General information and occurrence
Peat is an organic sediment originated in a humid environment as a result of an accumulation and peat-formation of an organic matter mainly of a plant origin. The peat-formation process is generally based on the partial organic matter decomposition in a limited oxygen access. There are physical, chemical and microbiological transformations occurring during this process. Depending on environmental conditions and a type of the turfogenic vegetation (biotope), as well as on accumulation conditions and changes of these factors, various types and kinds of peat are formed. They differ in their appearance, composition and properties.
According to genetic features, there are low, high and medium peat distinguished. The low peat originates on peatlands (low) occurring in swampy river valleys, in ground dips and on lake edges. That type of peat is reach in food ingredients supplied by surface and deep-seated water. The high peat originates on peatlands (high) located on divides or within the zones located above the surrounding areas which are supplied only by rainwater. They are characterized by a low content of the food ingredients and higher acidity than the low peat. The medium peat combines the features of both peat types mentioned above. Most of peat originated in the late-Quaternary, mainly in the Holocene.
The distribution of peatlands and peat deposits is uneven in Poland. They commonly occur in northern and north-western Poland and within the Lubelszczyzna area. In other regions their number, thickness and dispersion decrease.
Peatlands are the element of wetlands ecosystem. Natural and dehydrated wetlands cover the area of about 4.4 million hectares in Poland, that is 14.2% of the total country area. There have been about 52 thousands of peatlands (each with an area exceeding 1 hectare) catalogued. They cover an area of about 1.3 million hectares in total and it accounts for 30% of wetlands area and 4% of the area of Poland. Low peatlands dominate, accounting for more than 92%, high peatlands account for about 4.7%, whereas medium peatlands for about 3%. The peat beds thickness is of 1.6 m on average (maximum of 11.5 m)*.
According to the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the 1st of July 2015 regarding the geological documentation of a mineral raw material deposit, excluding a hydrocarbons field (Journal of Laws 2015, Item 987) the limit values of the parameters that define the raw material deposit and its boundaries are (Appendix 8):
- peat deposits (table 5):
the minimum deposit thickness 1 m; the maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit thickness 0.5; the maximum ash content in dry peat - 30%;
- therapeutical peat deposits – muds (table 6):
the minimum deposit thickness 1 m; the maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit thickness 0.5; the maximum non-organic matter content in dry mass 25%; the minimum grade of decomposition 30% (H3); the bacteriological valuation (coli titer) ≥1.0; the coli titer perfringens ≥1.0;
- mud silts deposits (table 7):
the minimum deposit thickness 1 m; the maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit thickness 0.5; the maximum non-organic matter content in dry mass 80%; minimum grade of decomposition 30% (H3); the bacteriological valuation (coli titer) ≥1.0; the coli titer perfringens ≥1.0.
Nowadays, a so-called “agriculture peat” is used mainly in the agriculture, gardening (mushroom growing), fruit-growing, forestry and in the reclamation processes. Such peat is characterized by the features improving a soil structure and air-water conditions. Peat is also a base for the production of a garden peat, a peat base, mineral peat mixtures and an agriculture peat.
Therapeutical peat – muds – is used in balneology for peat baths, poultices and for the production of medicine items and cosmetics. Such muds have to be of a proper microbiologically cleanness, in an advanced decay of organic matter, of a smooth mud consistency, with a high content of active organic compounds and of a moisture content over 75% and should not be affected by freezing and defreezing. An application of muds for therapeutical purposes in health treatment (and also other natural therapeutical raw materials) is regulated by: the Act of the 28th of July 2005 on Health Resort Medical Care, Health Resorts and Health Resort Protection Areas and Health Resort Counties (Journal of Laws 2005, Item 1301, unified text) and the Regulation by the Minister of Health of the 13th of April 2006 on the scope of studies necessary to establish therapeutical features of natural therapeutical raw materials and therapeutical features of climate, criteria for their assessment and the certificate template confirming such features (Journal of Laws 2018, Item 605, unified text).
In the past, peat in Poland was also used as a fuel, a raw material for chemical industry, for production of a cardboard, fiberboard and as a sorbent. Nowadays, there are imported briquettes and pellets made of peat available on Polish market – they are used as fuel.
There are most important peat deposits (with muds marked out) presented on the map.
Resources and output
As of the end of 2022, the anticipated economic resources of peat (agriculture and therapeutical) amounted to 98.405 million m3, including: the agriculture peat resources equal 87.801 million m3 accounting for 89.2% of the total resources, and the therapeutical peat resources equal 10.605 million m3 accounting for 10.8% of the total resources.
In comparison with the previous year, the resources above mentioned increased by 4.151 million m3 (4.4%) in total, including: the agriculture peat resources grew by 3.726 million m3 (4.4%), whereas the therapeutical peat resources increased by 0.425 million m3 (4.2%).
There were 12 new deposits included in “The balance…”, including:
- 7 deposits of the agriculture peat: Kolechowice VIII (0.041 million m3) in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Popławy-Wyrzyki (0.196 million m3) in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Jałowiec II (1.734 million m3), Poliksy II (0.100 million m3), Półkownikówka (2.761 million m3) and Wołcza Wielka (0.101 million m3) in Pomorskie Voivodeship (total resources 4.697 million m3) and Kamień II (0.104 million m3) in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship; the resources increase for the agriculture peat amount in total to 5.038 million m3;
- 5 deposits of the therapeutical peat (muds): Puścizna Wielka II (0.375 million m3 – allocated from the Puścizna Wielka deposit) and Puścizna Wielka II/1 (0.061 million m3 – allocated from the Puścizna Wielka II deposit) in Małopolskie Voivodeship, Zabłocie T (0.045 million m3) in Śląskie Voivodeship, Janów (0.008 million m3) and Pasturka (0.006 million m3) in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. In total 0.431 million m3, including: 0.059 million m3 of newly documented resources and 0.372 million m3 of resources allocated from existing deposits.
There were 7 new documentations with recalculated resources (supplements) approved, including:
- 4 supplements for the agriculture peat deposits: Michałów I in Lubelskie Voivodeship (there were resources documented in a higher C1 category, the resources amount remained unchanged), whereas non-depleted resources of the Konotop IV deposit in Lubuskie Voivodeship, the Perlino deposit in Pomorskie Voivodeship and the Kamień I deposit in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship were crossed out from the registry – the total drop of the resources is equal 0.122 million m3;
- 1 supplement for the agriculture and therapeutical peat (muds) Puścizna Wielka deposit in Małopolskie Voivodeship (the resources updated after the allocation of the Puścizna Wielka II deposit);
- 2 supplements for the therapeutical peat (muds) deposits: Puścizna Wielka II in Małopolskie Voivodeship (the resources updated after the allocation of the Puścizna Wielka II/1 deposit), Zabłocie in Śląskie Voivodeship (the resources updated and the exploitation settled).
The total peat output amounted in 2022 to 1,191.41 thousand m3 and decreased by 51.11 thousand m3 (4.1%) in comparison with 2021. The exploitation was carried out from 57 deposits (the output from three deposits ended in 2022; the output from six deposits started). The agriculture peat was exploited from 46 deposits. The output was equal 1,185.44 thousand m3 (99.6% of the total peat output) and decreased by 52.99 thousand m3 (4.3%) in comparison with 2021. For the particular deposits the output volumes varied significantly – between 0.2 and 136 thousand m3. The therapeutical peat was exploited from 11 deposits. The output amounted to 5.97 thousand m3 of muds (0.5% of the total peat output) – by 1.87 thousand m3 (46.0%) more than in the previous year. The output volumes for particular deposits varied from several cubic meters to 2.14 thousand m3.
Regarding the particular Voivodeships, the peat output (agriculture and muds) was as follows (descending sequence): Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship 0.244 million m3 (20.5% of the domestic output), Lubeskie Voivodeship 0.214 million m3 (18.0%), Mazowieckie Voivodeship 0.190 million m3 (15.9%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship 0.140 million m3 (11.8%), Podlaskie Voivodeship 0.136 million m3 (11.4%), Lubuskie Voivodeship 0.093 million m3 (7.8%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship 0.091 million m3 (7.6%), Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.070 million m3 (5.9%), Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship 0.004 million m3 (0.3%), Podkarpackie Voivodeship 0.003 million m3 (0.3%), Śląskie Voivodeship 0.003 million m3 (0.3%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship 0.002 million m3 (0.2%), In Dolnośląskie, Łódzkie, Małopolskie and Opolskie Voivodeships the exploitation has not been carried out.
The figure given below shows changes in domestic resources and production of peat in Poland in the years 1995-2022.
The economic resources of peat are determined for 54 deposits and amount to 32.492 million m3, including: 28.787 million m3 (88.6%) of the agriculture peat and 3.705 million m3 (11.4%) of the muds. The resources increased by 0.032 million m3 (0.9%) in comparison with the previous year.
Temporarily, peat is exploited in the vicinities of Bełchatów during the process of making the brown coal beds available for mining. In 2022, from the overburden of the Bełchatów-pole Szczerców deposit, there were 0.014 million m3 of peat obtain (the volume is not included into the data given above and in the Tables 1 and 2).
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
The state of the resources exploration and the state of the deposits development, together with the output amounts from particular deposits are presented in the following tables: Table 2 – the agriculture peat; Table 3 – the therapeutical peat (muds). There are 2 deposits marked with *: Puścizna Wielka and Bronów A, in which both the agriculture peat and the muds have been documented.
The prognostic resources of peat in Poland are assessed to be equal at least 335.95 million m3 within at least 2,059 areas characterized by the deposit potential**. The majority, that is almost 77.2%, is located in the northern part of Poland, within the following Voivodeships: Zachodniopomorskie (8.7%), Pomorskie (28.2%), Kujawsko-Pomorskie (6.3%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (17.9%) and Podlaskie (16.1%). The significant resources base is also located in Lubelskie (10.5%) and Małopolskie (8.0%) Voivodeships. The mentioned above Voivodeships cover 46% of the area of Poland and account for 95.7% of the prognostic resources of peat. Only 4.6% of the prognostic resources is located within the remaining 54% of the country area.
Prepared by: Wojciech Szczygielski
* System Informacji Przestrzennej o Mokradłach Polski; http://www.gis-mokradla.info/html/index.php?page=mokradla, Instytut Technologiczno-Przyrodniczy – Państwowy Instytut Badawczy (the Institute of Technology and Life Sciences – National Research Institute) [in Polish].
** Kasiński J.R., 2020 - "Torf (peat)". In: "Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r." (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 382-386. PIG-PIB, Warszawa [in Polish].