Technical Benefits of Irish Peat
Evergreen can offer only the finest quality 100% Irish Sphagnum Moss Peat. Creating quality growing media products from sustainable natural resources remains at the fore of our family-run business now in its third generation. Our Peat is harvested from our own 250 acres of Irish Peat Bogs which are non-designated SSSI sites ethically and environmentally managed to support re-growth. As a substrate constituent, Irish Sphagnum peat is superior to any other material when it comes to performance. Due to its ability to hold water and nutrients, it saves fertilisers and water, with its unique structure providing roots with air. Irish Peat has amassed a reputation of being naturally free of human and plant pathogens and contains beneficial microbes which help to prevent fungal diseases with the naturally occurring humic acids stimulating root growth. As it is an organic material, peat is also compostable and does not produce unwanted waste. Moreover, it is widely available throughout the island of Ireland.
Peat consists of 95 % organic material. It is a mixture of decomposed plant material that has accumulated in a water-saturated environment without oxygen. Sphagnum peat therefore, mainly contains decomposed Sphagnum moss. When peat is used as a soil improver or substrate for long term crops, its structure and physical properties may change dramatically if it is slightly decomposed.
Volume reduction of fractions of various peats after 23 months incubation
Lower volume reduction indicates greater stability
Therefore it’s advisable to use more decomposed peat qualities for these applications. Lignin levels are higher in older (Irish) peat than in other younger peats and thus Irish Peat is less likely to breakdown as a result of handling. Studies have shown that Irish Peat is more resistant to mechanical breakdown.
This is due to the relatively high levels of Lignin in the older and more decomposed Irish Peat. Younger Peats have less Lignin and are therefore more vulnerable to breakdown which can lead to the creation of fine particles during mechanical handling and subsequently causing a reduction in air space. Irish Peat is derived from Sphagnum imbricatum while Baltic Peat is derived mainly from S. cuspidatum. S. cuspidatum has larger branch and stem leaves meaning air space is still likely to be high even with fine material e.g. 0-3mm peat. Larger leaves also result in a higher cation exchange capacity (CEC).
Slumping refers to the breakdown of peat in a pot during cropping. Slumping of peat due to microbial decomposition during cropping can have serious effects on the quality of the resultant plants. When crops are grown for long periods or have high aeration requirements and/or irrigation is ebb and flood, the use of stable peat, such as Irish peat which does not slump is recommended.
*Please refer to the table and chart below.
Relationship between lignin content and mechanical breakdown