Substrates based on sphagnum peat moss is the key for growing success.
Hundreds of substrate recipes have been developed to meet the needs of any plant
Of all organic materials, peat is the most used substrate constituent in horticulture. The leading peat-production countries are Finland, Ireland, Germany, Baltic countries and Canada. Commercial applications include lawn and garden soil amendments, seedling and potting soils, tree nurseries, soft fruits. The extensive use of peat as a basic and main component of substrates is due to its excellent chemical, biological, and physical properties with low nutrient content, low pH, a unique combination of high water-holding capacity by high air space and drainage characteristics, light weight, and freedom from pests and diseases. The unique microporous properties of Sphagnum peat and its resistance to degradation are matched by few other growing medium constituents. However, peat is a limited resource with a great demand, and the extraction of peat bogs is under strict control.
Coarse, medium and fine – 3 main types of substrates.
Loose substrates can be divided roughly into three different types according to fraction size or grade: coarse, medium coarse and fine.
For different types of substrates
Fine fraction substrates.
The growing media has a small particle size which is optimal for use in plant propagation in trays and small pots for seedling and sowing purposes.
Medium fraction substrates.
The substrate has larger particles usually 7-15-22 mm and can be used in medium sized pots (7-15cm). The larger particles provide some structure to the growing media needed for the medium sized pots.
Coarse fraction substrates.
The mix has much bigger particles for use in larger pots and containers. Such containers require a coarse substrate with the very big particles which provide the necessary structure for the mix.
Potentially usable total peat stock, provided that the moisture content of which exceeds 40%, the territory of Latvia is around 1.5 billion tons.
Peat stocks are constantly recovering, during the year. Under these conditions, the peat layer increases by 0.5 to 4 mm, which corresponds to about 0.7-1 ml t
peat extraction – natural peat growth over the year exceeds the peat extraction during the year.
Peat is divided by the degree of degradation after von Posta’s western countries scale (H), the peat is broken down from H1 to H10. The most demanded is the high-type peat, the most high-grade peat top layers, characterized by the lowest degree of decomposition, which, according to the von Posta scale, corresponds to H2-H4, this peat is used in crop production. Lower upper peat layers characterized by a higher degree of decomposition – H5-H8, mostly used to improve fertility of the growing media amd water retention capabilities.
The process of humification of the organic substance promotes the fertility of the substrate – during this time, the microporosity of the soil increases, thus increasing the water capacity that improves the soil characteristics and promotes the development of the bog vegetation. The physical properties of peat include the degree of decomposition, water content, density and other properties. The degree of degradation of peat varies greatly; the low peat is, in most cases, the highest degree of degradation, although the rate of accumulation of peat is the slowest.
Degree of decomposition
The degree of decomposition varies from 5 to 70%, which is considered to be strongly decomposed peat mass that has broken down by more than 40%. In Latvia, due to the seasonality of the climate, peat has, in most cases, a high degree of decomposition, however, it should be taken into account that the high-type peat will not be split by more than 25% due to its characteristics.
Substrates main ingredients.
AreaPeat substrates mostly based on classic white and white/brown Sphagnum peat. The company also pays great attention to other types of peat and peat like particles, which can significantly improve the soil’s physical and agrochemical properties, like black and/or humuspeat, fermentated coniferous peel mulch, proceeded sod peat, etc. All ingredients of these quality substrates have ability to hold water and nutrients, it saves fertilisers and water, contains naturally occurring biological active agents. Due to its special structure it provides roots with air.
Stable material harvested from bogs.
Peat moss growing medium holds water and nutrients, provide gas and nutrient exchange, and give an anchor point for a plant’s roots
Sphagnum peat moss as a component of horticultural growing media is very important because of the unique main properties of the sphagnum cells to hold and release water.
The sphagnum cells are thin-walled cells with large cavities and their function is to absorb and transport water. An important characteristic of the sphagnum cells is that they have lignified walls. These prevent the cells from collapsing when they dry out. By keeping peat suitably wet, optimum conditions of moisture and aeration can be maintained.
The functions of quality growing medium are:
- water reservoir for plant uptake,
- nutrient holding/exchange system,
- place for gaseous exchange for root systems and an anchor point for a plant’s roots.
Since different types of peat moss have different natural properties, the best results in the cultivation of certain crops are achieved by mixing together raw materials with desirable properties. It is very important for the manufacturer of substrates to have access to the most demanded and qualitative types of peat for the production of such professional mixes.
Substrates and potting soils produced from selected raw peat moss with added lime, crop specific NPK fertilizers, microelements and wetting agent.
Primary plant macronutrients:
Nitrogen: promotes healthy and fast vegetative growth
Phosphorus: promotes root growth, flowering and fruiting, and disease resistance
Potassium: helps with fruit ripening, disease resistance, and overall plant health
Secondary plant macronutrients:
Magnesium: helps plants process and utilize calcium, promotes vegetative growth and sugar formation
Calcium: supports structural integrity of plants, new cellular growth, and disease resistance
Sulfur: helps fruits and seeds mature and promotes the growth of green leaves
Micronutrients are trace elements that help promote green leaf growth as well as starch formation. These include boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.
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