CANAPE: A new dawn for Barver Moor

27 November 2019 - Published by Harry Mach
Over the last 20 years of drainage at Barver Moor, the land has fallen by a 30 - 50cm as the peat has degraded, boiling away into the atmosphere. This represents both a major source of CO2 emissions, but also a rapidly shortening expected productive life of the site. On the previous trend, areas of this this land would have lost all potential for productive use within 10 years, as the peat would have degraded away to nothing, leaving the underlying sand exposed.

However, this month the first works began in converting the site back to a productive use, with the construction of the first sphagnum farming polder on the site. This innovative form of agriculture will allow this land to remain productive far into the future.

The sphagnum moss grown here will have a large range of potential uses, from high-end replacement for peat based compost, for decorations, and potentially even for medicines. The site can also be a source of material for rewilding projects throughout the region.  As a side product, sundew plants tend to grow as a weed in these fields, and these can be harvested for medicinal purposes as an extra form of income.

This winter will see work on 3 elements of the site;

  1. Reservoir – We will build a 3500 m3 capacity reservoir. This will guarantee that the sphagnum lawn can be kept supplied with a steady amount of water, even during dry summers, without over extracting from local water bodies.

  2. Electricity – Construction of new power capacity to provide for the pumps necessary to control the water flow.

  3. Polders – Construction of the irrigation ditches, and removal of the nutrient rich topsoil. This will keep the water in the sphagnum field, and allow for management of the water table

If all goes well the sphagnum lawn will be sown in the spring, and within a few years the site will be ready for the first harvests. Technology is developing rapidly in this area, so we don’t yet know what the harvest will look like.

The site will go on to be a showcase for a potential of future peatland agricultural in an area where some farmers have felt that there is a lack of future. Local farmers are being included and regularly invited to visit the site to see and discuss progress. The message is that there is a clear future for farming in these areas, and there is no need to abandon farms.

For more detailed designs on what we will are constructing, please see the site plan here. 

Below - Farmers visited the site this summer to discuss its potential future. 

Farmers on the site this summer to discuss the future of farming in the area