Sphagnum Farming in Canada: State of Knowledge

Mélina Guêné-Nanchen
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In light of the many potential benefits of Sphagnum farming and interest from the Canadian horticultural peat industry, some research projects to test small-scale Sphagnum farming approaches were launched in the early 2000s, in partnership with the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG), the Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment (IRDA), VALORĒS, and the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSMPA). The encouraging results of these projects led to a first experimental Sphagnum farming site being set up in New Brunswick, from 2006 to 2012, with industry partners. Subsequently, two other experimental sites were established, one in Quebec and one in New Brunswick, in 2013 and 2014. These included an optimized irrigation system and improved hydrological controls. This document aims to review the knowledge that has been acquired since the first Sphagnum farming sites were created, bring together the expertise developed during that time, and summarize all the concepts needed to establish and operate a farming site. Given that experience with certain aspects of Sphagnum farming is still limited in Canada, we will also present some of the knowledge gained by German teams. The information presented here will need to be updated as research and practices move forward. This document first introduces basic concepts about Sphagnum farming, including its benefits and the potential uses of Sphagnum fibres. This is followed by the various aspects to consider when planning a farming site, namely, the site characteristics and the sources of plant material. We will address the preparation of the farming site, encompassing all aspects of basin development, such as implementing the irrigation system and reintroducing plant material. Then, maintenance and monitoring of the farming site will be presented, followed by harvesting, Sphagnum fibre conditioning, and the various resources needed. The conclusion will provide an overview of the key elements along with some useful references.