Since peat soil differs from mineral soil in several respects, mineral-soil calibration functions for time domain reflectometry (TDR) are not necessarily applicable. This paper evaluates a number of calibration functions, both empirical polynomial and theoretical mixing models, on the basis of laboratory measurements on undisturbed Sphagnum peat samples. Deviations between different samples within this study indicate dissimilarities in dielectric properties between peats with different degrees of humification. Connections to physical properties such as amount of bound water and structural orientation are likely to exist. There is, however, a lack of methods to measure and quantify parameters expressing these properties. Therefore, until further studies on physical properties are accomplished, empirical or semi-empirical calibration curves are preferred. The best fit was obtained by an empirical, third order polynomial model. This model also gave a better fit than the mixing models when data were grouped into humification classes. However, all models reproduced pooled data with an r2 better than 0.93.

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