Peat can be used in water filtration and is sometimes utilized for the treatment of urban runoff, wastewater, and septic tank effluent. Peatlands and farming - an overview. The ash is powdery and light, except for varieties that have a high content of inorganic matter. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. When mixed together, as a product, this complexity is often compounded and chemical and physical properties can differ from mix to mix. Peat moss is excellent for making your garden more productive than ever. This includes birds, such as snipe and the skylark, which breed on peat bogs, as do many butterflies and dragonflies. Peat is used in water filtration, such as for the treatment of septic tank effluent and for urban runoff. Peat is hugely important to our planet for lots of reasons. With increased time and higher temperatures, these low-rank coals are gradually converted to subbituminous and bituminous coal and under certain conditions to anthracite. There, after slight maceration, it is pumped to a draining ground in a layer, which, after partial drying, is cut up and dried further. Some countries used dry peat like this for several centuries. So I have to ask what's peat moss used for or good for BLACK PEAT IS THE ONE THAT IS MOST USED IN NURSERIES. Hydraulic excavating can also be used, particularly in bogs that contain roots and tree trunks. Peat moss is used to improve soil texture. Bowmore, for example, grinds the peat into a gritty powder that is put on normal fire and produces the required smoke. Since it doesnt compact or break down readily, one application of peat moss lasts for several years. The transition to brown coal takes place slowly and is usually reached at depths ranging from 100 to 400 metres (approximately 330 to 1,300 feet). Ongoing research at the RHS is examining management of soil organic matter in a horticultural context. Balneotherapy. Materials such as coir, green compost, composted pine bark and wood fibre are all widely used in growing media mixes. Although some peat is used as fuel, the vast majority of it is used by gardeners. It provides the most annual energy than any other country. Peat often stains the water yellow or brown due to the leaching of tannins. Peat is a spongy substance which is an effect of incomplete decomposition of plant residues in different stages of decomposition. Because, like any fossil fuels, it is rich in carbon. In addition, peat moss acidifies the soil with helps acid loving plants such as blueberries and azaleas. NEWSLETTER; CONTACT US; FAQs It has an acid pH, so its ideal for acid loving plants, such as blueberries and camellias. Why is the UK Seeking to Ban the Use of Peat? Video of the Day Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. For plants that like a more alkaline soil, compost may be a better choice. Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia and the British Isles, have the most peatlands harvested for fuel use. Use of peat by country. Peat is a type of organic mulch that is commonly used for the triune purpose of fertilizing, retaining moisture, and prohibiting weed growth in a flower bed or garden. However, the question of how best to maintain and improve healthy garden soils remains. Peat may be cut by spade in the form of blocks, which are spread out to dry. But did you know there are two types? Peat is used for domestic heating purposes as an alternative to firewood and forms a fuel suitable for boiler firing in either briquetted or pulverized form. Read more about starting seeds easily. When dry, the blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg (0.75 to 2 pounds). Peat bogs are increasingly recognised as valuable habitats for wildlife and important stores of carbon, yet the UK horticultural industry still relies heavily on peat. Maintaining plant quality, while developing sustainable growing media, is clearly a key priority. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Peat used to be cut from the ground by hand. Using a shovel, it’s exposed into shelf-like formations. Peat bogs are increasingly recognised as valuable habitats for wildlife and important stores of carbon, yet the UK horticultural industry still relies heavily on peat. Soil care Alternatives to peat. Thirdly, peat bogs are home to a huge array of flora and fauna that thrive in such conditions. The choice of material is largely determined by: It is unlikely that all of these factors (availability, cost and effectiveness) are going to be met by any one material in any one situation. Although peat is not used widely to generate electricity as it has a low carbon content, less than 60%, it is still used for domestic heating in some places around the world. Peat is sometimes considered a “slowly renewable energy” and is classified as a “solid fossil” rather than a biomass fuel by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Whichever driver is pertinent, adapting to new growing media means revising the growers’ approach to managing plant quality. Organic matter. The use of peat in the gardening and horticulture industry has significantly reduced over recent years however new targets have been published by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs to eliminate the use of peat by 2020. Peat is the substrate that is most used in the cultivation of all types of plants . The presence of oxygen (aerobic conditions) is necessary for fungal and microbial activity that promotes decomposition, but peat is formed in waterlogged soils with little or no access to oxygen (anaerobic conditions), largely preventing the complete decomposition of organic material. I usually just plant seeds and plants in potting soil. In the 1940s peat moss found its place in horticulture, after being used for years as a fuel source. Traditionally, a variety of organic materials have been used as mulches or soil conditioners in order to improve the performance of plants - largely through improved nutrient provision and improved soil water management. Peat is also used for household cooking in some places and has been used to produce small amounts of electricity. Environmentalists, government and horticultural businesses in the UK now recognise the environmental consequences of using peat in horticulture, and the industry is turning increasingly to sustainable raw materials. Under the title of 'Project 4', a working group of industry stakeholders is attempting to balance a robust sustainability assessment with a pragmatic and cost effective approach that has been re-titled “responsibly sourced growing media”. 9.1 Introduction. However, it still only retains water at 4 times its own weight.The final product usually ends up being dark brown in color (rather than black) and with much finer particles than sphagnum. What Is Peat. Peat, fuel consisting of spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter, primarily plant material, in wetlands such as swamps, muskegs, bogs, fens, and moors. But also the modern industrial maltings, such as Port Ellen, Glen Esk and Glen Ord, use the peat more efficiently than what can be achieved with traditional kiln fires. Ongoing RHS research is examining water management in different mixes closely. Over time, peat deposits have the potential to evolve into coal. As peat is found farther inland, the use often results in a rich, sweet smoke, more reminiscent of pipe tobacco and even barbecued meat. Peat moss is a unique organic material that provides gardeners with several benefits, including absorbency, compaction prevention, a sterile planting medium, and its acidic ph.​ The most important benefit of peat moss is the material’s absorbency. effectiveness (provision of nutrients, reduction in the weed population and improved soil structure). If and when non-domestic peat is ever used, it may create some sticky new questions for the Scotch Whisky Association. Still, getting out into the rough is a great way to understand how and why peat is used in Islay whisky, for which it is an essential and defining ingredient. I bought some to start my fan palm trees in cause that's what I was told to do and I had them 10 days and there sprouting . Many garden centres refuse to sell plants in peat-based composts, but there is still a need for the use of peat to be banned totally. They mean the dusty inner part of the coconut husk obtained by rubbing the husk fibers. Most peat is used close to the bogs from which it comes. Peats may be divided into several types, including fibric, coarse hemic, hemic, fine hemic, and sapric, based on their macroscopic, microscopic, and chemical characteristics. If that tickles your fancy, the BenRiach 10-Year-Old Curiositas is the ideal introduction. The addition of organic matter to soil helps aid nutrient provision, optimizes water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change. Milled peat being utilised within power stations, whereas peat briquettes are sold domestically for heat production. The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. This includes management of water and nutrition and both remain a challenge. Many countries exploit and sell their peat resources, especially Ireland, Scotland, and Finland. reduced use of fertilisers). Peat moss is an important component of most potting soils an… It is also added to potting mixes to meet the acidity requirements of certain potted plants. RHS Garden Hyde Hall Spring and Orchid Show, Free entry to RHS members at selected Such mini gardens require plenty of base assembly for plants to grow. Although the rate of plant growth in cold regions is very slow, the rate of decomposition of organic matter is also very slow. ), 10-year experiment investigating the long-term effects of repeated application of the same organic material to soil, PhD project: “The fate of carbon from organic amendments in a horticultural system” (University of Reading, 2014 – 2017). In earlier times, people used to utilize peat moss as a fuel source. It was only till the 1940s that peat has a place in horticulture. Finally, horticulturalists are also “creatures of habit”; once they have identified a material they like, they tend to utilise it repeatedly. It is the precursor...…, For centuries hand-cut peat, or turf, was the rural population’s principal domestic fuel. Peat moss is majorly used for soil amendments and soil components. For garden use, the peat is allowed to freeze when wet to improve its water retention. Soil type It acts as a carbon store, it is a great habitat for wildlife, it has a role in water management, and preserves things well for archaeology. This way the smoke yield of the peat is increased. Traditionally, a variety of organic materials have been used as mulches or soil conditioners in order to improve the performance of plants - largely through improved nutrient provision and improved soil water management. All have different properties in terms of water retention, water distribution and nutrient provision. If however some growers use peat in plug plants to save costs then other suppliers not using peat may become 'too expensive' and be priced out of the market. This move also reflects increased societal awareness of sustainable production in general and more specifically the sustainable use of materials within horticulture itself. Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board - Sustainable resource use in horticulture: a systems approach to delivering high quality plants grown in sustainable substrates, with efficient water use and novel nutrient sources. In horticulture, peat is used to increase the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils and to increase the water infiltration rate of clay soils. Peat bogs are among the rarest and most fragile environments in the UK, and are often hundreds of years old. Updates? The peat is washed down by a high-pressure water jet, and the pulp runs to a sump. If and when non-domestic peat is ever used, it may create some sticky new questions for the Scotch Whisky Association. The development of peat is favoured by warm moist climatic conditions; however, peat can develop even in cold regions such as Siberia, Canada, and Scandinavia. Compared to coal products, peat has a much lower energy density of only 15 MJ/kg. Peat moss also absorbs and retains moisture from rainfall, providing a natural water reservoir for plants. Cost – Peat is cheap to extract and peat bogs have few other ‘productive’ uses, so it is very cost effective. In the early 21st century the top four peat producers in the world were Finland, Ireland, Belarus, and Sweden, and most of the major users of peat were these and other northern European countries. Peat Moss: Basics With increasing depth of burial and increasing temperature, peat deposits are gradually changed to lignite. Ireland. times, RHS Registered Charity no. Is … But also the modern industrial maltings, such as Port Ellen, Glen Esk and Glen Ord, use the peat more efficiently than what can be achieved with traditional kiln fires. Peat may be distinguished from lower-ranked coals on the basis of four characteristics: peats generally contain free cellulose, more than 75 percent moisture, and less than 60 percent carbon, and they can be cut with a knife. Peat bog near Enschede, Overijssel province, Netherlands. Other Natural Peat Usages . Each one has its utility, as I will tell you next. Changing the growing media - Millions of plants are grown each spring. Benefits Of Peat Moss. Some wetlands result from high groundwater levels, whereas some elevated bogs are the result of heavy rainfall. There are a number of uses for it, although the two primary ones are as a type of fuel and as a fertilizer. This way the smoke yield of the peat is increased. PhD Project: “Can we use soil microbes to help produce novel, sustainable growing media?” (Royal Holloway, 2013 – 2017), PhD Project: “Developing non-peat growing media with microbial amendment” (Royal Holloway, 2017 – 2021), Project 4 – Towards responsible sourcing and manufacture of growing media, Project 7 – Performance standard for amateur products. Coco pith, peat, coir: these are three different ways to indicate the same thing. Adding peat moss to light, sandy soils that usually drain quickly can help the soil to retain moisture longer. Peatification is influenced by several factors, including the nature of the plant material deposited, the availability of nutrients to support bacterial life, the availability of oxygen, the acidity of the peat, and temperature. Coco coir is a term widely used in the USA, while coco peat is more common in other areas of the world … Around the 1940s, people started to use peat in horticulture. Peat is usually hand-cut, although progress has been made in the excavation and spreading of peat by mechanical methods. In addition, when examining the effects of repeated organic matter application on soil chemical and physical factors more closely, it is even less likely that they will all be ideal. These are being used very successfully, though they need to be used in a slightly different way from peat-based composts. The most common use of coco peat is for starting seeds. Peat moss doesnt contain harmful microorganisms or weed seeds that you may find in poorly processed compost. Peat use for forestry and agriculture are beneficial but it alters the natural peatland hydrology. It is also used to soften aquaria water and to mimic habitats for freshwater fish. With an eye to the future, some scotch whisky stakeholders have investigated the possibility of importing peat from abroad. This peat is more a super-rich loam soil than pure organic matter. It is a great addition to seed-starting mix as it helps keep it moist, especially in summers. The natural peat has chemical compounds that are used for the treatment of the skin, since it is acidic and contains a lot of water. Organic gardening Sphagnum sp. This causes oxidation of stored carbon therefore declining its organic matter content. So far, testing has shown that Icelandic peat most closely resembles the peat in Islay. Therefore, you can use it for loose soil such as sandy soil which will help its water-holding ability. Take 5% off when you Order Now USE Code [ OFF5 ]. Although peat is not strictly a fossil fuel, its greenhouse gas emissions are comparable to that of fossil fuels. Peatlands include landscapes that are still actively accumulating peat (mires), others that are no longer accumulating and do not support the principal peat forming plants (e.g. It also helps fluff up the soil allowing roots of seedlings to grow easily. The formation of abundant peat was not possible before land plants spread widely during and after the Devonian Period (beginning approximately 419.2 million years ago). In these nations, blocks are readily available as a fuel source, and it is also … Maceration tends to yield more uniform shrinkage and a denser and tougher fuel. https://www.britannica.com/technology/peat, National Geographic - Education - Peat: The Forgotten Fossil Fuel, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Energy Use of Peat, peatland - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), peat - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 3. Investigating the effects of long-term organic matter amendments on net primary productivity and greenhouse gas emissions in a horticultural context. It is economical, maintains humidity and is the most recommended soil for most of our pots. Peat is widely used in balneotherapy (the use of bathing to treat disease). Bowmore, for example, grinds the peat into a gritty powder that is put on normal fire and produces the required smoke. Peat is used for domestic heating purposes as an alternative to firewood and forms a fuel suitable for boiler firing in either briquetted or pulverized form. the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9, Read a BBC article on our efforts to reduce gardeners' use of peat Peat energy use, both domestically and industrially, is widespread. In the meantime, distillers like BenRiach and others continue to burn peat, this time not by necessity, but choice. RHS statement on peat Moss in terrariums: Terrariums and bottle gardening means creating miniature landscape in closed glass container. Other alternatives. Similarly, peat moss is also used as medium to grow carnivorous plants. Facebook Twitter Email Instagram YouTube Pinterest WhatsApp WhatsApp Snapchat. Because it grows in thick, fertile soil, peat moss contains a range of … Peat moss is very common in gardening so it is important to understand what it is, how it works and how to use it to make your plants thrive. Join the RHS today and support our charitable work, Keep track of your plants with reminders & care tips – all to help you grow successfully, For the latest on RHS Shows in 2020 and 2021, read more, RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens, Free entry to RHS members at selected times », Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops, Our Garden Centres and online shops are packed with unique and thoughtful gifts and decorations to make your Christmas sparkle, General enquiries Here are some of the uses or benefits of peat moss: Water and nutrient retention: peat moss has the ability to hold water well. aesthetics (For many larger public gardens the aesthetics of the organic material are also of value, the impression the material creates for visitors being of great significance, particularly if used as a mulch. Farmers graze sheep and cattle on upland peatland sites which helps to protect these habitats while producing high-quality British beef and lamb. It is majorly used for planting seedlings, potting soil, transplanting plants and composting to fertilize the plants. Dried peat burns readily with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour. Peat is vegetable matter which has been partially carbonized due to the way in which it decomposes. Its energy potential per pound is no higher than wood and peat has only half the Btu value of coal. Due to a sizeable list of benefits, it is one of the most widely used … It is cut out of peat bogs in slabs, dried out, and used to warm houses and cook. Peat moss is the decomposing remains of wild mosses that grow in marshy and boggy areas. Peat moss is a stringy, fibrous substance that helps break up heavy clay soils to aerate plant root systems. Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm, Join the RHS today and support our charity. Join Peat is formed when plant material decomposes over thousands of years in wet, boggy areas of land. Peat was dried and was used as a source of fuel in some countries for centuries. Peat is only a minor contributor to the world energy supply, but large deposits occur in Canada, China, Indonesia, Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States. It also helps the soil retain water. During peat extraction, peat is drained and dried before storage or transportation for sale. Clay soils Peat has been used as a form of energy for at least 2 000 years. Today, peat moss is fairly popular used as soil amendment, soilless mix, seed starting, mushroom casting, etc. But fortunately we’re a long way from crossing that bridge. Plant material decomposes more rapidly in groundwater rich in nutrients than in elevated bogs with heavy rainfall. Peat is also used for household cooking in some places and has been used to produce small amounts of electricity. Virtually all...…. The formation of peat is the first step in the formation of coal. However, peat bogs can be found from Tierra del Fuego to Indonesia. There are many uses of peat moss, such as improving soil, starting seeds, adding it as an amendment, and more. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. ), and peatlands used for economic uses such as agriculture, forestry and excavation for energy & heat generation, horticulture and a other uses. Just like other fossil fuels, peat highly contains carbon. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Water filtration. Most gardeners recognize the value of a healthy soil in order to support a healthy garden. availability (a requirement for large volumes), cost (cheap as possible but horticulturalists also recognise cost savings elsewhere, e.g. Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. What is … The pulp is cut into blocks, which are spread to dry. 222879/SC038262. Interestingly, this variability in properties could also offer potential benefits to growers, assuming growers can adapt their management practices with water use and nutrient savings potentially feasible, in turn improving the sustainability of production. The peat that is used to produce the garden compost is mainly derived from peat bogs. Corrections? Between the several organic matters which are used as substrate for horticultural plants cultivation in soilless conditions, peat is the unabandonable ingredient for mixtures for commercial production of plants. The resulting peat brick (or briquette as they are commonly known) is a fuel that is virtually smokeless, slow-burning, and easy to store and transport. Although peat is used as a source of energy, it is not usually considered a coal. Briquettes are widely used to heat homes and business throughout the country. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Finland, Ireland, and Scotland are the biggest consumers of peat as a fuel. Given that peat harvesting is destructive to wetland habitats, its use as a soil amendment has been discouraged by conservationists. The addition of organic matter to soil helps aid nutrient provision, optimizes water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change. The intensive mining of peat has adverse effects on the climate, and destroys valuable ecosystems. Peat moss has several uses in the gardening sphere. Peat moss (Sphagnum) is one of the most common constituents of peat. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Omissions? It was useful as an alternative to firewood for cooking and heating in temperate and boreal regions of Europe, in particular Ireland, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland and the USSR. 020 3176 5800 In one mechanized method, a dredger or excavator digs the peat from the drained bog and delivers it to a macerator (a device that softens and separates a material into its component parts through soaking), which extrudes the peat pulp through a rectangular opening. The bricks are then used as fuel, mostly for heating homes and businesses.
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