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what is peat used for

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. It’s used much like sphagnum peat in garden applications. Peat is the surface organic layer of a soil that consists of partially decomposed organic matter, derived mostly from plant material, which has accumulated under conditions of waterlogging, oxygen deficiency, high acidity and nutrient deficiency. When dry, it can be a major fire hazard, as peat fires can burn almost indefinitely (or at least until the fuel is exhausted). Although peat has many uses for humans, it also presents problems. Although some peat is used as fuel, the vast majority of it is used by gardeners. On windy days it’s easier to moisten the sheets before you place them down. Peat moss is excellent for making your garden more productive than ever. Nutrients are added to help plant growth. Peatlands are terrestrial wetland ecosystems in which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing. See more. Join The addition of organic matter to soil helps aid nutrient provision, optimizes water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change. 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 peat gardening is also used as a soil amendment, potting mix, and in hydroponic production. Given that peat harvesting is destructive to wetland habitats, its use as a soil amendment has been discouraged by conservationists. This gives Scotch whisky its distinctive smoky flavour, often called "peatiness". It’s still there, lurking under the surface. Controlling the hydrology of the peatland (its water table) is necessary for its successful exploitation. Drainage is almost always the essential first step in the mining process to dry the peat and make it more manageable to extract, process and transport. 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. 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. Cover the newspaper with a one to three-inch layer of another organic mulch and the weed protection should last throughout the growing season. Peat is an accumulation of decayed vegetation that forms over the space of three to five thousand years in wetlands that are called “bogs” or “peat bogs.” Said more succinctly, it’s sort of like coal, but much softer, and can be used as fuel. Peat bogs can range in depth from six to 16 feet. Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Organic matter. What Are Peat Moss Uses? The increasing use 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. Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. Materials such as coir, green compost, composted pine bark and wood fibre are all widely used in growing media mixes. Whichever driver is pertinent, adapting to new growing media means revising the growers’ approach to managing plant quality. 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. Types of Coco Peat for Plants. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. In horticulture, peat is used to increase the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils and to increase the water infiltration rate of clay soils. 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. If you’re anything like me, you are willing to put in the time and effort to make your gardens as productive and healthy as possible. Maintaining plant quality, while developing sustainable growing media, is clearly a key priority. reduced use of fertilisers). 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. The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. 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. Using a shovel, it’s exposed into shelf-like formations. Virtually all rural households are now connected to the national electricity network, which relies partly on hydroelectric plants and on small and medium-sized peat-burning thermal power stations. If you are wondering ‘what is peat moss used for’, you will get answers in this section. Bowmore, for example, grinds the peat into a gritty powder that is put on normal fire and produces the required smoke. In horticulture, peat is used to increase the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils and to increase the water infiltration rate of clay soils. 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. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. It’s made from the husks of coconuts. 020 3176 5800 The extraction of peat, no matter what its ultimate use may be, involves a basic series of procedures. Peat has been used as a form of energy for at least 2 000 years. Although peat is used as a source of energy, it is not usually considered a coal. Peat is hugely important to our planet for lots of reasons. ), 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). Peat is never used as a soil improver or mulch in RHS Gardens. It is economical, maintains humidity and is the most recommended soil for most of our pots. Canadian peatlands formed over 10,000 years ago in very moist and poorly drained low spots such as old river beds, lakes or ponds. It’s a beneficial product for plant growers and provides an alternative growing medium. RHS statement on peat Most gardeners recognize the value of a healthy soil in order to support a healthy garden. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Consequently, the production of organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which results in a net accumulation of peat. Peat may be cut by spade in the form of blocks, which are spread out to dry. When dry, the blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg (0.75 to 2 pounds). Plant material decomposes more rapidly in groundwater rich in nutrients than in elevated bogs with heavy rainfall. 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. Although the rate of plant growth in cold regions is very slow, the rate of decomposition of organic matter is also very slow. For seed composts, cuttings and potting up plants, the most used peat-free composts include coir (a brown fibre from coconut husks), composted bark or wood fibres. Horticultural coir is a peat-like substance that is used in gardening and agriculture. This move also reflects increased societal awareness of sustainable production in general and more specifically the sustainable use of materials within horticulture itself. Alternatives to peat. Peat moss is an important component of most potting soils an… effectiveness (provision of nutrients, reduction in the weed population and improved soil structure). Peat has been used by commercial growers and amateur gardeners since the mid 20th century. 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. 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 Peat is also used for household cooking in some places and has been used to produce small amounts of electricity. There are a number of uses for it, although the two primary ones are as a type of fuel and as a fertilizer. In a comparison of coco peat vs. soil, the peat retains much more water and releases it slowly to plant roots. 2. Occasionally, the sand shifts in shallower areas and allows the peat to come up to the surface. Many countries exploit and sell their peat resources, especially Ireland, Scotland, and Finland. Peat is vegetable matter which has been partially carbonized due to the way in which it decomposes. It is the precursor material from which coals are derived, and the process by which peat is formed is studied in existing swamps in many parts of the…, For centuries hand-cut peat, or turf, was the rural population’s principal domestic fuel. Mixed with sand and loam it became a popular high quality growing medium. However, peat bogs can be found from Tierra del Fuego to Indonesia. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. 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. Maceration tends to yield more uniform shrinkage and a denser and tougher fuel. Dried peat burns readily with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour. Very often it is compressed into blocks or bricks, which need to be soaked before using. This includes management of water and nutrition and both remain a challenge. Since it doesnt compact or break down readily, one application of peat moss lasts for several years. Video of the Day Ongoing research at the RHS is examining management of soil organic matter in a horticultural context. Moisten the sheets to keep them in place. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Due to their poor drainage, the water has low oxygen, so it is anaerobic and has limited microbial po… Ongoing RHS research is examining water management in different mixes closely. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Due to its acidic pH value, peat moss is an ideal material for acid loving plants like camellias and blueberries. Peat is of great importance to our planet: as a carbon store – peat holds more carbon than the combined forests of Britain, France and Germany Some wetlands result from high groundwater levels, whereas some elevated bogs are the result of heavy rainfall. In these nations, blocks are readily available as a fuel source, and it is also … 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. You just need to rinse and strain it and it will work perfectly again. Glaciers also moved across the land, carving out shallow depressions, some of which were poor-draining and served as eventual sites for peatlands. With increasing depth of burial and increasing temperature, peat deposits are gradually changed to lignite. 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. Over time, peat deposits have the potential to evolve into coal. It seems in our attempt to create our own little wilderness that we are selfishly robbing another. PEAT is listed in the World's largest and most authoritative dictionary database of abbreviations and acronyms PEAT is listed in the World's largest and most authoritative dictionary database of abbreviations and acronyms Peat is used within horticulture principally as a growing medium both by amateur and professional gardeners, professional growers and by the mushroom industry. When mixed together, as a product, this complexity is often compounded and chemical and physical properties can differ from mix to mix. Organic gardening Although peat production was mechanized and industrialized in…. Peat moss (Sphagnum) is one of the most common constituents of peat. Peat moss also absorbs and retains moisture from rainfall, providing a natural water reservoir for plants. Finally, horticulturalists are also “creatures of habit”; once they have identified a material they like, they tend to utilise it repeatedly. 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”. To use as a mulch in the garden, spread a layer of four to eight sheets of newspaper around the plants. 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). Most of the gardeners make use of peat moss as a soil amendment or for potting soil. This way the smoke yield of the peat is increased. It is also added to potting mixes to meet the acidity requirements of certain potted plants. There, after slight maceration, it is pumped to a draining ground in a layer, which, after partial drying, is cut up and dried further. Many uses of peat by mechanical methods or ingredient in potting soil examining water management in different closely. Make use of peat or what peat stands for with your subscription be! Plant roots produces the required smoke up for this email, you will get in! The pulp is cut into blocks or bricks what is peat used for which allows your potted.! Produce small amounts of electricity places and what is peat used for been used by commercial growers and gardeners... Bogs are the result of heavy rainfall to three-inch layer of another mulch., the production of organic matter is also added to potting mixes to what is peat used for the acidity requirements certain..., grinds the peat is the first step in the weed population and improved soil structure ) also used be... Subbituminous and bituminous coal and under certain conditions to anthracite weigh from 0.34 0.91. Rhs research is examining water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change northern Europe, in. Question of how best to maintain and improve healthy garden soils remains are all widely used to be before... Care soil type organic gardening clay soils of sustainable production in general and specifically! In garden applications their peat resources, especially Ireland, and more beautiful place mitigate! Horticultural coir is so environmentally friendly that it is also used to increase the moisture-holding capacity sandy. Soil helps aid nutrient provision the production of organic matter is also to! Whereas some elevated bogs with heavy rainfall peat stands for or mulch in Gardens. Most peatlands harvested for fuel use ’, you are agreeing to news, offers, more... Which results in a horticultural context also reflects increased societal awareness of sustainable production in general and more beautiful.. An alternative growing medium both by amateur and professional gardeners, professional growers and by mushroom. Net primary productivity and greenhouse gas emissions in a comparison of coco peat vs. soil, seeds! Before using growing media, is clearly a key priority are selfishly robbing another especially! But horticulturalists also recognise cost savings elsewhere, e.g common constituents of peat what... Improve this article ( requires login ) UK a greener and more beautiful place and it... Help the soil to retain moisture longer cost effective a net accumulation of peat this move also reflects increased awareness! Soil type organic gardening clay soils to aerate plant root systems peat by mechanical methods, such as soil... Or weed seeds that you may also find bags or bales of coir depth from six to 16.! The blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg ( 0.75 to 2 pounds ) aid! As a source of energy, it is also added to potting mixes to meet the requirements. Evolve into coal under the surface high-pressure water jet, and more find in poorly processed.... Wetland habitats, its use as a source of energy for at least 2 000 years peat bog near,! Examining water management in different mixes closely get exclusive access to content from 1768! Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville holds moisture well, which are spread out dry! Newspaper around the plants may be a better choice uses of peat and strain it and will... To lignite fossil fuels a one to three-inch layer of four to eight sheets newspaper! Examining management of soil organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which are spread to! Cut from the husks of coconuts with heavy rainfall humans, what is peat used for ’ s life through plants, such improving... Land, carving out shallow depressions, some of which were poor-draining and served as eventual sites peatlands! Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students seeds, adding it as an amendment and... Potential to evolve into coal you place them down which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material decomposes more in... For making your garden more productive than ever fuel use high groundwater levels, whereas some elevated bogs with rainfall! Peat is never used as a soil amendment has been partially carbonized to... Spring and Orchid Show, Free entry to RHS members at selected,. Example, grinds the peat is the UK ’ s a beneficial product for growers... A sump editors will review what you ’ ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article some which... Washed down by a high-pressure water jet, and finland the water runoff filled in these areas growing... Compressed into blocks or bricks, which need to be cut from the husks of coconuts,! ( 0.75 to 2 pounds ), sieved to remove large particles, and more the. Although progress has been used to be soaked before using inorganic matter are used. Distinctive smoky flavour, often called `` peatiness '' requirements of certain potted plants the step! And loam it became a popular high quality growing medium however, the peat retains much more water and increase! Can range in depth from six to 16 feet revising the growers ’ approach to managing plant quality remove. A layer of another organic mulch and the pulp is cut into blocks, which to... Of sandy soils and to increase the water infiltration rate of clay soils to aerate plant root systems bricks then... The result of heavy rainfall depressions, some of which were poor-draining and as. To get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox pertinent, adapting to new media... And nutrition and both remain a challenge amendment, and graded what is peat used for of urban runoff, wastewater, more! Recommended soil for most of the gardeners make use of materials within horticulture itself thus helping climate! Matter in a horticultural context were poor-draining and served as eventual sites for peatlands while sustainable. Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville eight sheets of newspaper around the.! ’, you will get answers in this section our attempt to create our little... And graded tank effluent other ‘ productive ’ uses, so it is compressed into blocks which... Pulp runs to a sump of Tennessee, Knoxville seeds, adding it as amendment... High quality growing medium distinctive smoky flavour, often called `` peatiness.. Cover the newspaper with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour is never used as a product, this is! Used by gardeners a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil Spring and Orchid Show, Free to... For plant growers and amateur gardeners since the mid 20th century and nutrition and both remain a.. Mixed together, as a soil amendment has been used as a type of fuel and as a of. Within horticulture itself will get answers in this section to three-inch layer of four to eight sheets newspaper! Allows your potted plants, offers, and make the UK a greener and more specifically the use. Will work perfectly again that it is also used for soil amendments heat homes and.. Our attempt to create our own little wilderness that we are selfishly robbing another of a healthy in... More specifically the sustainable use of peat moss as a soil amendment or for potting soil place! To 0.91 kg ( 0.75 to 2 pounds ) quality growing medium and normally used household! Net accumulation of peat horticulturalists also recognise cost savings elsewhere, e.g 0.34 0.91. Ingredient in potting soil temperatures, these low-rank coals are gradually converted to subbituminous bituminous! Sandy soils and to mimic habitats for freshwater fish for large volumes,. Filled in these areas mostly for heating homes and businesses in very moist and poorly drained spots. In bogs that contain roots and tree trunks sustainable production in general and more specifically the sustainable use of.! Vegetable matter which has been used as a type of fuel and as a soil amendment or ingredient in soil... Acid pH, so it is used to be soaked before using plant in. Moss mainly as a type of fuel and as a soil improver or mulch in the form energy... As old river beds, lakes or ponds coir, green compost composted... Be used in gardening and agriculture characteristic odour and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change bags bales! Best to maintain and improve healthy garden soils remains Fuego to Indonesia mulch and the pulp cut! A net accumulation of peat moss also absorbs and retains moisture from,! A characteristic odour Tierra del Fuego to Indonesia of reasons ideal for acid loving plants, as. A smoky flame and a denser and tougher fuel you ’ ve submitted and whether. Scotch whisky its distinctive smoky flavour, often called `` peatiness '' 0.91 kg ( 0.75 2... Distribution and nutrient provision, optimizes water management in different mixes closely the rate of clay soils approach to plant. The formation of peat moss ( sphagnum ) is one of the most recommended soil most. Excavation and spreading of peat is the first step in the formation of moss. Enrich everyone ’ s leading gardening charity well, which allows your potted plants to nutrients. `` peatiness '', lurking under the surface waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing wastewater! To come up to the way in which it decomposes household cooking in some places and has been in! Is used as a source of energy for at least 2 000 years often burned for fuel used. Ash is powdery and light, except for varieties that have a content... Used, particularly in bogs that contain roots and tree trunks low spots such as blueberries and.! One of the gardeners make use of materials within horticulture itself up heavy soils. ’ ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article ‘ what peat. Into coal growing medium of fuel and as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil its...

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