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Official peat moss renewability thread

Posted by bpgreen 5UT (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 2, 10 at 1:07

Since spring is upon us, we're sure to see more questions about peat moss and its use and abuse.

Rather than sidetrack all those threads with discussions about whether it's renewable or not, let's start a thread just for that purpose and if anybody posts about peat moss, we'll refer them to this thread for the renewability questions and discuss the use in the thread where the question is asked.

A couple of ground rules are in order. I don't think we want to engage in name calling or ganging up on individual posters. It's okay to quote, but not okay to ridicule. Also, let's make sure we keep this on track. This thread is about peat moss. It's not about peat.

Although many in North America use the term peat to refer to peat moss, peat is actually something that is close to coal. There's little doubt that it was over harvested (especially in the British Isles) and that the peat bogs there have been largely depleted.

This thread is about peat moss, which is a very different product.

I'm not a fan of peat moss, but my reasons for disliking it are because of what happens when it dries out (and in Utah, it WILL dry out). I think peat moss is renewable, but people have gotten confused by the similarity in names between peat and peat moss.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Ok, then, I'll copy my last post here ;)

SPHAGNUM Peat Moss IS Renewable, PEAT is not!!!
I'm am new to posting here, so I mean no offense, but here are the FACTS on "peat" and "peat moss."

Sphagnum peat moss, the stuff you purchase as a soil amendment, is simply a slow-growing bog moss that is harvested responsibly up in Canada. It is harvested ALIVE!!! It is harvested on a rotation that allows the moss to regenerate itself. It is no less renewable than sustainably harvested timber is.

You can even purchase live sphagnum moss, which is used in floral arrangements.

Peat, on the otherhand is totally NOT renewable, and is very much an endangered product. "Peat" is actually the same sphagnum peat moss that grows in bogs, however it is the dead peat moss that settled to the bottom of the bogs over thousands of years, that is why peat bogs are called "ancient."

Endangered peat is not used as a soil amendment, but rather it is harvested as a fuel source and burned in old homes and castles in European fireplaces. In order to harvest it the bogs are drained of water and then the peat (many feet deep) is cut like bales of hay and allowed to dry in the air.

Ancient peat bogs are endangered, and the destruction of them is disastrous for the environment. Many ancient peat bogs were drained in the past simply to create fertile farmland. Many plants and animals evolved specifically in the peat bog environment and can survive nowhere else (many carnivorous plants). Also, peat bogs actually absorb a lot of carbon dioxide, just like the rainforests - both are irreplaceable.

Many very well preserved ancient human bodies have been discovered in peat bogs, being buried there for religious rituals. In fact the oldest humans found have been discovered in peat bogs (I don't remember where the oldest one was, but most were in England, Ireland and Northern Europe). The extreme acidity preserved not only the hair and flesh, but clothing fragments and food items as well.

By the way, after a few million years, that ancient peat is further chemically altered into another fuel source - oil!

When harvesting new Sphagnum peat moss the ancient peat below the water's surface remains intact - it must, otherwise the new moss would not be able to survive, as the alkalinity (from new rainfall and runoff) would kill the new moss.

So, in my opinion, purchasing peat moss as a soil amendment (not as a mulch or adding in bulk to soil as many people think they should do - that would be horrible for a low-maintenance garden), is actually benefiting the future survival of peat bogs. By creating demand for newly harvested peat moss, the harvesters have a valuable, renewable resource on their land, and this means that they have a very good reason not to drain the bog (and destroy it) to create farmland or develop it into condos.

Why is Canada's peat moss sustainable, but Europe's is almost extinct? Because Europeans, especially in the North where timber was scarce, have been harvesting the peat for centuries. They did not realize the harm they were doing until recently. The Canadian settlers, on the otherhand, only arrived a few hundred years ago, timber was plentiful, so there was no need for peat as a heat source, and farmland was plentiful as well, so basically the bogs were left alone by humans until the discovery of sphagnum as a soil amendment (it was used medicinally and as a preservative first).

So yeah, use peat moss in moderation as a TEXTURE amendment, but use other organic products like mulch, compost, straw to create a healthy soil. Just remember that it grows slowly and the production cannot expand to keep up with demand (peat bogs cannot be re-created, trust me, I've read every research paper and experiment that has been tried).


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

nat-

What do you do that you have so much time to read every research paper on peat?


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

According to the Canadian peat moss industry peat moss is a renewable resource. According to many horticulturists and soil scientists and botanist peat moss is a non renewable resource because of the length of time needed for a peat bog to make 1 inch of peat moss.
For many people there is no need to spend money on peat moss since they have, every year, a very good and renewable organic resource readily available that I see most people rake up, bag up, and pay someone to haul to a dump where that material becomes a pollutant. We do have one person who will gladly come and pick up your tree leaves from you (if you live in my area of the world) and he takes those leaves back to his landscape business where he composts them and then sells that compost for a fairly good price.
Constantly arguing about whether peat moss is or is not a non renwewable resource is a waste of time and energy because it is not a renewable resource, except according to the people with a vested interest in selling it to you.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Constantly arguing about whether peat moss is or is not a non renwewable(sic) resource is a waste of time and energy because despite ALL the valid, documented scientific evidence to the contrary and the support of all manner of environmental agencies and ecological associations, there are some who persist in adhering to old beliefs and information and remain entirely closed-minded to the issues of sustainability.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I for one am happy with this thread. It has cleared up a lot of the information for me. Why would anyone blast out with political rhetoric on a garden forum? You tell me?
I only use peat on seed starting and some container plants so my usage is minimal. Still nice to know that it is sustainable, that goes well with my conservative(non-political usage)nature. I use local O.M. for the garden as it is cheap and abundant. Thanks again.

Curt~


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

There is concern. There is debate. And it does not take more than 5 minutes of googling to find scientists, horticulturalists, and wetland experts who deny the sustainability of mining peat. You can turn a peat bog into a wetland, but you cannot, unless given thousands of years, turn it back into a peat bog. You will find articles against the mining of peat in the American Horticulture Society literature, the Royal Horticulture Society literature and the North Americans Wetlands Council literature.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

And none of those sources refer specifically to the harvesting of Canadian peat or the incredibly enormous size of the pristine, untouched Canadian peat reserves versus the relatively miniscule amount that is harvested and farmed or replanted. Oversight and management of the very limited real estate devoted to the Canadian peat industry all falls within the definition of 'sustainability'. Being able to reharvest a peat bog after only 15-25 years from the initial harvest certainly sounds renewable to me. And to a whole lot of other folk as well.

You cannot compare worldwide peat mining/harvesting with the process that is maintained in Canada - it is apples and oranges.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 2, 10 at 12:25

Chicken Little would be aghast at any inference peat is renewable. In my estimation, it doesn't matter much if it's renewable or not, and I refuse to be made to feel even mildly guilty about using peat.

Here is a reply I often leave when the non-renewable thing comes up:

"Sorry, but I'm not buying the non-renewable lament. In Canada alone, there are more than 270 million acres of harvestable peat bogs. If we make the conservative guess that the harvestable portions of these bogs are 10 feet deep, that means there are probably more than 900 billion cu. ft. available for harvest, just in Canada! That doesn't even take into consideration what's available in Europe, Asia, or places like New Zealand where they also mine peat. Canada currently has mining/harvesting operations underway on approximately 40 thousand acres or about .014% (that reads 14 one thousandths of 1 percent)."
Check the math - it's accurate and conservative. It's more likely that the next ice age will be upon us and glaciers will have covered what's available before we even use a noticeable percentage.

Renewable/non-renewable = moot.

Al


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 2, 10 at 12:35

Ann! Guess what I found!

"The one function we cannot replace is a virgin bog that stores geo-paleantological history. For that reason, it is important to identify bogs for conservation in all areas of Canada."

So it was sort of a word. I guess the 'dash' was needed for the search to work.

Still not sure exactly what it means but it is in a document.

Lloyd

P.S. Not many people are going to understand this post but AnnP will!

Here is a link that might be useful: Environmental Concerns


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

You know, Lloyd, it was such a good word, I was pretty sure that I hadn't made it up. Most of the words I make up are two syllable and not so scientific. That article must be the source of my using the word, come upon one, of many, no doubt sunny, days when I got sucked into three, or more, never to be gotten back, hours spent googling "harvesting peat bogs".

The peat bogs from which the peat moss is harvested cannot be restored. It's a little like saying, there's no problem cutting down the Redwoods because we can plant more. What you are saying, instead of saying that harvesting from a peat bog is not an environmental concern, you're saying it's okay to mine the peat moss because Canada's got tons of peat bogs. Therefore, some are expendable. Canada needs the industry.

Ok.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by terran zone10/Sunset20 CA (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 3, 10 at 13:24

I'm with Kimmsr on this one ..."there is no need to spend money on peat moss since they have, every year, a very good and renewable organic resource readily available...".

I don't usually read the posts on peat moss because I do not use it, but has the amount of oil it takes to transport it to foreign markets from Canada been included in the environmental equation?

Terran


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I'm with bpgreen on this one, living in a similar clime. I mean, there you are, driving down to the garden shoppe, packing the torn bag of peat moss into the vehicle, (they're all torn - they do it up in Canada before they ship 'em), driving home sneezing from the peat dust. If you made the mistake of bringing along the pet dog, the dog suddenly decides there is something in the peat bag and starts barking and tearing it up. Then, spreading peat moss out which requires a long day spent toiling in the sun.

And the next day it all blows to Kansas.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe this is mined from public lands, its from private property. And I have heard from several sources that the more unsophisticated land owner often ends up with little or no money and a big muddy mess on his property.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I'm with Lloyd on this one ;-)

Lloyd wrote : "The one function we cannot replace is a virgin"

I have tried and tried and tried... ;-)

Jon E Hughes 3-10-2010


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 3, 10 at 20:02

LOL ...virgin BOG Jon!! ;-)

Actually I am indifferent to the peat moss issue. I don't use it even though there are miles upon miles of the stuff not too far away.

Lloyd

P.S. Just realized our birthdays are only 2 days apart, mines 16th, big 50 this year for moi!


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Bog ??? To each his own...I like Girls ;-)

Yeah...You youngsters are all alike,always have to have something different ;-)

I'll be 52 this year, going by real fast too ! ! Over the hill and picking up speed ;-)


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I wouldn't dare discuss my interactions with peat (sphagnum) on this forum. No way. And this used to be a fun place to browse. Reminds me of going to the food co-op and finding out just how politically incorrect I am.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Hi kathy9norcal,
You wrote "and finding out just how politically incorrect I am."

It really has nothing to do with being politically correct or not..

I can't imagine anyone arguing with Al"s logical info...

Al wrote" "Sorry, but I'm not buying the non-renewable lament. In Canada alone, there are more than 270 million acres of harvestable peat bogs. If we make the conservative guess that the harvestable portions of these bogs are 10 feet deep, that means there are probably more than 900 billion cu. ft. available for harvest, just in Canada! That doesn't even take into consideration what's available in Europe, Asia, or places like New Zealand where they also mine peat. Canada currently has mining/harvesting operations underway on approximately 40 thousand acres or about .014% (that reads 14 one thousandths of 1 percent)."
Check the math - it's accurate and conservative. It's more likely that the next ice age will be upon us and glaciers will have covered what's available before we even use a noticeable percentage.

Renewable/non-renewable = moot. "

It's almost like saying "we really shouldn't be using dirt", it isn't renewable either ....is it ????


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Sphagnum peat moss is the stuff you buy in a bag at stores like osh. If I had a notion that I wanted to improve my soil with this ancient European bog peat, there would no way I could buy it. So, if it not available for sale why are people debating about it? If it is for sale, where is it for sale, and would it not be expensive?

I don't actually like Sphagnum peat moss, it kind of makes a mess as mulch. If you walk on it, it's sticks to your shoes and get tracked everywhere. It has a problem being wet.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 3, 10 at 23:09

Jon - some, more than others, will always have greater difficulty separating the logic from ideologic ....... and doesn't sacrificing logic on the altar of the ecologic decidedly smack of political correctness?

Al


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

So could this be Sphagnum peat moss? (minus the white flowers)
Photobucket


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Sphagnum Peat MOSS is sustainably HARVESTED.

Non-Renewable ancient PEAT is MINED.

The mined peat is in Europe, the harvested peat MOSS is from Canada.

The Bogs are NOT, NOT, NOT destroyed when harvesting LIVING peat moss. They cannot be destroyed - if the harvesters were to destroy the underlying ancient peat bog then the new peat moss would not renew itself - it would die because the bog would become too alkaline for survival. Therefore, if they destroy the bogs they will be destroying themselves because they would go out of business.

This argument is the same absurd argument that environmentalists have used to put lumberjacks and fishermen out of business. This is a straw-man argument that may end up doing more harm to the environment in the future. There is no one more concerned about the environment that I know of than lumberjacks and fishermen. They care not for political reasons, but because their liveliehoods depend on it. Banning fishing within state boundaries only puts local fishermen out of business, especially when Japanese fishing boats sit just outside in International Waters and the fish are not aware that they should not swim there. All it does is drop the market price of fish (Japanese have no limits on the amount caught, so they flood the market), thereby increasing demand and therefore leading to the loss of more fish in the sea. At least when our local fishermen followed the laws and caught only the legal limit the price was higher, but local jobs were not lost. The same goes for lumberjacks; timber-farming is a long-term investment. Environmentalists claim that cutting down trees is evil, yet I have never met a lumberjack who has decimated an entire forest, and most of them also plant new trees. Why? Because if all the trees are cut down today they will not have a job tomorrow.

Most people who survive off the land actually respect it in an honest way that no Starbucks-drinking, hybrid-driving eco-protester ever will. I hate getting political on a garden site, but where I come from it was the Republicans who preserved the most land and instituted the strictest recycling and anti-pollution laws. The Republicans did it for economic reasons originally - the Bay became polluted and the clams started dying, clamming was one of the largest industries, so the Republicans banned polluting and cleaned up the waterways; our dumps filled up and we couldn't afford to ship out our garbage, so the Republicans mandated that everyone separate paper, plastics, glass and metal from ordinary trash and they built the first recycling center. We all complained in the beginning, but then it became second-nature. Then the Democrats came in and gave away land to their fat-cat donors to over-develop into way too many cookie-cutter developments that led to excessive flooding because of the loss of trees and too many paved surfaces. Not to mention ex-Governor Spitzer (yes, that one) witholding our local tax dollars that were specifically set aside to buy up land in the Hamptons to keep it preserved as open space and farmland, just because he was pissed off at our County Executive for political reasons. Yeah, the Dems have now all but banned fishing any of our waters, claiming it is bad for the environment, that the fishermen are the problem. But like I said, the boats from Asia are just a couple hours (if even) off-shore and the fish don't know any better.
Ok, since many people here may ask why local fishermen are better for the environment than banning fishing is, it is simple. It's pretty much like comparing a local market to Walmart. Simply put, when fishing was a big local industry, it was also a big part of local culture; we'd go down to the marina to watch boats come in and eat at the local clam shack or seafood restaurant; the prices didn't matter. Now the clam shacks are going out of business (banning clamming), and seafood restaurants and food stores have to purchase fish from farther away. The prices of the fish may be less, but that's only because they were caught by foreigners and brought to market in bulk. Therefore it is better to allow local fishermen to fish (they did so responsibly, according to season and size of fish), than to ban local fishing and still allow those same fish to be caught by foreigners and sold here for our consumption (a consumption which is greater because the prices are lower).

Anyway, no bogs are harmed in the harvesting of fresh peat MOSS. The peat moss grows back slowly, and that is why it is harvested in a very slow cycle, after it has re-generated itself. Just like a lumberjack who plants an oak tree - he knows that at best it will be his grandkids who will eventually reap any economic rewards from cutting it down, since an oak less that 50 years old (usually even older) is virtually worthless as timber.


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RE: Politically Incorrect

I'm new to this forum, so I don't know if we can have signatures, but my standard signature is as follows (I think it is very fitting in this debate):

I may be a vegetarian, but I'll defend to the death your right to eat meat.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Natschultz--You spent very little time on the issue of the thread, and instead tried to politicize it and to introduce other arguments.

Let's please try to confine this thread to peat moss.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

A question about harvested peat MOSS -- When it is thoroughly incorporated IN the soil, does it help to retain moisture in the root zone? If it doesn't break down as quickly as other forms of OM, is it better in that regard?[moisture retention/release] Or are all sources of OM equal in long-lasting effective moisture retention? Here is SoCal, water issures are HUGE.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Accually I'm pretty sure Nat is the only one that included any information at all in his post

Honestly I don't care if its renewable or not one bale last many years making potting mix but I wouldn't go putting tons of it into the garden as Kimm says there are a lot of other things that will work for that


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Some people are really into using tons of renewable peat moss, because they are afraid wood based products will rob nitrogen from the soil and that plants will do less well. There is a guy who has a radio show called "You bet your garden" who is always railing about how bad it is to use wood products. I don't have a problem with wood products. If it was terrible to use wood, my garden would be all messed up right now. Conclusion: This is why some people are really into using peat.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I have practical questions.

natschultz wrote:

"The Bogs are NOT, NOT, NOT destroyed when harvesting LIVING peat moss. They cannot be destroyed - if the harvesters were to destroy the underlying ancient peat bog then the new peat moss would not renew itself - it would die because the bog would become too alkaline for survival. Therefore, if they destroy the bogs they will be destroying themselves because they would go out of business."

Theoretically, yes. However, it was also pointed out above that there are 100 kajillion acres of peat bogs in Canada. If there is such a huge reserve, what's the incentive for harvesters to take such care when harvesting? Do they *really* leave an undamaged bog that will renew itself?

And, what is the actual growth and accumulation rate of Canadian sphagnum? If it takes 100 years to make an inch under ideal conditions, again, what's the incentive to harvest cleanly without tearing up the place?

These are not loaded questions, I'm genuinely interested.

Maybe some pictures of pre- and post-harvest Canadian bogs would help.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

A site with some pics and a lot of information on canadian peat moss

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 5, 10 at 15:25

I've only seen a couple of small time harvest areas and a few sod areas but for the most part, the "farmer" doesn't want high transportation costs. Once an access (road) is built it is nicer (cheaper) if all the areas are close together with single point access. One doesn't want to move equipment or product long distances on a regular basis.

If one is going to re-grow the peat he would be thinking in the long term of re-harvesting so it is in his best interest to ensure it's done correctly.

Similar to christmas tree growing/harvesting it's a long term rotation that may in fact get sold as a standing asset and might not be harvested by the same guy again. They sell it as a business asset when they retire so it's a good idea to look after it whilst they are harvesting the product. ($$)

Lloyd


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Interesting link jeremyjs. That tractor in the middle pic appears to be harvesting. It does not look like what I would expect a 'bog' to look like. I thought a bog was waterlogged and very soft. That's a rather conventional looking tractor. Do they drain an area and let it dry first, or is it not that wet to begin with? Or is it dry during part of the year and that's when harvesting is done?

The Wikipedia entry on sphagnum moss says that in New Zealand (obviously someone familiar with their system wrote the entry), there is a conservation program that requires harvesters to leave enough plant material for regrowth, and that harvesting is done on a 3-year cycle. That appears to be a process of skimming the surface, as opposed to the unsustainable deep harvesting that takes out the entire living surface as well as the deep deposits.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

The link - http://www.peatmoss.com/pm-harvest.php
seems to indicate that harvesting the peat MOSS for horticultural uses, rather than for fuel is to buy material harvested in Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland,South Africa, & USA -- they produce ZERO peat for energy/fuel.

Nations harvesting peat for fuel - presumably destroying ancient deposits -- are Belaruse, Estonia,Finland, Ireland,Lithuania,Russia, Sweden, Ukraine,& UK ...

BTW - if you click onto HARVESTING PEAT at top of page, it describes every step of the harvest process. Those bogs must be pretty sturdy to undergo that strenuous process with/out lasting harm.

As to restoring the harvested site ... click onto top tab ENVIRONMENT ... click onto menu PEATLAND RESTORATION GUIDE .... some interesting aireal photos along with a lot of verbiage, which might or might not be mostly obfuscating BS. I tried to follow it, but the jargon overwhelmed my attention span.... had a sneaky suspicion that the so-called RENEWABLE harvesting of this material is wrapped in legalese with massive loop holes to avoid any real effect.

Upshot of my reading that website was that I won't be buying any more bales of peat moss.

Here is a link that might be useful: Production chart


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I like using spagnum peat moss from a local source 6 miles from me. It comes well hydrated and stays well hydrated. I have used it in bulk. Yes, I also truck in loads of leaf compost, horse manure, and mulch leaves.

Seems to me that there is a whole lot of it in Canada and there surely are more critical choices for heavy worry......many choices.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

There are millions of acres of peat bogs, and I believe that many of them are preservation sites (not allowed to be harvested). The others are owned by different owners, therefore they will not over-harvest their own bog just because another bog is down the street - it is owned by someone else. That would be like a timberfarmer cutting down all his own trees under the assumption that next year he can just go and cut down his neighbor's forest. Lawsuit, anyone?

Most remaining bogs in the USA are nature preserves, not harvestable.

The harvesting equipment is like what they use to harvest cranberries in bogs.

borderbarb - peat moss will conserve water, but it must be saturated first - it will repel water when dry; use it sparingly, not as the main ingredient in your soil. Top-mulching is the most important thing you can do to preserve water. In Southern CA I'd probably top mulch with a few inches of cedar mulch and then cover that up with a layer of decorative rock mulch. The rocks will evaporate any water first, keeping the mulch and soil below moist for a longer time. I know a lot of people say mulch with rocks in dry areas because they stop evaporation, but they also absorb the heat of the sun and that will heat up the soil below and dry it out even more. But I would think that unless you use a ton of wood mulch that in such a hot area it too would dry out too quickly. Think of the mulch like insulation in the walls of a house and the rocks like the siding protecting it.

Being afraid of using wood-based products is down-right dumb. If they were so bad for plants then there would be no forests. Forests are nourished by ALL wood-based composts and mulches. Besides, if the materials have already been composted then they will not rob the soil of nitrogen. I use cedar mulch everywhere except the veggie beds, I amend clay soil with leaves and pine needles, and I add peat moss when planting Rhododendrons and other acid-loving plants. BTW: Do NOT use that colored mulch! I had to buy some a few weeks ago because Lowes didn't have natural cedar yet, and when I opened it it smelled TOXIC! I have no idea what is in that dye, but I returned the bags I had not opened. Honestly, I've used black mulch in the past under a pair of red chairs and it didn't smell bad, but the brown stuff was awful.

Jonas302 - natschultz is a "She" not a "He" ;)


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Natschultz wrote:

>There are millions of acres of peat bogs, and I believe that many of them are preservation sites (not allowed to be harvested). The others are owned by different owners, therefore they will not over-harvest their own bog just because another bog is down the street - it is owned by someone else. That would be like a timberfarmer cutting down all his own trees under the assumption that next year he can just go and cut down his neighbor's forest.
---

If that was the case there would be no clearcutting of forests, and we all know there is. What happens with some forests is you acquire logging rights from the owner, cut the trees and move on. Of course there are some forests owned by timber companies, but many are owned by others and by the government - at least here in the US. So I have to wonder how that translates to peat harvesting. Or is it more like a row crop, corn or beans or wheat, where the 'farmer' does own it and keeps harvesting the same area.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

While individual Canadian peat bogs may be privately owned - many are not and under the ownership of the appropriate governmental agency of that province - virtually all are harvested, maintained and restored by a handful of authorized large companies. Harvesting peat is not an inexpensive operation and few small landowners have the equipment and resources to do so. And all Canadian peat harvesting is highly regulated, both nationally and by province......much more so than any logging operations in this country.

If you want to gain a full understanding of the industry and their strides on maintaining the sustainability of the Canadian peat industry, read the entire position paper prepared by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.

Here is a link that might be useful: Canadian Peat Harvesting and the Environment (pdf)


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Thanks everyone for all your comments, this has been quite interesting. I certainly know a lot more about the complexities than I did before. I still won't be using the stuff, but that's mainly because I have lots of local organic matter available rather than importing it from Canada. I'm a lot clearer on the 'ancient deposits' vs. new growth thing.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I use the alternative stuff - were they clear cut tropical low land rain forests forests and start up monoculture coconut plantations, and then when they process the nuts, the left over coir is compressed, packaged, and shipped half way around the world.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

David52m you have my vote for best humorous comments on this thread.

..."packing the torn bag of peat moss into the vehicle, (they're all torn - they do it up in Canada before they ship 'em) Ain't that the truth?

And then there's...

"And the next day it all blows to Kansas".

Natschultz wondered if it was okay to have a signature line. I 'm thinking of adopting David52's comment as mine. Very existential.

And the next day it all blows to Kansas,

Rain


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 6, 10 at 16:50

"And the next day it all blows to Kansas,"

Ya but I thought everything blew out of Kansas??!!

As in "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more".

Don't tell me the movie lied??!!

;-)

Lloyd


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

Aha, the *real* important questions begin to surface. Now we're getting somewhere.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 6, 10 at 17:18

I sense I'm being mocked. ;-)

Lloyd


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

And a fine point you make, Lloyd!

No, no, the movie didn't lie to you. That was just existentialism flavored with a Dada twist.


Rain (Argh. Now that old Police song is stuck in my head ....)


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

If the peat moss they sell at osh is so renewable why has it doubled in price? I used to buy it years ago, but since I was looking there it is now like 15.99 for a bag that used to be about 6.99. Using wood product is a lot cheaper. When you are doing a lot of soil amending, how can one afford to spend that much on one bag? I could see one bag a year, but I run through several bags of product per month.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

why has it doubled in price? I used to buy it years ago, but since I was looking there it is now like 15.99 for a bag that used to be about 6.99

Inflation?


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Or maybe

Fuel prices?


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

"If the peat moss they sell at osh is so renewable why has it doubled in price? I used to buy it years ago, but since I was looking there it is now like 15.99 for a bag that used to be about 6.99. Using wood product is a lot cheaper. When you are doing a lot of soil amending, how can one afford to spend that much on one bag? I could see one bag a year, but I run through several bags of product per month."

My parents used to sing a song that started with "If I had a nickel, I know what I would do. I'd take it out and spend it on a candy bar for you."

I know that candy bars are not renewable, but I'm pretty sure that's not why they no longer cost a nickel.

A little perspective would help. When you say "years ago" how many years ago? I've got a link to an inflation calculator somewhere that will "translate" today's prices to those of "yesterday" (or yesteryear . . . ).


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

2 things cause the price to go up:

1 - Inflation (how long ago, and were wood products also cheaper back then?)

2 - DEMAND!

Like I said, it IS renewable, but it grows very slowly, so only so much can be harvested each year. Therefore, if people buy a whole lot of it the price must necessarily increase until an equilibrium between price and demand is reached (at $5 a bag it will sell out and the harvesters cannot produce anymore, at $50 no one will buy it; at $15 ($10 in NY) the price is right and demand meets the supply). It is a commodity - just like corn or soybeans - the prices rise and fall based on demand and supply (affected by the environment or political actions).

The increase in price is good for the environment (my main argument in my first two long posts), because it forces consumers to opt for more RAPIDLY renewable soil amendments.

My argument above (and why I support regulated, responsible harvesting of peat moss) is that the "politically correct" "peat moss is non-renewable" argument can have a detrimental effect on the environment because it may cause DEMAND to FALL until the PRICE DROPS to meet lower demand, which in turn actually will INCREASE DEMAND at the lower price (if peat moss becomes substantially cheaper than rapidly renewable sources). It is what I call the Walmart Effect - prices fall so low that consumption increases above necessary levels. For example, if quality nurseries stop carrying peat moss for political reasons, then big box stores will buy it up even cheaper and even more people (the masses who shop at box stores and do not care about renewability) will demand it and even more will be sold overall. Normally, without such unnatural interference in the Free Market, the price will find equilibrium. That is where it is now ($10-$15 a bale). Peat moss harvesters have invested too much capital to just stop harvesting when prices fall, so to make up for any shortfall caused by lower prices they will harvest even more (perhaps illegally) to make up the difference. This is why a lot of crops in the USA are destroyed - to keep prices high (this is the government's fault for paying farmers when they lose money).

Right now demand meets (the sustainably harvested) supply, and at that level the cost per bale is $10-$15.

It sounds like you were using a ton of the stuff in the past - that is actually very bad for your soil and plants; using wood products and compost is much healthier. Peat moss DOES have a legitimate use, just not as the MAIN ingredient of any soil mix.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

We need to inform the world of our findings, because there are still conservation groups out there who continue to debate this settled issue.


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 2, 10 at 9:19

Peat moss, not just for soil.

Lloyd

Here is a link that might be useful: How Canadian peat moss might save Floridas beaches


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

This is only my second post on this forum for months, but this thread is too entertaining. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of hypocrisy out there.
"Don't cut down the trees!" - While living in my stick built house.
"Don't offshore drill!" - While driving to a spot for recreational rather than necessary purposes.
"Be a vegan because it's wrong to kill animals!" - As the vegan destroys millions of creatures and displaces many others clearing land for a garden or farm - by the way, I'm even a vegetarian and I can see that error in logic. I just admit I'm a vegetarian for me and not to save creatures just to kill them elsewhere. I'm just opposed to the cruelty of factory farming. My wife, however, won't eat meat at all and she's the cook! Anyway, I digress. . .
"Don't use the non-renewable resources!" - As the hypocrite sits in front of his/her computer which was built using non-renewable resources such as coal or gas and is quite possibly using electricity that is from equally non-renewable resources to post. You can't post on a forum against the use of non-renewable resources without being a hypocrite. It's totally impossible. You have to use non-renewable resources just to get online!

Sadly, I used to be one of those super hypocrites. I bet you could even find a post from me in the past on this site that contradicts my current thought process. I stopped letting media think for me so much and started applying a little thing called logic. They really ought to start teaching a little more of that in school so we have fewer hypocrites making silly arguments out there and instead making better decisions. And, of course, I've found I've been as big a hyprocrite as any. Too many people think that because they read it in a publication, it must be true. Or worse, because a university studied it, it must be true. I mean, it's not like research departments get more money for saying, "nothing to see here".


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 3, 10 at 12:11

That's an interesting perspective, Joe. I'm not referring specifically to this discussion, but I've always felt that in the US there are more sheeple than people, the chief difference between the groups being the ability to reason well and think logically, and to sort through all the hype they see and read, rejecting what's unworthy of belief.

I'm glad to see you've been bounced from the bandwagon.

Al


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RE: Official peat moss renewability thread

I use local spaghnum peat moss a lot....love it.


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