In order to fertilize the fields, pieces of heath or grass including roots and humus ("plaggen") were cut and used as bedding for cattle. In springtime, this bedding, enriched with slurry was then spread over the fields near the village as manure. The long term practice of this form of agriculture created a rich agricultural soil to a depth of between 40 cm and over 1.50 m, unlike modern arable soils, which tend to be just 30 centimetres deep. The raised fields give rise to a typical landscape with sharp breaks in elevation and are called Plaggenesche in Germany or Es in Dutch. This form of agriculture stopped around 1900 with the introduction of fertilizers.
- "A Handbook of Soil Terminology, Correlation and Classification". Google Books.
- "Plaggen Soils: landscape history, properties, and classification". Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science. 167: 319–327. doi:10.1002/jpln.200420905.
- "2013 Soil of the Year: plaggic anthrosol". Umweltbundesamt.
- Davidson Donald A. and Stephen P. Carter. Micromorphological Evidence of Past Agricultural Practices in Cultivated Soils: The Impact of a Traditional Agricultural System on Soils in Papa Stour, Shetland. Department of Environmental Science, University of Stirling, 1997.
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