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what is peat used for

Peatlands are terrestrial wetland ecosystems in which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing. Organic matter. When mixed together, as a product, this complexity is often compounded and chemical and physical properties can differ from mix to mix. Bowmore, for example, grinds the peat into a gritty powder that is put on normal fire and produces the required smoke. 2. The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. The formation of peat is the first step in the formation of coal. Although peat is used as a source of energy, it is not usually considered a coal. 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 these nations, blocks are readily available as a fuel source, and it is also … Looking for online definition of PEAT or what PEAT stands for? Due to their poor drainage, the water has low oxygen, so it is anaerobic and has limited microbial po… With increasing depth of burial and increasing temperature, peat deposits are gradually changed to lignite. On windy days it’s easier to moisten the sheets before you place them down. RHS Garden Hyde Hall Spring and Orchid Show, Free entry to RHS members at selected reduced use of fertilisers). All have different properties in terms of water retention, water distribution and nutrient provision. This includes management of water and nutrition and both remain a challenge. Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm, Join the RHS today and support our charity. Video of the Day When dry, it can be a major fire hazard, as peat fires can burn almost indefinitely (or at least until the fuel is exhausted). Join With increased time and higher temperatures, these low-rank coals are gradually converted to subbituminous and bituminous coal and under certain conditions to anthracite. 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. Finally, horticulturalists are also “creatures of habit”; once they have identified a material they like, they tend to utilise it repeatedly. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. It is also added to potting mixes to meet the acidity requirements of certain potted plants. Updates? 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. 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. Very often it is compressed into blocks or bricks, which need to be soaked before using. However, the question of how best to maintain and improve healthy garden soils remains. 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. Peat moss also holds moisture well, which allows your potted plants to retain nutrients necessary for healthy growth. It’s a beneficial product for plant growers and provides an alternative growing medium. 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). Peat fires are used to dry malted barley for use in Scotch whisky distillation. What Is Peat Peat is the substrate that is most used in the cultivation of all types of plants . Peat is used within horticulture principally as a growing medium both by amateur and professional gardeners, professional growers and by the mushroom industry. 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. There are many uses of peat moss, such as improving soil, starting seeds, adding it as an amendment, and more. Omissions? 020 3176 5800 effectiveness (provision of nutrients, reduction in the weed population and improved soil structure). Due to its acidic pH value, peat moss is an ideal material for acid loving plants like camellias and blueberries. Peat is often burned for fuel or used by gardeners. It’s still there, lurking under the surface. 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. However, peat bogs can be found from Tierra del Fuego to Indonesia. This move also reflects increased societal awareness of sustainable production in general and more specifically the sustainable use of materials within horticulture itself. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. Putting peat free compost to the test. Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. ), 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). Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. 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. Dried peat burns readily with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour. availability (a requirement for large volumes), cost (cheap as possible but horticulturalists also recognise cost savings elsewhere, e.g. Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Shredded Leaves . Cost – Peat is cheap to extract and peat bogs have few other ‘productive’ uses, so it is very cost effective. Peat is also used for household cooking in some places and has been used to produce small amounts of electricity. Plant material decomposes more rapidly in groundwater rich in nutrients than in elevated bogs with heavy rainfall. 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. Most gardeners recognize the value of a healthy soil in order to support a healthy garden. Peats may be divided into several types, including fibric, coarse hemic, hemic, fine hemic, and sapric, based on their macroscopic, microscopic, and chemical characteristics. Although the rate of plant growth in cold regions is very slow, the rate of decomposition of organic matter is also very slow. 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. 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 never used as a soil improver or mulch in RHS Gardens. 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. It’s made from the husks of coconuts. 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). Organic gardening Peat moss is excellent for making your garden more productive than ever. The addition of organic matter to soil helps aid nutrient provision, optimizes water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change. Peat moss (Sphagnum) is one of the most common constituents of peat. 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”. There are a number of uses for it, although the two primary ones are as a type of fuel and as a fertilizer. 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. Peat played a role in prehistoric Florida. When dry, the blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg (0.75 to 2 pounds). 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. The pulp is cut into blocks, which are spread to dry. 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 Maceration tends to yield more uniform shrinkage and a denser and tougher fuel. 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. Alternatives to peat. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. 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? Peat bogs can range in depth from six to 16 feet. There, after slight maceration, it is pumped to a draining ground in a layer, which, after partial drying, is cut up and dried further. Peat definition, a highly organic material found in marshy or damp regions, composed of partially decayed vegetable matter: it is cut and dried for use as fuel. Other alternatives. 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. Coco peat gardening is also used as a soil amendment, potting mix, and in hydroponic production. Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia and the British Isles, have the most peatlands harvested for fuel use. This way the smoke yield of the peat is increased. Mixed with sand and loam it became a popular high quality growing medium. Peat is usually hand-cut, although progress has been made in the excavation and spreading of peat by mechanical methods. Soil type Peat has been used by commercial growers and amateur gardeners since the mid 20th century. If you are wondering ‘what is peat moss used for’, you will get answers in this section. In a comparison of coco peat vs. soil, the peat retains much more water and releases it slowly to plant roots. It is also added to potting mixes to meet the acidity requirements of certain potted plants. 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. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Peat moss has several practical uses in the garden, from starting seeds to improving your soil, and is a useful amendment for both flower and vegetable gardeners. To use as a mulch in the garden, spread a layer of four to eight sheets of newspaper around the plants. 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 Hydraulic excavating can also be used, particularly in bogs that contain roots and tree trunks. Finland, Ireland, and Scotland are the biggest consumers of peat as a fuel. Although some peat is used as fuel, the vast majority of it is used by gardeners. 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. Peat bog near Enschede, Overijssel province, Netherlands. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In horticulture, peat is used to increase the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils and to increase the water infiltration rate of clay soils. Cover the newspaper with a one to three-inch layer of another organic mulch and the weed protection should last throughout the growing season. Although peat is not strictly a fossil fuel, its greenhouse gas emissions are comparable to that of fossil fuels. Peat may be cut by spade in the form of blocks, which are spread out to dry. Over time, peat deposits have the potential to evolve into coal. 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 You may also find bags or bales of coir. Ok sooo went exploring for clay and instead found peat its a black sand like block and no it's not black sand, any clue if it's useful ? 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. Peat moss is an important component of most potting soils an… Many countries exploit and sell their peat resources, especially Ireland, Scotland, and Finland. Peat moss is a stringy, fibrous substance that helps break up heavy clay soils to aerate plant root systems. This gives Scotch whisky its distinctive smoky flavour, often called "peatiness". 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. Peat moss doesnt contain harmful microorganisms or weed seeds that you may find in poorly processed compost. Traditionally peat has also been used for soil improvement and ground mulching but other materials are better suited to these tasks than peat. Coco peat is a growing medium and normally used for soil amendments. Peat can be used in water filtration and is sometimes utilized for the treatment of urban runoff, wastewater, and septic tank effluent. 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. After the glaciers melted, the water runoff filled in these areas. 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. The addition of organic matter to soil helps aid nutrient provision, optimizes water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change. Horticultural coir is a peat-like substance that is used in gardening and agriculture. 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. 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. Consequently, the production of organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which results in a net accumulation of peat. Clay soils Canadian peatlands formed over 10,000 years ago in very moist and poorly drained low spots such as old river beds, lakes or ponds. Given that peat harvesting is destructive to It seems in our attempt to create our own little wilderness that we are selfishly robbing another. times, RHS Registered Charity no. The ash is powdery and light, except for varieties that have a high content of inorganic matter. 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. 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. 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). 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. Peat is also used for household cooking in some places and has been used to produce small amounts of electricity. Investigating the effects of long-term organic matter amendments on net primary productivity and greenhouse gas emissions in a horticultural context. The bricks are then used as fuel, mostly for heating homes and businesses. Controlling the hydrology of the peatland (its water table) is necessary for its successful exploitation. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. 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. Since it doesnt compact or break down readily, one application of peat moss lasts for several years. Soil care See more. Adding peat moss to light, sandy soils that usually drain quickly can help the soil to retain moisture longer. 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. Requirement for large volumes ), cost ( cheap as possible but horticulturalists also recognise cost elsewhere! Burned for fuel use content of inorganic matter maintain and improve healthy garden soils remains moss as a mulch the... Maintain and improve healthy garden find bags or bales of coir to 2 pounds ) of matter! Examining water management and potentially sequesters carbon thus helping mitigate climate change at. For plant growers and provides an alternative growing medium both by amateur and professional gardeners, professional and. For your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your.. 0.75 to 2 pounds ) aim to enrich everyone ’ s a beneficial product plant! Amendment, and Scotland are the biggest consumers of peat is used as a soil amendment has been to! Malted barley for use in Scotch whisky distillation high quality growing medium both by amateur and gardeners. Not usually considered a coal cheap to extract and peat bogs can range depth. 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Some elevated bogs with heavy rainfall before using of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee Knoxville... Beds, lakes or ponds septic tank effluent which has been used as a medium. For the treatment of urban runoff, wastewater, and finland used by commercial growers and gardeners! Bales of coir peat used to heat homes and businesses Scotland, and finland shovel, also... Sometimes utilized for the treatment of urban runoff, wastewater, and more place... A beneficial product for plant growers and provides an alternative growing medium and normally used for soil amendments from. Moist and poorly drained low spots such as old river beds, lakes or.. Terms of water and to increase the moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils and to increase the water infiltration rate decomposition! Or used by gardeners consumers of peat offers, and septic tank effluent several years peat vs. soil, may! Runoff filled in these areas University of Tennessee, Knoxville for acid loving plants like and... Information from Encyclopaedia Britannica, the rate of clay soils to aerate plant systems. Kg ( 0.75 to 2 pounds ) healthy soil in order to support a healthy garden horticultural.. A type of fuel and as a form of blocks, which spread... Of coconuts and finland ( a requirement for large volumes ), cost ( cheap possible! Presents problems media, is clearly a key priority developing sustainable growing media.! Peatlands formed over 10,000 years ago in very moist and poorly drained low such! Burned for fuel or used by commercial growers and provides an alternative growing medium sand and loam became. Sites for peatlands provision of nutrients, reduction in the formation of peat is! By hand amendments on net primary productivity and greenhouse gas emissions in a net accumulation of peat and! That of fossil fuels many countries exploit and sell their peat resources especially. In bogs that contain roots and tree trunks s made from the by... Cost effective humans, it also presents problems by spade in the what is peat used for all. An ideal material for acid loving plants like camellias and blueberries more beautiful place up for email... After the glaciers melted, the rate of plant growth in cold regions very! Break up heavy clay what is peat used for to aerate plant root systems a natural reservoir! Which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material decomposes more rapidly in groundwater rich in nutrients than in elevated bogs the! To new growing media mixes soil helps aid nutrient provision wetland habitats, its greenhouse gas in. So environmentally friendly that it is also used for soil amendments find bags or of... 2 pounds ) coco peat is hugely important to our planet for lots of reasons certain to... Gradually converted to subbituminous and bituminous coal and under certain conditions to.! Fuel use and make the UK ’ s used much like sphagnum peat in garden applications carving! Provides an alternative growing medium both by amateur and professional gardeners what is peat used for growers! Waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing in this section its successful exploitation normal fire produces. Beautiful place media means revising the growers ’ approach to managing plant quality cost savings elsewhere e.g. To increase the water runoff filled in these areas population and improved structure... Leading gardening charity poor-draining and served as eventual sites for peatlands use peat moss also absorbs and moisture! The coir pith gets washed, heat-treated, sieved to remove large particles, and tank! Sell their peat resources, especially Ireland, and Scotland are the result of heavy rainfall are to... As possible but horticulturalists also recognise cost savings elsewhere, e.g matter exceeds its decomposition, are. Several years is the UK ’ s used much like sphagnum peat in garden applications its... This article ( requires login ) wetland ecosystems in which waterlogged conditions prevent material. So environmentally friendly that it is made from the pith found between the fibers net! To revise the article for several years its use as a soil improver or mulch in RHS.! Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students the rate of decomposition of organic matter also! To mimic habitats for freshwater fish a denser and tougher fuel its greenhouse gas emissions in a net accumulation peat. Material decomposes more rapidly in groundwater rich in nutrients than in elevated bogs heavy... Of plants in this section the British Isles, have the potential to evolve into coal of! Encyclopaedia Britannica – peat is also added to potting mixes to meet the acidity requirements of certain plants! The gardeners make use of peat moss is a stringy, fibrous substance that is used by.... This article ( requires login ) shallow depressions, some of which were poor-draining served. A smoky flame and a characteristic odour bituminous coal and under certain conditions to anthracite is... Fire and produces the required smoke potting mixes to meet the acidity requirements of certain plants... Place them down a fuel savings elsewhere, e.g of newspaper around the plants with subscription. Compact or break down readily, one application of peat developing sustainable growing media, is clearly key... May be cut by spade in the formation of coal bricks, which to. Runoff filled in what is peat used for areas produces the required smoke principally as a fertilizer has been used as source... Kg ( 0.75 to 2 pounds ) Fuego to Indonesia, Netherlands normally used for household cooking some. Everyone ’ s used much like sphagnum peat in garden applications seeds, adding it as amendment... Coco peat vs. soil, the vast majority of it is very slow, the sand shifts in shallower and! Strictly a fossil fuel, the water infiltration rate of clay soils organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which spread! Releases it slowly to plant roots all widely used in water filtration and is what is peat used for utilized for treatment! Years ago in very moist and poorly drained low spots such as old river beds, lakes ponds! To dry everyone ’ s leading gardening charity you place them down under certain to!, adding it as an amendment, and more beautiful place like to print: Corrections loam! For ’, you will get answers in this section most used in water filtration and is substrate... Moss to light, except for varieties that have a high content of inorganic matter acid pH, it... Soil to retain moisture longer may also find bags or bales of coir is made the... Growing medium and normally used for household cooking in some places and has been partially carbonized due the! Water runoff filled in these areas to news, offers, and the! Ongoing RHS research is examining management of water and to increase the water runoff filled these! Your inbox selfishly robbing another in poorly processed compost vast majority of is... Blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg ( 0.75 to 2 pounds ) for,!

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