Sphagnum farming

Sphagnum farming on peat soils is a form of paludiculture on raised bog sites. Paludiculture („palus“ – Latin „swamp“) is agriculture and forestry on wet and rewetted peatlands.

What is Sphagnum farming?

Sphagnum farming is the cultivation of peat moss (Sphagnum) aiming for the production and harvest of peat moss biomass. For this purpose the Sphagnum is cultivated in order to gain renewable raw material for the production of horticultural growing media.

Potential sites for Sphagnum cultivation on peat soils are degraded former raised bog sites such as cut-over peat bogs or cultivated bogs, which are currently used as pastures and meadows. Alternatively, Sphagnum can also be cultivated on floating rafts on open water, former peat cuttings in degraded raised bogs or lakes which developed after open-cast lignite mining.

The cultivation of Sphagnum has many benefits:

  • Climate: Conservation of carbon fixed in peat and reduction of CO2 emissions by rewetting degraded peatlands
  • Environment: Reduction of the emission of pollutants into ground and surface water in comparison to agricultural land use; renewed function of water purification and water retention in peatlands as well as a local cooling effect due to increased water evaporation.
  • Wildlife: Habitats for rare and endangered Sphagnum species
  • Landscape: Conservation of open landscape.
  • Economy: Renewable alternative to depleting fossil raw materials, job creation and alternative means of income in rural areas as well as regional creation of value.

Details

Sphagnum farming on peat soils is a form of paludiculture on raised bog sites.

Background
Everyone of us consumes peat on a daily basis: either directly as potting soil or indirectly by consuming fruit and vegetables grown on peat. Peat is the most important and so far irreplaceable ingredient for the production of high quality growing media in horticulture. Worldwide consumption amounts to 30 million cubic metres, which will be emitted into the atmosphere as CO2 after short time usage. more...

Usage
The characteristics of peat moss biomass include a low pH, low content of nutrients, very good rewettability, high storage capacity for water and air, a low weight per unit of volume, low nitrogen mobilisation as well as antibacterial and antifungal properties. Sphagnum biomass has numerous potential applications some of which may not yet even be known. more...

Projects
At the University of Greifswald different research projects are focusing on the cultivation of Sphagnum on degraded raised bog sites. The projects aim for the replacement of destructive forms of land use on peat soils such as maize cultivation, grassland use and peat mining with peat conservation and sustainable cultivation of Sphagnum under wet conditions. more...

International activities on Sphagnum farming

Sphagnum farming workshop
2011 in Canada

Sphagnum farming is an expanding research field with relevance for the protection of peatlands and climate. Activities aiming at the establishment and the utilisation of Sphagnum and the restoration of degraded bogs. more...