Definition of Peat

Soper and Osbon2 define peat as “the partly carbonized organic residuum produced by an arrest in the decomposition of roots, trunks of trees, twigs, seeds, shrubs, mosses, and other vegetation covered or saturated with water.”

They add:

“It contains a large proportion of the carbon of the original vegetable matter, and its vegetal structure is generally visible without the microscope. It is usually acidic, and it contains much less inorganic than organic matter. In fact, some pure peats contain less than 4 per cent of inorganic material.”

Peat will ignite and burn freely when dry.

Waksman3 summarizes a long series of researches on peat and defines it as follows:

“Peat is a layer of the earth’s crust consisting largely of organic matter, which has originated as a result of incomplete and partial disintegration of the various constituents of the natural plant materials due to the anaerobic processes . . .

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