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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Peat is vegetable matter which has been partially carbonized due to the way in which it decomposes.
  • Moss is one of the primary components of peat, although it may also contain other plant matter such as grasses and shrubs.
  • Peat forms in wetlands or peatlands, variously called bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests.
  • Peatlands are classified into two categories: bogs and fens.
  • Peat material is either fibric, hemic, or sapric.

Formation Process

  • The life cycle of peat moss is comprised of two distinct generations, the gametophyte and the sporophyte.
  • At the gametophyte stage, the plant bears leaves, synthesizes chlorophyll, and is able to reproduce sexually. The sporophyte generation consists mainly of a capsule that encloses the spores.
  • When peat is harvested, it is cut out of the bog in long strips which are compressed and dried.
  • The formation and localization of peat is a dynamic, continuous process, influenced by a number of factors, including climate and topography.

Application

  • There are a number of uses for peat, although the two primary uses are as a type of fuel and as a fertilizer.
  • Peat has been used as a source of fuel for domestic heating for centuries in Ireland. Peat is used in various forms for heating Irish hearths and hearts.
  • Peat can also be used to make paper, pad livestock beds, or pack products for shipment.
  • Peat fires are used to dry malted barley for use in Scotch whisky distillation.
  • Peat is also an important raw material in horticulture, and it is used in medicine and balneology to produce filters, textiles etc.

Technology

  • The prevalent low-technology method of obtaining peat thickness estimates involves probing with a rod.
  • It is felt that the use of digital processing techniques and possibly the use of image analysis techniques as used in the remote sensing analysis of imagery could be methods whereby the peat radar signals could be enhanced and analyzed, resulting in stratification information.
  • Open planting was found to be the best technique for rehabilitating highly degraded peat swamp forests (PSF).
  • A Research Group has developed basic techniques for the restoration of cutover peat fields.

Market

  • Restrictions on mining of peat moss in foreign countries coupled with the growing demand for a natural substitute to it could pave the way for largescale export of coir pith from India.
  • The world demand for coir pith is growing at the rate of 15 per cent per annum and over 75 per cent of the supply to the world market is currently emanating from Sri Lanka.
  • According to a report, out of the 77 coir-pith processing units in the country, 73 are in Tamil Nadu and hence there is ample scope for setting up of such processing units in other coir producing States.

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