Tiny mosses – big style!
First large scale harvest of cultivated peatmoss worldwide
17/07/2016 It was a global premiere: the first mechanical harvest of cultivated peatmoss ever! At Hankhauser Moor (Lower Saxony), scientists of Greifswald University and staff of the peat company Moorkultur Ramsloh harvested the rare commodity from the joint pilot site. Being precious seed, the mosses were immediately reused and spread out, thus tripling the Sphagnum farming area. Expanding the site to a total ‘business-scale’ size of 13 ha also kicked off the MOOSWEIT-project (see for spectacular pictures the television movie).
Five years ago, the project partners had installed the peatmoss culture on former bog grassland that had been a drained and intensively used meadow for over 50 years. Mosses had established successfully and showed remarkable growth over the years. Peatmosses may be used as substrate in horticulture and thus present an alternative to peat. However, peatmoss biomass is not yet available in sufficient quantities and seed is especially scarce. Therefore, MOOSWEIT investigates large scale cultivation, mechanical harvest and regeneration of the permanent crop. The project is financed by the State of Lower Saxony, the EU (ERDF), and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Moreover, Sphagnum farming allows a sustainable utilisation of rewetted bogs (paludiculture). So far, most peatlands in Germany are being drained for agricultural use. This results in immense emissions of greenhouse gases. In contrast, wet peatlands hardly emit any CO2, filter nutrient-rich water and offer habitats for rare species. For more information on the peatmoss cultivation at Hankhauser Moor see the press release of Fachagentur für nachwachsende Rohstoff (FNR) and www.sphagnumfarming.com.