Peat is an organic matter of the Quaternary age, most often Holocene. It is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation. The process of its origin of peat requires high groundwater level and acidic and anaerobic conditions which inhibit decay of plant material.
According to genetic features there are three types of peat distinguished: low, high and medium. The richest in food ingredients is low peat occurring in river valleys and lake edges.
According to the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of the 22nd of December 2011 (number of Polish act: Dz. U. Nr 291, poz. 1712.) the limit values of the parameters that defines the deposit are:
- peat deposit: minimum deposit thickness 1 m; - maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit 0,5; - maximum ash content - 30 %.
- therapeutical peat (muds) deposits - minimum deposit thickness 1 m; - maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit 0.5; - maximum organic matter content in dry mass – 25 %;
- minimum grade of decomposition – 30 % (H3); - bacteriological valuation (coli titer) ≥1.0; - coli titer perfringens ≥1.0;
- mud silts deposits - minimum deposit thickness 1 m; - maximum ratio of overburden thickness to mineral deposit 0.5; - maximum organic matter content in dry mass – 80 %; - minimum grade of decomposition – 30 % (H3); - bacteriological valuation (coli titer) ≥1.0; - coli titer perfringens ≥1.0.
Peat is used in gardening and in agriculture as organic fertilizer and a medium added to a soil to improve its physical properties. It is also used in balneology (peat baths and poultices and mud wraps), medicine and therapeutics. Peat is no longer used as a fuel in Poland. Peats used in medicine are therapeutical muds which have to be clean microbiologically, with high content of active organic compounds, advanced decay of organic matter, smooth mud consistency, moisture content over 75 % and should not be affected by freezing and defreezing.
More than 50 % of peatlands are found in northern part of Poland. They cover an area of about 1.2 million hectares (around 4.2 % of area of the country) and their volume is estimated at over 17 billion m3. Up to the present, almost 50,000 peatlands have been catalogued by the Institute for Land Reclamation and Grassland Farming. According to these records, about 36 % of the catalogued peatlands form a potential resource basis for peat harvesting.
There are most important peat deposits (with muds marked out) presented on the map.
In 2013, anticipated economic resources of peat were estimated at 80.21 million m3, increasing by about 1.23 million m3 (1.6 %) in relation to the previous year.
There were 12 new deposits documented in 2013 with the total anticipated economic resources equal 2.12 m3 – 3 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship (Krowie Bagno VII, Stara Wieś, Stara Wieś I), 2 deposits in Lubuskie Voivodeship (Konotop IV, Kosierz-Trzebule), 2 deposits in Podlaskie Voivodeship (Klejniki 5, Podsokołda 1), 1 deposit in Pomorskie Voivodeship (Wieliszewo I), 1 deposit in Śląskie Voivodeship (Branica), 3 deposits in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship (Gorszewice AW 2, Kuźnica Zbąska RG IV, Kuźnica Zbąska SJ). Podsokołda 1 and Wieliszewo I deposits were allocated from already docuemnted deposits – Podsokołda and Wieliszewo.
There were 6 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” in 2013 - Chojno dz.171,6 and Krowie Bagno III in Lubelskie Voivodeship, Danielów I in Łódzkie Voivodeship, Konierniki in Mazowieckie Voivodeship, Rzemień in Podkarpackie Voivodeship and Nienawiszcz FP in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship. Total anticipated economic resources of these deposits amounted to 0.19 million m3.
The output of peat amounted to 1,205.24 thousand m3 in 2013 and decreased by 15.50 thousand m3 (1.27 %) in comparison with the previous year. The largest amounts of peat are being produced in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship (366.20 thousand m3 which accounts for 30.4 % of total domestic production), Mazowieckie Voivodeship (193.95 thousand m3 – 16.1 %), Lubelskie Voivodeship (184.82 thousand m3 – 15.3 %), Warmińsko-mazurskie Voivodeship (183.28 thousand m3 – 15.2 %), Podlaskie Voivodeship (101.31 thousand m3 – 8.4 %) and Pomorskie Voivodeship (89.16 thousand m3 – 7.4 %).
The therapeutical peat (muds) production was carried out in 10 places in Poland and amounted in 2013 to 10.08 thousand m3. It accounts for only 0.8 % fo total domestic production but it fully covers demand.
From the brown coal deposit Bełchatów-pole Szczerców there were 4.66 thousand m3 of peat produced in 2013.
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
Prepared by: Agnieszka Wałkuska