The two Typha species were each planted at two densities: 1 plant per m² and 0.5 plants per m², respectively (planting scheme 2m x 0.5 m and 2m x 1 m, respectively).

Raising the water level

Immediately after planting, flooding was carried out by pumping water from the adjacent Teterower Peene into the field.

Seeding

Testing of seeding had to be postponed due to the delayed establishment of the area (September 2019 instead of June 2019). In June 2020, seeding on the shallowly flooded site was conducted by hand as well as by drone spreading seed pellets (Typha seeds + clay).

Management

  • Water level regulation: active irrigation in spring/summer, pumping in water from the Teterower Peene river
  • Protection against geese and wild boars
  • Mowing of dykes

Stand Development

Late planting and early frost (October 2019) hampered root formation, leaving plants loose and easy to be washed out of soil with first flooding. Stand establishment was further hampered by late frost in Mai 2020 harming new shoots as well as by birds pulling out plants and eating roots. At the end of first growing season, runners (stolons) starting to close the gaps between the planting rows were observed. Remarkably dense Typha stands had developed on parts of the site due to extensive seed germination.

Harvest & Biomass Utilisation

The first harvest shall take place in winter 2021/22. Cattail biomass can be used for a wide range of applications, e.g. for high-quality construction and insulation materials.

Monitoring

By investigating stand establishment, nutrient uptake, water balance, biomass quality, and cost data, the pilot site will provide practical information on technical implementation, plant growth, and economics of cattail cultivation.

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