DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A sample of a commercial peat-based compost for horticultural use. The long edge of the picture represents 8cm. Peat consists of the remains of moss plants, principally Sphagnum spp., that have been preserved in anaerobic conditions in bogs over long periods of time. Peat is still used for electricity generation; its extraction commercially can result in erosion of bog habitats, and the rate of replacement of the peat is very slow. For this reason compost manufacturers now incorporate substitute materials in their products. Peat has many desirable horticultural qualities however; it is light in weight, clean to use, water retentive, and high in humus. The picture shows that there is very little mineral material present in the compost. Peat is of low intrinsic fertility, and plants grown in peat composts need additional artificial fertilisers in order to sustain their growth.
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