What distinguishes peat from the soil?

From two plots of land one is in the soil, rich in humus, and the second on the moor. Which one is preferable to choose for a summer holiday? Whoever has any experience on earth, will not hesitate to answer – of course, first! For a beginner gardener useful to know what distinguishes peat from the soil, at least in order to correctly make a soil mix for seedlings.

Note: the presence of a peat layer competent gardener is not frightened, but rather pleased. Stable yields are provided to the owner – of course, with proper cultivation and proper selection of crops.

«The rust of the earth» and «combustible earth»

«Noble rust of the Earth» – briefly and aptly named soil the founder of soil science V. V. Dokuchaev. The main component, without which soil formation is not possible, the vegetation year by year being born and dying. Invertebrates and bacteria, feeding on organic debris decompose them to a state of humic acids. Soil, humus-rich, painted black, is also known as the Chernozem (humus).

Peat is a valuable source of energy. Pliny the Elder in the first century BC mentioned it under the name of «combustible earth». Like soil, peat also forms from plant residues. But not on a hard surface and in the interior of bogs, with an excess of moisture and lack of oxygen.

In a cool climate the vegetation are endemic to decompose completely no time. Gradually, under the pressure of new layers of sod, seams are pressed and go back. There they can remain for thousands of years, almost without change.

Thus, the difference of the peat from the black soil lies in their very definition: the first fossil fuel, the second is the soil.

to content ↑appearance

In both embankments of the substrate is often similar. It is easier to determine by touch what is before you – light and springy peat is difficult to confuse with a heavy, sticky black soil.

Chernozems are typical soil profile: dark on the surface, downward soil lightens gradually and smoothly into the parent rock. The most fertile black soil to two meters, they are rare and are state value; their average power is equal to 30-50 cm

On the territory of Western Siberia found 36 kinds of peat, which vary greatly in color (from yellow to black), structure and thickness. The most common one is the peat swamp origin. The formation in the section consists of a large number of identical fine-fibrous layers, the total thickness can reach tens of meters. Woody peat is homogeneous and ductile, and low-lying, strongly decomposed, black and lumpy.

Opened the peat field on the left (visible layered structure) and the profile of Chernozem on the right

to content ↑Physical properties and composition

Peat is flammable, in a dry condition tends to heat up inside and the ignition (leading to peat fires). Is a valuable energy source in several regions operate boilers and power plants.

During the combustion of peat and only a little ash (5-10 %) as it consists mainly of organic matter. If the natural course of the metamorphosis continued, the current peat layers eventually would have turned into lignite and then into anthracite.

The soil, as any soil composed mainly of mineral substances. After annealing at high temperature, the entire humus fade, and remains about 90 % of the original volume. The rest has a reddish color and powder-like structure, but when wet become properties of clay. Thus, the underlying soil is clay or heavy loam, enriched with humus.

to contents ↑the Difference between peat and humus from the point of view of the agronomist

On a country site will be useful and peat, and topsoil. In the opinion of the grower, most importantly, what is the difference between peat and humus, this way of use: the soil is used as is, as peat requires preliminary preparation. Freshly mined peat incubated from one to three years outdoors in order to reduce its acidity.

Even the prepared peat is not used in its pure form. It is a valuable component of soil mixtures and composts. Add peat to the soil to optimize the mechanical composition and structure of the soil: it makes heavy loam and clay more friable, permeable to roots in sandy soils enhances the accumulation of moisture and increases total fertility. Using peat regulate the acidity of the substrate is especially useful on leached, calcareous soils.

In the photo: 1 – peat, 2 – Chernozem soil

Peat and topsoil mixed in different proportions – usually when growing indoor plants, seedlings or hothouse. Peat fibers are easy to press – they are a convenient and environmentally friendly containers (cups or cubes) for seedlings – when released into the soil, this container becomes part of it.

to content ↑Comparative table



Fossil fuel


Incomplete decomposition of plant remains in a humid environment with lack of oxygen
Full (up to humic acids) decomposition of organic (vegetable and animal) substances in the upper layer of soil, with the participation of invertebrates and protozoa


Intact the Deposit consists of a set of thin, equal layers. In loose form may resemble mold, but differs fibrous structure and lighter in weight. Color, usually in yellow and brown colors, rarely – black.

Saturated with water the sponge-like peat
Soil profile unploughed soil has a distinctive colour – very dark in the upper layers, from top to bottom it gradually cleanse.

When mixed with water becomes a sticky, because it contains clay particles


Flammable and prone to spontaneous combustion. Burns almost completely.

Has an acidic (low-lying) or slightly acidic (horse) pH reaction
Non-flammable, on the contrary – they can extinguish the flames, as any soil.

Typical soil pH-neutral


Energy – as fuel.

In rural and private sector – as a component of soil mixtures and composts, organic fertilizer. As absorbent bedding for animals.

In construction as an insulator.

As a natural filter for water treatment… and more in many areas
Universal, very fertile substrate for the cultivation of vegetable crops (open, closed ground, container and others). Particularly significant for agriculture

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