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 2014, anticipated economic resources of peat were estimated at 94.72 million m3, increasing by about 14.50 million m3 (18.1 %) in relation to the previous year.
There were 15 new deposits documented in 2014 with the total anticipated economic resources equal to 15.690 million m3 – 2 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship (Kolechowice IV, Wilkołaz I), 1 deposit in Lubuskie Voivodeship (Grabin I), 2 deposits in Mazowieckie Voivodeship (Szawły, Szawły 1), 2 deposits in Pomorskie Voivodeship (Cecenowo, Objazda), 8 deposits in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship (Bucz LG, Bucz KI, Górsko AS-I, Górsko AS-III, Górsko AS-IV, Miastko AS-I, Górsko AS-II, Kuźnica Zbąska KW II).
There were 9 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” (-0.196 million m3) – in 2014 including: 2 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship (Kolechowice III, Rudnik I), 1 deposit in Lubuskie Voivodeship (Grabin), 3 deposits in Mazowieckie Voivodeship (Pieróg, Pieróg II, Pieróg III) and 3 deposists in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship (Łysinin – pole C, Mirosławiec JS, Mirosławiec JS I).
The output of peat amounted to 1.245 million m3 in 2014 and increased by 0.04 million m3 (3.3 %) in comparison with the previous year.
The largest amounts of peat are being produced in: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship (0.322 million m3 which accounts for 25.9 % of total domestic production), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship (0.200 million m3 – 16.1 %), Mazowieckie Voivodeship (0.187 million m3 – 15.0 %), Lubelskie Voivodeship (0.186 million m3 – 15.0 %), Podlaskie Voivodeship (0.110 million m3 – 8.8 %) and Pomorskie Voivodeship (0.093 million m3 – 7.4 %). These 6 Voivodeships account for 88.2 % of domestic production. In Dolnośląskie, Opolskie and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship peat is not being produced.
The therapeutical peat (muds) production was carried out in 10 places in Poland and amounted in 2014 to 7.58 thousand m3. It accounts for only 0.6 % fo total domestic production but it fully covers demand.
Economic resources of peat documented for 57 deposits amounted to 36.39 million m3 which accounts for 75.1 % of anticipated economic resources of these deposits. The resources increased by 5.191 million m3 (16.6 %) in comparison with the previous year.
From the brown coal deposit Bełchatów-pole Szczerców there were 2.96 thousand m3 of peat produced in 2014.
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
Prepared by: Wojciech Szczygielski