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 1st of July 2015 (number of Polish act: Dz. U. 2015, poz. 987) the limit values of the parameters that define the deposit are (Appendix 8):
- 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 an organic fertilizer and a medium added to 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 2015, anticipated economic resources of peat were estimated at 93.32 million m3, decreasing by about 1.40 million m3 (1.4%) in relation to the previous year table 1.
There were 5 new deposits (for agriculture use) documented in 2015: 2 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship – Andrzejów II and Michałów; 1 deposit in Podlaskie Voivodeship – Silikaty; 3 deposits in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship – Jabłonna JS II, Ratowice and Stare Dzierzążno. The total resources of these deposits are equal 0.230 million m3.
There were 10 deposits crossed out from “The balance…” (-0.137 million m3) in 2015, including: 2 deposits in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship (Wojdal V and Sokołowo Parcele), 4 deposits in Lubelskie Voivodeship (Czarnowo, Wilkołaz, Krowie Bagno VI, Krowie Bagno VII), 3 deposits in Lubuskie Voivodeship (Trzebule, Lgiń V, Konotop III) and 1 deposit in Wielkopolskie Voivodeship (Długa Goślina). All of these deposits were depleted and remaining resources did not match qualitative requirements or were rated as losses.
The output of peat amounted to 1.285 million m3 in 2015 and increased by 0.040 million m3 (3.3%) in comparison with the previous year (table 2).
The largest amounts of peat are being produced in: Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship (0.348 million m3 which accounts for 27.1% of total domestic production), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship (0.232 million m3 – 18.1%), Lubelskie Voivodeship (0.190 million m3 – 14.8%), Mazowieckie Voivodeship (0.164 million m3 – 12.8%), Podlaskie Voivodeship (0.118 million m3 – 9.2%), Lubuskie Voivodeship (0.085 million m3 – 6.6%), Pomorskie Voivodeship (0.078 million m3 – 6.1%), Wielkopolskie Voivodeship (0.050 million m3 – 3.9%) and Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship (0.011 million m3 – 0.8%). In Małopolskie, Łódzkie, Podkarpackie and Śląskie Voivodeships the output is low – from a dozen or so to several hundred thousand m3. In Dolnosląskie, Opolskie and Świętokrzyskie Voivodeships peat is not being produced.
The therapeutical peat (muds) production was carried out in 10 places in Poland and amounted in 2015 to 7.67 thousand m3. It accounts for only 0.6% fo total domestic production but it fully covers demand.
Economic resources of peat documented for 59 deposits amounted to 34.80 million m3 which accounts for 73.5% of anticipated economic resources of these deposits. The resources decreased by 1.59 million m3 (4.4%) in comparison with the previous year.
There was not peat production from the brown coal deposits recorded in 2015.
Table 1 shows resources and the current state of exploration and development of peat deposits.
Prepared by: Wojciech Szczygielski