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Title: Peat and its Uses as Fertilizer and Fuel
Author: Johnson, Samuel W. (Samuel William), 1830-1909
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peat and its Uses as Fertilizer and Fuel" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

(CHLA), Cornell University)









  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by


  At the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
  for the Southern District of New-York.

  15 Vandewater street N. Y.






  S. W. J.


  Introduction                                                         vii


  1. What is Peat?                                                       9
  2. Conditions of its Formation                                         9
  3. Different Kinds of Peat                                            14
        Swamp Muck                                                      17
        Salt Mud                                                        18
  4. Chemical Characters and Composition of Peat                        18
     a. Organic or combustible part                                     19
        Ulmic and Humic Acids                                           19
        Ulmin and Humin--Crenic and Apocrenic Acids                     20
        Ulmates and Humates                                             21
        Crenates and Apocrenates                                        22
        Gein and Geic Acid--Elementary Composition of Peat              23
        Ultimate Composition of the Constituents of Peat                25
     b. Mineral Part--Ashes                                             25
  5. Chemical Changes that occur in the Formation of Peat               26


  1. Characters that adapt Peat for Agricultural Use                    28
     A. Physical or Amending Characters                                 28
        I. Absorbent Power for Water, as Liquid and Vapor               31
        II.   "        "   for Ammonia                                  32
        III. Influence in Disintegrating the Soil                       34
        IV. Influence on the Temperature of Soils                       37
     B. Fertilizing Characters                                          38
        I. Fertilizing Effects of the Organic Matters, excluding
           Nitrogen                                                     38
           1. Organic Matters as Direct Food to Plants                  38
           2. Organic Matters as Indirect Food to Plants                40
           3. Nitrogen, including Ammonia and Nitric Acid               42
        II. Fertilizing Effects of the Ashes of Peat                    46
        III. Peculiarities in the Decay of Peat                         50
        IV. Comparison of Peat with Stable Manure                       51
    2. Characters of Peat that are detrimental, or that need
       correction                                                       54
        I. Possible Bad Effects on Heavy Soils                          54
        II. Noxious Ingredients                                         55
           a. Vitriol Peats                                             55
           b. Acidity--c. Resinous Matters                              57
    3. Preparation of Peat for Agricultural Use                         57
           a. Excavation                                                57
           b. Exposure, or Seasoning                                    59
           c. Composting                                                62
              Compost with Stable Manure                                63
                 "     "   Night Soil                                   68
                 "     "   Guano                                        69
                 "     "   Fish and other Animal Matters                70
                 "     "   Potash-lye & Soda-ash; Wood-ashes,
                           Shell-marl, Lime                             72
                 "     "   Salt and Lime Mixture                        73
                 "     "   Carbonate of Lime, Mortar, etc               75
    4. The Author's Experiments with Peat Composts                      77
    5. Examination of Peat with reference to its Agricultural Value     81
    6. Composition of Connecticut Peats                                 84
       Method of Analysis                                               86
       Tables of Composition                                      88-89-90


    1. Kinds of Peat that Make the Best Fuel                            92
    2. Density of Peat                                                  95
    3. Heating Power of Peat as Compared with Wood and Anthracite       96
    4. Modes of Burning Peat                                           102
    5. Burning of Broken Peat                                          103
    6. Hygroscopic Water of Peat-fuel                                  104
    7. Shrinkage                                                       105
    8. Time of Excavation and Drying                                   105
    9. Drainage                                                        106
   10. Cutting of Peat for Fuel--a. Preparations for Cutting           107
       b. Cutting by Hand; with Common Spade; German Peat Knife        108
             "    with Irish Slane--System employed in East
          Friesland                                                    109
       c. Machines for Cutting Peat; Brosowsky's Machine; Lepreux's
          Machine                                                      113
   11. Dredging of Peat                                                115
   12. Moulding of Peat                                                116
   13. Preparation of Peat-fuel by Machinery, etc                      116
       A. Condensation by Pressure                                     116
          a. Of Fresh Peat                                             116
                   Mannhardt's Method                                  117
                   The Neustadt Method                                 119
          b. Of Air-dried Peat--Lithuanian Process                     120
          c. Of Hot-dried Peat--Gwynne's Method; Exter's Method        121
              Elsberg's Process                                         125
       B. Condensation without Pressure                                127
          a. Of Earthy Peat                                            128
             Challeton's Method, at Mennecy, France                    128
                 "         "        Langenberg, Prussia                130
             Roberts'      "        Pekin, N. Y.                       132
             Siemens'      "        Boeblingen, Wirtemberg             134
          b. Condensation of Fibrous Peat--Weber's Method; Hot-drying  135
             Gysser's Method and Machine                               140
          c. Condensation of Peat of all Kinds--Schlickeysen's
             Machine                                                   144
             Leavitt's Peat Mill, Lexington, Mass                      146
             Ashcroft & Betteley's Machine                             148
             Versmann's Machine, Great Britain                         150
             Buckland's    "          "                                151
   14. Artificial Drying of Peat                                       152
   15. Peat Coal                                                       157
   16. Metallurgical Uses of Peat                                      162
   17. Peat as a Source of Illuminating Gas                            165
   18. Examination of Peat with regard to its Value as Fuel            167


In the years 1857 and 1858, the writer, in the capacity of Chemist to
the State Agricultural Society of Connecticut, was commissioned to make
investigations into the agricultural uses of the deposits of peat or
swamp muck which are abundant in this State; and, in 1858, he submitted
a Report to Henry A. Dyer, Esq., Corresponding Secretary of the Society,
embodying his conclusions. In the present work the valuable portions of
that Report have been recast, and, with addition of much new matter,
form Parts I. and II. The remainder of the book, relating to the
preparation and employment of peat for fuel, &c., is now for the first
time published, and is intended to give a faithful account of the
results of the experience that has been acquired in Europe, during the
last twenty-five years, in regard to the important subject of which it

The employment of peat as an amendment and absorbent for agricultural
purposes has proved to be of great advantage in New-England farming.

It is not to be doubted, that, as fuel, it will be even more valuable
than as a fertilizer. Our peat-beds, while they do not occupy so much
territory as to be an impediment and a reproach to our country, as they
have been to Ireland, are yet so abundant and so widely
distributed--occurring from the Atlantic to the Missouri, along and
above the 40th parallel, and appearing on our Eastern Coast at least as
far South as North Carolina[1]--as to present, at numberless points,
material, which, sooner or later, will serve us most usefully when other
fuel has become scarce and costly.

The high prices which coal and wood have commanded for several years
back have directed attention to peat fuel; and, such is the adventurous
character of American enterprise, it cannot be doubted that we shall
rapidly develop and improve the machinery for producing it. As has
always been the case, we shall waste a vast deal of time and money in
contriving machines that violate every principle of mechanism and of
economy; but the results of European invention furnish a safe basis from
which to set out, and we have among us the genius and the patience that
shall work out the perfect method.

It may well be urged that a good degree of caution is advisable in
entering upon the peat enterprise. In this country we have exhaustless
mines of the best coal, which can be afforded at a very low rate, with
which other fuel must compete. In Germany, where the best methods of
working peat have originated, fuel is more costly than here; and a
universal and intense economy there prevails, of which we, as a people,
have no conception.

If, as the Germans themselves admit, the peat question there is still a
nice one as regards the test of dollars and cents, it is obvious, that,
for a time, we must "hasten slowly." It is circumstances that make peat,
and gold as well, remunerative or otherwise; and these must be well
considered in each individual case. Peat is the name for a material that
varies extremely in its quality, and this quality should be investigated
carefully before going to work upon general deductions.

In my account of the various processes for working peat by machinery,
such data as I have been able to find have been given as to cost of
production. These data are however very imperfect, and not altogether
trustworthy, in direct application to American conditions. The cheapness
of labor in Europe is an item to our disadvantage in interpreting
foreign estimates. I incline to the belief that this is more than offset
among us by the quality of our labor, by the energy of our
administration, by the efficiency of our overseeing, and, especially, by
our greater skill in the adaptation of mechanical appliances. While
counselling caution, I also recommend enterprise in developing our
resources in this important particular; knowing full well, however, that
what I can say in its favor will scarcely add to the impulse already
apparent among my countrymen.


_Sheffield Scientific School_,}
_Yale College, June, 1866._   }


[1] The great Dismal Swamp is a grand peat bog, and doubtless other of
the swamps of the coast, as far south as Florida and the Gulf, are of
the same character.



1. _What is Peat?_

By the general term Peat, we understand the organic matter or vegetable
soil of bogs, swamps, beaver-meadows and salt-marshes.

It consists of substances that have resulted from the decay of many
generations of aquatic or marsh plants, as mosses, sedges, coarse
grasses, and a great variety of shrubs, mixed with more or less mineral
substances, derived from these plants, or in many cases blown or washed
in from the surrounding lands.

2. _The conditions under which Peat is formed._

In this country the production of Peat from fallen and decaying plants,
depends upon the presence of so much water as to cover or saturate the
vegetable matters, and thereby hinder the full access of air. Saturation
with water also has the effect to maintain the decaying matters at a
low temperature, and by these two causes in combination, the process of
decay is made to proceed with great slowness, and the solid products of
such slow decay, are compounds that themselves resist decay, and hence
they accumulate.

In the United States there appears to be nothing like the extensive
_moors_ or _heaths_, that abound in Ireland, Scotland, the north of
England, North Germany, Holland, and the elevated plains of Bavaria,
which are mostly level or gently sloping tracts of country, covered with
peat or turf to a depth often of 20, and sometimes of 40, or more, feet.
In this country it is only in low places, where streams become
obstructed and form swamps, or in bays and inlets on salt water, where
the flow of the tide furnishes the requisite moisture, that our
peat-beds occur. If we go north-east as far as Anticosti, Labrador, or
Newfoundland, we find true moors. In these regions have been found a few
localities of the _Heather_ (_Calluna vulgaris_), which is so
conspicuous a plant on the moors of Europe, but which is wanting in the
peat-beds of the United States.

In the countries above named, the weather is more uniform than here, the
air is more moist, and the excessive heat of our summers is scarcely
known. Such is the greater humidity of the atmosphere that the
bog-mosses,--the so-called _Sphagnums_,--which have a wonderful avidity
for moisture, (hence used for packing plants which require to be kept
moist on journeys), are able to keep fresh and in growth during the
entire summer. These mosses decay below, and throw out new vegetation
above, and thus produce a bog, especially wherever the earth is springy.
It is in this way that in those countries, moors and peat-bogs actually
grow, increasing in depth and area, from year to year, and raise
themselves above the level of the surrounding country.

Prof. Marsh informs the writer that he has seen in Ireland, near the
north-west coast, a granite hill, capped with a peat-bed, several feet
in thickness. In the Bavarian highlands similar cases have been
observed, in localities where the atmosphere and the ground are kept
moist enough for the growth of moss by the extraordinary prevalence of
fogs. Many of the European moors rise more or less above the level of
their borders towards the centre, often to a height of 10 or 20 and
sometimes of 30 feet. They are hence known in Germany as _high_ moors
(_Hochmoore_) to distinguish from the level or dishing _meadow-moors_,
(_Wiesenmoore_). The peat-producing vegetation of the former is chiefly
moss and heather, of the latter coarse grasses and sedges.

In Great Britain the reclamation of a moor is usually an expensive
operation, for which not only much draining, but actual cutting out and
burning of the compact peat is necessary.

The warmth of our summers and the dryness of our atmosphere prevent the
accumulation of peat above the highest level of the standing water of
our marshes, and so soon as the marshes are well drained, the peat
ceases to form, and in most cases the swamp may be easily converted into
good meadow land.

Springy hill-sides, which in cooler, moister climates would become
moors, here dry up in summer to such an extent that no peat can be
formed upon them.

As already observed, our peat is found in low places. In many instances
its accumulation began by the obstruction of a stream. To that
remarkable creature, the beaver, we owe many of our peat-bogs. These
animals, from time immemorial, have built their dams across rivers so as
to flood the adjacent forest. In the rich leaf-mold at the water's
verge, and in the cool shade of the standing trees, has begun the growth
of the sphagnums, sedges, and various purely aquatic plants. These in
their annual decay have shortly filled the shallow borders of the
stagnating water, and by slow encroachments, going on through many
years, they have occupied the deeper portions, aided by the trees,
which, perishing, give their fallen branches and trunks, towards
completing the work. The trees decay and fall, and become entirely
converted into peat; or, as not unfrequently happens, especially in case
of resinous woods, preserve their form, and to some extent their

In a similar manner, ponds and lakes are encroached upon; or, if
shallow, entirely filled up by peat deposits. In the Great Forest of
Northern New York, the voyager has abundant opportunity to observe the
formation of peat-swamps, both as a result of beaver dams, and of the
filling of shallow ponds, or the narrowing of level river courses. The
formation of peat in water of some depth greatly depends upon the growth
of aquatic plants, other than those already mentioned. In our Eastern
States the most conspicuous are the Arrow-head, (_Sagittaria_); the
Pickerel Weed, (_Pontederia_;) Duck Meat, (_Lemna_;) Pond Weed,
(_Potamogeton_;) various _Polygonums_, brothers of Buckwheat and
Smart-weed; and especially the Pond Lilies, _(Nymphoea_ and _Nuphar_.)
The latter grow in water four or five feet deep, their leaves and long
stems are thick and fleshy, and their roots, which fill the oozy mud,
are often several inches in diameter. Their decaying leaves and stems,
and their huge roots, living or dead, accumulate below and gradually
raise the bed of the pond. Their living foliage which often covers the
water almost completely for acres, becomes a shelter or support for
other more delicate aquatic plants and sphagnums, which, creeping out
from the shore, may so develop as to form a floating carpet, whereon the
leaves of the neighboring wood, and dust scattered by the wind collect,
bearing down the mass, which again increases above, or is reproduced
until the water is filled to its bottom with vegetable matter.

It is not rare to find in our bogs, patches of moss of considerable area
concealing deep water with a treacherous appearance of solidity, as the
hunter and botanist have often found to their cost. In countries of more
humid atmosphere, they are more common and attain greater dimensions. In
Zealand the surfaces of ponds are so frequently covered with floating
beds of moss, often stout enough to bear a man, that they have there
received a special name "_Hangesak_." In the Russian Ural, there occur
lakes whose floating covers of moss often extend five or six feet above
the water, and are so firm that roads are made across them, and forests
of large fir-trees find support. These immense accumulations are in fact
floating moors, consisting entirely of peat, save the living vegetation
at the surface.

Sometimes these floating peat-beds, bearing trees, are separated by
winds from their connection with the shore, and become swimming peat
islands. In a small lake near Eisenach, in Central Germany, is a
swimming island of this sort. Its diameter is 40 rods, and it consists
of a felt-like mass of peat, three to five feet in depth, covered above
by sphagnums and a great variety of aquatic plants. A few birches and
dwarf firs grow in this peat, binding it together by their roots, and
when the wind blows, they act as sails, so that the island is constantly
moving about upon the lake.

On the Neusiedler lake, in Hungary, is said to float a peat island
having an area of six square miles, and on lakes of the high Mexican
Plateau are similar islands which, long ago, were converted in fruitful

3. _The different kinds of Peat._

Very great differences in the characters of the deposits in our
peat-beds are observable. These differences are partly of color, some
peats being gray, others red, others again black; the majority, when
dry, possess a dark brown-red or snuff color. They also vary remarkably
in weight and consistency. Some are compact, destitute of fibres or
other traces of the vegetation from which they have been derived, and on
drying, shrink greatly and yield tough dense masses which burn readily,
and make an excellent fuel. Others again are light and porous, and
remain so on drying; these contain intermixed vegetable matter that is
but little advanced in the peaty decomposition. Some peats are almost
entirely free from mineral matters, and on burning, leave but a few _per
cent._ of ash, others contain considerable quantities of lime or iron,
in chemical combination, or of sand and clay that have been washed in
from the hills adjoining the swamps. As has been observed, the peat of
some swamps is mostly derived from mosses, that of others originates
largely from grasses; some contain much decayed wood and leaves, others
again are free from these.

In the same swamp we usually observe more or less of all these
differences. We find the surface peat is light and full of partly
decayed vegetation, while below, the deposits are more compact. We
commonly can trace distinct strata or layers of peat, which are often
very unlike each other in appearance and quality, and in some cases the
light and compact layers alternate so that the former are found below
the latter.

The light and porous kinds of peat appear in general to be formed in
shallow swamps or on the surface of bogs, where there is considerable
access of air to the decaying matters, while the compacter, older, riper
peats are found at a depth, and seem to have been formed beneath the
low water mark, in more complete exclusion of the atmosphere, and under
a considerable degree of pressure.

The nature of the vegetation that flourishes in a bog, has much effect
on the character of the peat. The peats chiefly derived from mosses that
have grown in the full sunlight, have a yellowish-red color in their
upper layers, which usually becomes darker as we go down, running
through all shades of brown until at a considerable depth it is black.
Peats produced principally from grasses are grayish in appearance at the
surface, being full of silvery fibres--the skeletons of the blades of
grasses and sedges, while below they are commonly black.

_Moss peat_ is more often fibrous in structure, and when dried forms
somewhat elastic masses. _Grass peat_, when taken a little below the
surface, is commonly destitute of fibres; when wet, is earthy in its
look, and dries to dense hard lumps.

Where mosses and grasses have grown together simultaneously in the same
swamp, the peat is modified in its characters accordingly. Where, as may
happen, grass succeeds moss, or moss succeeds grass, the different
layers reveal their origin by their color and texture. At considerable
depths, however, where the peat is very old, these differences nearly or
entirely disappear.

The geological character of a country is not without influence on the
kind of peat. It is only in regions where the rocks are granitic or
silicious, where, at least, the surface waters are free or nearly free
from lime, that _mosses_ make the bulk of the peat.

In limestone districts, peat is chiefly formed from _grasses_ and

This is due to the fact that mosses (sphagnums) need little lime for
their growth, while the grasses require much; aquatic grasses cannot,
therefore, thrive in pure waters, and in waters containing the requisite
proportion of lime, grasses and sedges choke out the moss.

The accidental admixtures of soil often greatly affect the appearance
and value of a peat, but on the whole it would appear that its quality
is most influenced by the degree of decomposition it has been subjected

In meadows and marshes, overflowed by the ocean tides, we have
_salt-peat_, formed from Sea-weeds (_Algæ_,) Salt-wort (_Salicornia_,)
and a great variety of marine or strand-plants. In its upper portions,
salt-peat is coarsely fibrous from the grass roots, and dark-brown in
color. At sufficient depth it is black and destitute of fibres.

The fact that peat is fibrous in texture shows that it is of
comparatively recent formation, or that the decomposition has been
arrested before reaching its later stages. Fibrous peat is found near
the surface, and as we dig down into a very deep bed we find almost
invariably that the fibrous structure becomes less and less evident
until at a certain depth it entirely disappears.

It is not depth simply, but age or advancement in decomposition, which
determines these differences of texture.

The "ripest," most perfectly formed peat, that in which the peaty
decomposition has reached its last stage,--which, in Germany, is termed
_pitchy-peat_ or _fat peat_, (_Pechtorf_, _Specktorf_)--is dark-brown or
black in color, and comparatively heavy and dense. When moist, it is
firm, sticky and coherent almost like clay, may be cut and moulded to
any shape. Dried, it becomes hard, and on a cut or burnished surface
takes a luster like wax or pitch.

In Holland, West Friesland, Holstein, Denmark and Pomerania, a so-called
_mud-peat_ (_Schlammtorf_, also _Baggertorf_ and _Streichtorf_,) is
"fished up" from the bottoms of ponds, as a black mud or paste, which,
on drying, becomes hard and dense like the pitchy-peat.

The two varieties of peat last named are those which are most prized as
fuel in Europe.

_Vitriol peat_ is peat of any kind impregnated with sulphate of iron
(_copperas_,) and sulphate of alumina, (the astringent ingredient of

_Swamp Muck._--In New England, the vegetable remains occurring in
swamps, etc., are commonly called _Muck_. In proper English usage, muck
is a general term for manure of any sort, and has no special application
to the contents of bogs. With us, however, this meaning appears to be
quite obsolete, though in our agricultural literature--formerly, more
than now, it must be admitted,--the word as applied to the subject of
our treatise, has been qualified as _Swamp Muck_.

In Germany, peat of whatever character, is designated by the single word
_Torf_; in France it is _Tourbe_, and of the same origin is the word
_Turf_, applied to it in Great Britain. With us turf appears never to
have had this signification.

Peat, no doubt, is a correct name for the substance which results from
the decomposition of vegetable matters under or saturated with water,
whatever its appearance or properties. There is, however, with us, an
inclination to apply this word particularly to those purer and more
compact sorts which are adapted for fuel, while to the lighter, less
decomposed or more weathered kinds, and to those which are considerably
intermixed with soil or silt, the term muck or swamp muck is given.
These distinctions are not, indeed, always observed, and, in fact, so
great is the range of variation in the quality of the substance, that it
would be impossible to draw a line where muck leaves off and peat
begins. Notwithstanding, a rough distinction is better than none, and
we shall therefore employ the two terms when any greater clearness of
meaning can be thereby conveyed.

It happens, that in New England, the number of small shallow swales,
that contain unripe or impure peat, is much greater than that of large
and deep bogs. Their contents are therefore more of the "mucky" than of
the "peaty" order, and this may partly account for New England usage in
regard to these old English words.

By the term muck, some farmers understand leaf-mold (decayed leaves),
especially that which collects in low and wet places. When the deposit
is deep and saturated with water, it may have all the essential
characters of peat. Ripe peat, from such a source is, however, so far as
the writer is informed, unknown to any extent in this country. We might
distinguish as _leaf-muck_ the leaves which have decomposed under or
saturated with water, retaining the well established term leaf-mold to
designate the dry or drier covering of the soil in a dense forest of
deciduous trees.

_Salt-mud._--In the marshes, bays, and estuaries along the sea-shore,
accumulate large quantities of fine silt, brought down by rivers or
deposited from the sea-water, which are more or less mixed with finely
divided peat or partly decomposed vegetable matters, derived largely
from Sea-weed, and in many cases also with animal remains (mussels and
other shell-fish, crabs, and myriads of minute organisms.) This black
mud has great value as a fertilizer.

4. _The Chemical Characters and Composition of Peat._

The process of burning, demonstrates that peat consists of two kinds of
substance; one of which, the larger portion, is combustible, and is
_organic_ or vegetable matter; the other, smaller portion, remaining
indestructible by fire is _inorganic matter_ or _ash_. We shall consider
these separately.

a. _The organic or combustible part of peat_ varies considerably in its
proximate composition. It is in fact an indefinite mixture of several or
perhaps of many compound bodies, whose precise nature is little known.
These bodies have received the collective names _Humus_ and _Geine_. We
shall employ the term _humus_ to designate this mixture, whether
occurring in peat, swamp-muck, salt-mud, in composts, or in the arable
soil. Its chemical characters are much the same, whatever its appearance
or mode of occurrence; and this is to be expected since it is always
formed from the same materials and under essentially similar conditions.

_Resinous_ and _Bituminous matters_.--If dry pulverized peat be agitated
and warmed for a short time with alcohol, there is usually extracted a
small amount of _resinous_ and sometimes of _bituminous_ matters, which
are of no account in the agricultural applications of peat, but have a
bearing on its value as fuel.

_Ulmic_ and _Humic acids_.--On boiling what remains from the treatment
with alcohol, with a weak solution of carbonate of soda (sal-soda), we
obtain a yellowish-brown or black liquid. This liquid contains certain
acid ingredients of the peat which become soluble by entering into
chemical combination with soda.

On adding to the solution strong vinegar, or any other strong acid,
there separates a bulky brown or black substance, which, after a time,
subsides to the bottom of the vessel as a precipitate, to use a chemical
term, leaving the liquid of a more or less yellow tinge. This deposit,
if obtained from light brown peat, is _ulmic acid_; if from black peat,
it is _humic acid_. These acids, when in the precipitated state, are
insoluble in vinegar; but when this is washed away, they are
considerably soluble in water. They are, in fact, modified by the action
of the soda, so as to acquire much greater solubility in water than they
otherwise possess. On drying the bulky bodies thus obtained, brown or
black lustrous masses result, which have much the appearance of coal.

_Ulmin_ and _Humin_.--After extracting the peat with solution of
carbonate of soda, it still contains ulmin or humin. These bodies cannot
be obtained in the pure state from peat, since they are mixed with more
or less partially decomposed vegetable matters from which they cannot be
separated without suffering chemical change. They have been procured,
however, by the action of muriatic acid on sugar. They are indifferent
in their chemical characters, are insoluble in water and in solution of
carbonate of soda; but upon heating with solution of hydrate of soda
they give dark-colored liquids, being in fact converted by this
treatment into ulmic and humic acids, respectively, with which they are
identical in composition.

The terms ulmic and humic acids do not refer each to a single compound,
but rather to a group of bodies of closely similar appearance and
properties, which, however, do differ slightly in their characteristics,
and differ also in composition by containing more or less of oxygen and
hydrogen in equal equivalents.

After complete extraction with hydrate of soda, there remains more or
less undecomposed vegetable matter, together with sand and soil, were
these contained in the peat.

_Crenic_ and _apocrenic acids_.--From the usually yellowish liquid out
of which the ulmic and humic acids have been separated, may further be
procured by appropriate chemical means, not needful to be detailed
here, two other bodies which bear the names respectively of _Crenic
Acid_ and _Apocrenic Acid_. These acids were discovered by Berzelius,
the great Swedish chemist, in the water and sediment of the Porla
spring, in Sweden.

By the action upon peat of carbonate of ammonia, which is generated to
some extent in the decay of vegetable matters and is also absorbed from
the air, ulmic and humic acids are made soluble, and combine with the
ammonia as well as with lime, oxide of iron, etc. In some cases the
ulmates and humates thus produced may be extracted from the peat by
water, and consequently occur dissolved in the water of the swamp from
which the peat is taken, giving it a yellow or brown color.

_Ulmates_ and _Humates_.--Of considerable interest to us here, are the
properties of the compounds of these acids, that may be formed in peat
when it is used as an ingredient of composts. The ulmates and humates of
the alkalies, viz.: _potash_, _soda_, and _ammonia_, dissolve readily in
water. They are formed when the alkalies or their carbonates act on
ulmin and humin, or upon ulmates or humates of lime, iron, etc. Their
dilute solutions are yellow, or brown.

The ulmates and humates of _lime_, _magnesia_, oxide of _iron_, oxide of
_manganese_ and _alumina_, are insoluble, or nearly so in water.

In ordinary soils, the earths and oxides just named, predominate over
the alkalies, and although they may contain considerable ulmic and humic
acids, water is able to extract but very minute quantities of the
latter, on account of the insolubility of the compounds they have

On the other hand, peat, highly manured garden soil, leaf-mold, rotted
manure and composts, yield yellow or brown extracts with water, from the
fact that alkalies are here present to form soluble compounds.

An important fact established by Mulder is, that when solutions of
alkali-carbonates are put in contact with the insoluble ulmates and
humates, the latter are decomposed; soluble alkali-ulmates and humates
being formed, and _in these, a portion of the otherwise insoluble
ulmates and humates dissolve_, so that thus, in a compost, lime,
magnesia, oxide of iron, and even alumina may exist in soluble
combinations, by the agency of these acids.

_Crenates_ and _Apocrenates_.--The ulmic and humic acids when separated
from their compounds, are nearly insoluble, and, so far as we know,
comparatively inert bodies; by further change, (uniting with oxygen)
they pass into or yield the crenic and apocrenic acids which, according
to Mulder, have an acid taste, being freely soluble in water, and in all
respects, decided acids. The compounds of both these acids with the
alkalies are soluble. The crenates of lime, magnesia, and protoxide of
iron are soluble, crenates of peroxide of iron and of oxide of manganese
are but very slightly soluble; crenate of alumina is insoluble. The
apocrenates of iron and manganese are slightly soluble; those of lime,
magnesia, and alumina are insoluble. All the insoluble crenates and
apocrenates, are soluble in solutions of the corresponding salts of the

Application of these facts will be given in subsequent paragraphs. It
may be here remarked, that the crenate of protoxide of iron is not
unfrequently formed in considerable quantity in peat-bogs, and
dissolving in the water of springs gives them a chalybeate character.
Copious springs of this kind occur at the edge of a peat-bed at
Woodstock, Conn., which are in no small repute for their medicinal
qualities, having a tonic effect from the iron they contain. Such
waters, on exposure to the air, shortly absorb oxygen, and the substance
is thereby converted into crenate and afterwards into apocrenate of
peroxide of iron, which, being but slightly soluble, or insoluble,
separates as a yellow or brown ochreous deposit along the course of the
water. By further exposure to air the organic acid is oxidized to
carbonic acid, and hydrated oxide of iron remains. Bog-iron ore appears
often to have originated in this way.

_Gein and Geic acid._--Mulder formerly believed another substance to
exist in peat which he called _Gein_, and from this by the action of
alkalies he supposed geic acid to be formed. In his later writings,
however, he expresses doubt as to the existence of such a substance,
and we may omit further notice of it, especially since, if it really
do occur, its properties are not distinct from those of humic acid.

We should not neglect to remark, however, that the word gein has been
employed by some writers in the sense in which we use humus, viz.: to
denote the brown or black products of the decomposition of vegetable

It is scarcely to be doubted that other organic compounds exist in peat.
As yet, however, we have no knowledge of any other ingredients, while it
appears certain that those we have described are its chief constituents,
and give it its peculiar properties. With regard to them it must
nevertheless be admitted, that our chemical knowledge is not entirely
satisfactory, and new investigations are urgently demanded to supply the
deficiencies of the researches so ably made by Mulder, more than twenty
years ago.

_Elementary Composition of Peat._

After this brief notice of those organic _compounds_ that have been
recognized in or produced from peat, we may give attention to the
elementary composition of peat itself.

Like that of the vegetation from which it originates, the organic part
of peat consists of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. In the
subjoined table are given the proportions of these elements as found in
the combustible part of sphagnum, of several kinds of wood, and in that
of a number of peats in various stages of ripeness. They are arranged in
the order of their content of carbon.

                                    |          |_Car-|_Hydro-|_Oxy-|_Nitro-
                                    |_Analyst._|bon._| gen._ |gen._| gen._
  1--Sphagnum   }                   | Websky   |49.88| 6.54  |42.42| 1.16
  2--Peach wood } undecomposed      |Chevandier|49.90| 6.10  |43.10| 0.90
  3--Poplar "   }                   |    "     |50.30| 6.30  |42.40| 1.00
  4--Oak    "   }                   |    "     |50.60| 6.00  |42.10| 1.30
  5--Peat, porous, light-brown,     |          |     |       |     |
         sphagnous                  | Websky   |50.86| 5.80  |42.57| 0.77
  6-- "  porous, red-brown.         | Jæckel   |53.51| 5.90  |   40.59
  7-- "  heavy, brown.              |    "     |56.43| 5.32  |   38.25
  8-- "  dark red-brown,            |          |     |       |     |
         well decomposed            | Websky   |59.47| 6.52  |31.51| 2.51
  9-- "  black, very dense          |          |     |       |     |
         and hard.                  |   "      |59.70| 5.70  |33.04| 1.56
 10-- "  black, heavy, }best quality|   "      |59.71| 5.27  |32.07| 2.59
 11-- "  brown, heavy, }for fuel.   |   "      |62.54| 6.81  |29.24| 1.41

From this table it is seen that sphagnum, and the wood of our forest
trees are very similar in composition, though not identical. Further, it
is seen from analyses 1 and 5, that in the first stages of the
conversion of sphagnum into peat--which are marked by a change of color,
but in which the form of the sphagnum is to a considerable extent
preserved--but little alteration occurs in ultimate composition; about
one _per cent._ of carbon being gained, and one of hydrogen lost. We
notice in running down the columns that as the peat becomes heavier and
darker in color, it also becomes richer in carbon and poorer in oxygen.
Hydrogen varies but slightly.

As a general statement we may say that the ripest and heaviest peat
contains 10 or 12 _per cent._ more carbon and 10 or 12 _per cent._ less
oxygen than the vegetable matter from which it is produced; while
between the unaltered vegetation and the last stage of humification, the
peat runs through an indefinite number of intermediate stages.

Nitrogen is variable, but, in general, the older peats contain the most.
To this topic we shall shortly recur, and now pass on to notice--

_The ultimate composition of the compounds of which peat consists._

Below are tabulated analyses of the organic acids of peat:--

                                     _Carbon._  _Hydrogen._  _Oxygen._
 Ulmic acid, artificial from sugar     67.10       4.20        28.70
 Humic acid, from Frisian peat         61.10       4.30        34.60
 Crenic acid                           56.47       2.74        40.78
 Apocrenic acid                        45.70       4.80        49.50

It is seen that the amount of carbon diminishes from ulmic acid to
apocrenic, that of oxygen increases in the same direction and to the
same extent, viz.: about 21 _per cent._, while the hydrogen remains
nearly the same in all.

b. _The mineral part of peat, which remains as ashes_ when the organic
matters are burned away, is variable in quantity and composition.
Usually a portion of sand or soil is found in it, and this not
unfrequently constitutes its larger portion. Some peats leave on burning
much carbonate of lime; others chiefly sulphate of lime; the ash of
others again is mostly oxyd of iron; silicic, and phosphoric acids,
magnesia, potash, soda, alumina and chlorine, also occur in small
quantities in the ash of all peats.

With one exception (alumina) all these bodies are important ingredients
of agricultural plants.

In some rare instances, peats are found, which are so impregnated with
soluble sulphates of iron and alumina, as to yield these salts to water
in large quantity; and sulphate of iron (green vitriol,) has actually
been manufactured from such peats, which in consequence have been
characterized as _vitriol peats_.

Those bases (lime, oxide of iron, etc.,) which are found as carbonates
or simple oxides in the ashes, exist in the peat itself in combination
with the humic and other organic acids. When these compounds are
destroyed by burning, the bases remain united to carbonic acid.

5.--_Chemical Changes that occur in the formation of Peat._ When a plant
perishes, its conversion into humus usually begins at once. When exposed
to the atmosphere, the oxygen of the air attacks it, uniting with its
carbon producing carbonic acid gas, and with its hydrogen generating
water. This action goes on, though slowly, even at some depth under
water, because the latter dissolves oxygen from the air in small
quantity,[2] and constantly resupplies itself as rapidly as the gas is

Whether exposed to the air or not, the organic matter suffers internal
decomposition, and portions of its elements assume the gaseous or liquid
form. We have seen that ripe peat is 10 to 12 _per cent._ richer in
carbon and equally poorer in oxygen, than the vegetable matters from
which it originates. Organic matters, in passing into peat, lose carbon
and nitrogen; but they lose oxygen more rapidly than the other two
elements, and hence the latter become relatively more abundant. The loss
of hydrogen is such that its proportion to the other elements is but
little altered.

The bodies that separate from the decomposing vegetable matter are
carbonic acid gas, carburetted hydrogen (marsh gas), nitrogen gas, and

Carbonic acid is the most abundant gaseous product of the peaty
decomposition. Since it contains nearly 73 _per cent._ of oxygen and but
27 _per cent._ of carbon, it is obvious that by its escape the
proportion of carbon in the residual mass is increased. In the formation
of water from the decaying matters, 1 part of hydrogen carries off 8
parts of oxygen, and this change increases the proportion of carbon and
of hydrogen. Marsh gas consists of one part of hydrogen to three of
carbon, but it is evolved in comparatively small quantity, and hence has
no effect in diminishing the _per cent._ of carbon.

The gas that bubbles up through the water of a peat-bog, especially if
the decomposing matters at the bottom be stirred, consists largely of
marsh gas and nitrogen, often with but a small proportion of carbonic
acid. Thus Websky found in gas from a peat-bed

 Carbonic acid     2.97
 Marsh gas        43.36
 Nitrogen         53.67

Carbonic acid, however, dissolves to a considerable extent in water, and
is furthermore absorbed by the living vegetation, which is not true of
marsh gas and nitrogen; hence the latter escape while the former does
not. Nitrogen escapes in the uncombined state, as it always (or usually)
does in the decay of vegetable and animal matters that contain it. Its
loss is, in general, slower than that of the other elements, and it
sometimes accumulates in the peat in considerable quantity. A small
portion of nitrogen unites with hydrogen, forming ammonia, which remains
combined with the humic and other acids.



After the foregoing account of the composition of peat, we may proceed
to notice:

1.--_The characters that adapt it for agricultural uses._

These characters are conveniently discussed under two heads, viz.:

Those which render it useful in improving the texture and physical
characters of the soil, and indirectly contribute to the nourishment of
crops,--characters which constitute it an _amendment_ to the soil (_A_);

Those which make it a direct _fertilizer_ (_B_).

A.--Considered as an amendment, the value of peat depends upon

_Its remarkable power of absorbing and retaining water, both as a liquid
and as a vapor_ (I):

_Its power of absorbing ammonia_ (II):

_Its effect in promoting the disintegration and solution of mineral
ingredients, that is the stony matters of the soil_ (III): _and_

_Its influence on the temperature of the soil_ (IV).

The agricultural importance of these properties of peat is best
illustrated by considering the faults of a certain class of soils.

Throughout the State of Connecticut, for instance, are found abundant
examples of light, leachy, hungry soils, which consist of coarse sand or
fine gravel; are surface-dry in a few hours after the heaviest rains,
and in the summer drouths, are as dry as an ash-heap to a depth of
several or many feet.

These soils are easy to work, are ready for the plow early in the
spring, and if well manured give fair crops in wet seasons. In a dry
summer, however, they yield poorly, or fail of crops entirely; and, at
the best, they require constant and very heavy manuring to keep them in

Crops fail on these soils from two causes, viz.; _want of moisture_ and
_want of food_. Cultivated plants demand as an indispensable condition
of their growth and perfection, to be supplied with water in certain
quantities, which differ with different crops. Buckwheat will flourish
best on dry soils, while cranberries and rice grow in swamps.

Our ordinary cereal, root, forage and garden crops require a medium
degree of moisture, and with us it is in all cases desirable that the
soil be equally protected from excess of water and from drouth. Soils
must be thus situated either naturally, or as the result of improvement,
before any steadily good results can be obtained in their cultivation.
The remedy for excess of water in too heavy soils, is thorough drainage.
It is expensive, but effectual. It makes the earth more porous, opens
and maintains channels, through which the surplus water speedily runs
off, and permits the roots of crops to go down to a considerable depth.

What, let us consider, is the means of obviating the defects of soils
that are naturally too porous, from which the water runs off too
readily, and whose crops "burn up" in dry seasons?

In wet summers, these light soils, as we have remarked, are quite
productive if well manured. It is then plain that if we could add
anything to them which would retain the moisture of dews and rains in
spite of the summer-heats, our crops would be uniformly fair, provided
the supply of manure were kept up.

But why is it that light soils, need more manure than loamy or heavy
lands? We answer--because, in the first place the rains which quickly
descend through the open soil, wash down out of the reach of vegetation
the soluble fertilizing matters, especially the nitrates, for which the
soil has no retentive power; and in the second place, from the porosity
of the soil, the air has too great access, so that the vegetable and
animal matters of manures decay too rapidly, their volatile portions,
ammonia and carbonic acid, escape into the atmosphere, and are in
measure lost to the crops. From these combined causes we find that a
heavy dressing of well-rotted stable manure, almost if not entirely,
disappears from such soils in one season, so that another year the field
requires a renewed application; while on loamy soils the same amount of
manure would have lasted several years, and produced each year a better

We want then to _amend_ light soils by incorporating with them something
that prevents the rains from leaching through them too rapidly, and also
that renders them less open to the air, or absorbs and retains for the
use of crops the volatile products of the decay of manures.

For these purposes, vegetable matter of some sort is the best and almost
the only amendment that can be economically employed. In many cases a
good peat or muck is the best form of this material, that lies at the
farmer's command.

I.--_Its absorbent power for liquid water_ is well known to every farmer
who has thrown it up in a pile to season for use. It holds the water
like a sponge, and, according to its greater or less porosity, will
retain from 50 to 100 or more _per cent._ of its weight of liquid,
without dripping. Nor can this water escape from it rapidly. It dries
almost as slowly as clay, and a heap of it that has been exposed to sun
and wind for a whole summer, though it has of course lost much water, is
still distinctly wet to the eye and the feel a little below the surface.

_Its absorbent power for vapor of water_ is so great that more than once
it has happened in Germany, that barns or close sheds filled with
partially dried peat, such as is used for fuel, have been burst by the
swelling of the peat in damp weather, occasioned by the absorption of
moisture from the air. This power is further shown by the fact that when
peat has been kept all summer long in a warm room, thinly spread out to
the air, and has become like dry snuff to the feel, it still contains
from 8 to 30 _per cent._ (average 15 _per cent._) of water. To dry a
peat thoroughly, it requires to be exposed for some time to the
temperature of boiling water. It is thus plain, as experience has
repeatedly demonstrated, that no ordinary summer heats can dry up a soil
which has had a good dressing of this material, for on the one hand, it
soaks up and holds the rains that fall upon it, and on the other, it
absorbs the vapor of water out of the atmosphere whenever it is moist,
as at night and in cloudy weather.

When peat has once become _air-dry_, it no longer manifests this avidity
for water. In drying it shrinks, loses its porosity and requires long
soaking to saturate it again. In the soil, however, it rarely becomes
air-dry, unless indeed, this may happen during long drouth with a peaty
soil, such as results from the draining of a bog.

II.--_Absorbent power for ammonia._

All soils that deserve to be called fertile, have the property of
absorbing and retaining ammonia and the volatile matters which escape
from fermenting manures, but light and coarse soils may be deficient in
this power. Here again in respect to its absorptive power for ammonia,
peat comes to our aid.

It is easy to show by direct experiment that peat absorbs and combines
with ammonia.

In 1858 I took a weighed quantity of air-dry peat from the New Haven
Beaver Pond, (a specimen furnished me by Chauncey Goodyear, Esq.,) and
poured upon it a known quantity of dilute solution of ammonia, and
agitated the two together occasionally during 48 hours. I then distilled
off at a boiling heat the unabsorbed ammonia and determined its
quantity. This amount subtracted from that of the ammonia originally
employed, gave the quantity of ammonia absorbed and retained by the peat
at the temperature of boiling water.

The peat retained ammonia to the amount of 0.95 of _one per cent._

I made another trial at the same time with carbonate of ammonia, adding
excess of solution of this salt to a quantity of peat, and exposing it
to the heat of boiling water, until no smell of ammonia was perceptible.
The entire nitrogen in the peat was then determined, and it was found
that the dry peat which originally contained nitrogen equivalent to 2.4
_per cent._ of ammonia, now yielded an amount corresponding to 3.7 _per
cent._ The quantity of ammonia absorbed and retained at a temperature
of 212°, was thus 1.3 _per cent._

This last experiment most nearly represents the true power of
absorption; because, in fermenting manures, ammonia mostly occurs in the
form of carbonate, and this is more largely retained than free ammonia,
on account of its power of decomposing the humate of lime, forming with
it carbonate of lime and humate of ammonia.

The absorbent power of peat is well shown by the analyses of three
specimens, sent me in 1858, by Edwin Hoyt, Esq., of New Canaan, Conn.
The first of these was the swamp muck he employed. It contained in the
air-dry state nitrogen equivalent to 0.58 _per cent._ of ammonia. The
second sample was the same muck that had lain under the flooring of the
horse stables, and had been, in this way, partially saturated with
urine. It contained nitrogen equivalent to 1.15 _per cent._ of ammonia.
The third sample was, finally, the same muck composted with white-fish.
It contained nitrogen corresponding to 1.31 _per cent._ of ammonia.[3]

The quantities of ammonia thus absorbed, both in the laboratory and
field experiments are small--from 0.7 to 1.3 _per cent._ The absorption
is without doubt chiefly due to the organic matter of the peats, and in
all the specimens on which these trials were made, the proportion of
inorganic matter is large. The results therefore become a better
expression of the power of _peat_, in general, to absorb ammonia, if we
reckon them on the organic matter alone. Calculated in this way, the
organic matter of the Beaver Pond peat (which constitutes but 68 _per
cent._ of the dry peat) absorbs 1.4 _per cent._ of free ammonia, and 1.9
_per cent._ of ammonia out of the carbonate of ammonia.

Similar experiments, by Anderson, on a Scotch peat, showed it to
possess, when wet, an absorptive power of 2 _per cent._, and, after
drying in the air, it still retained 1.5 _per cent._--[Trans. Highland
and Ag'l Soc'y.]

When we consider how small an ingredient of most manures nitrogen is,
viz.: from one-half to three-quarters of one _per cent._ in case of
stable manure, and how little of it, in the shape of guano for instance,
is usually applied to crops--not more than 40 to 60 lbs. to the acre,
(the usual dressings with guano are from 250 to 400 lbs. per acre, and
nitrogen averages but 15 _per cent._ of the guano), we at once perceive
that an absorptive power of one or even one-half _per cent._ is greatly
more than adequate for every agricultural purpose.

III.--_Peat promotes the disintegration of the soil._

The soil is a storehouse of food for crops; the stores it contains are,
however, only partly available for immediate use. In fact, by far the
larger share is locked up, as it were, in insoluble combinations, and
only by a slow and gradual change can it become accessible to the plant.
This change is largely brought about by the united action of _water_ and
_carbonic acid gas_. Nearly all the rocks and minerals out of which
fertile soils are formed,--which therefore contain those inorganic
matters that are essential to vegetable growth,--though very slowly
acted on by pure water, are decomposed and dissolved to a much greater
extent by water, charged with carbonic acid gas.

It is by these solvents that the formation of soil from broken rocks is
to a great extent due. Clay is invariably a result of their direct
action upon rocks. The efficiency of the soil depends greatly upon their
chemical influence.

_The only abundant source of carbonic acid in the soil, is decaying
vegetable matter._

Hungry, leachy soils, from their deficiency of vegetable matter and of
moisture, do not adequately yield their own native resources to the
support of crops, because the conditions for converting their fixed into
floating capital are wanting. Such soils dressed with peat or green
manured, at once acquire the power of retaining water, and keep that
water ever charged with carbonic acid: thus not only the extraneous
manures which the farmer applies are fully economized; but the soil
becomes more productive from its own stores of fertility which now begin
to be unlocked and available.

Dr. Peters, of Saxony, has made some instructive experiments that are
here in point. He filled several large glass jars, (2-1/2 feet high and
5-1/2 inches wide) with a rather poor loamy sand, containing
considerable humus, and planted in each one, June 14, 1857, an equal
number of seeds of oats and peas. Jar No. 2 had daily passed into it
through a tube, adapted to the bottom, about 3-1/4 pints of common air.
No. 3 received daily the same bulk of a mixture of air and carbonic acid
gas, of which the latter amounted to one-fourth. No. 1 remained without
any treatment of this kind, _i. e._: in just the condition of the soil
in an open field, having no air in its pores, save that penetrating it
from the atmosphere. On October 3, the plants were removed from the
soil, and after drying at the boiling point of water, were weighed. The
crops from the pots into which air and carbonic acid were daily forced,
were about _twice as heavy_ as No. 1, which remained in the ordinary

Examination of the soil further demonstrated, that in the last two
soils, a considerably greater quantity of mineral and organic matters
had become soluble in water, than in the soil that was not artificially
aërated. The actual results are given in the table below in grammes, and
refer to 6000 grammes of soil in each case:--

                                    |  _No. 1,  |        |
                                    |  Without  |_No. 2, |  _No. 3,
 _Substances soluble in water, etc._| Artificial| Common |  Air and
                                    | Supply of |  Air   |  Carbonic
                                    |   Air._   | Added._|acid added._
 Mineral matters                    |    2.04   |  3.71  |    4.99
 Potash                             |    0.07   |  0.17  |    0.14
 Soda                               |    0.17   |  0.23  |    0.28
 Organic matters                    |    2.76   |  4.32  |    2.43
                                    |           |        |
 Weight of Crops                    |    5.89   | 10.49  |   12.35

It will be seen from the above that air alone exercised nearly as much
solvent effect as the mixture of air with one-fourth its weight of
carbonic acid; this is doubtless, in part due to the fact that the air,
upon entering the soil rich in humus, caused the abundant formation of
carbonic acid, as will be presently shown must have been the case. It
is, however, probable that organic acids (crenic and apocrenic,) and
nitric acid were also produced (by oxidation,) and shared with carbonic
the work of solution.

It is almost certain, that the acids of peat exert a powerful
decomposing, and ultimately solvent effect on the minerals of the soil;
but on this point we have no precise information, and must therefore be
content merely to present the probability. This is sustained by the fact
that the crenic, apocrenic and humic acids, though often partly
uncombined, are never wholly so, but usually occur united in part to
various bases, viz.: lime, magnesia, ammonia, potash, alumina and oxide
of iron.

The crenic and apocrenic acids (that are formed by the oxidation of
ulmic and humic acids,) have such decided acid characters,--crenic acid
especially, which has a strongly sour taste--that we cannot well doubt
their dissolving action.

IV.--_The influence of peat on the temperature_ of light soils dressed
with it may often be of considerable practical importance. A light dry
soil is subject to great variations of temperature, and rapidly follows
the changes of the atmosphere from cold to hot, and from hot to cold. In
the summer noon a sandy soil becomes so warm as to be hardly endurable
to the feel, and again it is on such soils that the earliest frosts take
effect. If a soil thus subject to extremes of temperature have a dressing
of peat, it will on the one hand not become so warm in the hot day, and
on the other hand it will not cool so rapidly, nor so much in the night;
its temperature will be rendered more uniform, and on the whole, more
conducive to the welfare of vegetation. This regulative effect on
temperature is partly due to the stores of water held by peat. In a hot
day this water is constantly evaporating, and this, as all know, is a
cooling process. At night the peat absorbs vapor of water from the air,
and condenses it within its pores, this condensation is again accompanied
with the evolution of heat.

It appears to be a general, though not invariable fact, that dark
colored soils, other things being equal, are constantly the warmest, or
at any rate maintain the temperature most favorable to vegetation. It
has been repeatedly observed that on light-colored soils plants mature
more rapidly, if the earth be thinly covered with a coating of some
black substance. Thus Lampadius, Professor in the School of Mines at
Freiberg, a town situated in a mountainous part of Saxony, found that he
could ripen melons, even in the coolest summers, by strewing a coating
of coal-dust an inch deep over the surface of the soil. In some of the
vineyards of the Rhine, the powder of a black slate is employed to
hasten the ripening of the grape.

Girardin, an eminent French agriculturist, in a series of experiments on
the cultivation of potatoes, found that the time of their ripening
varied eight to fourteen days, according to the character of the soil.
He found, on the 25th of August, in a very dark soil, made so by the
presence of much humus or decaying vegetable matter, twenty-six
varieties ripe; in sandy soil but twenty, in clay nineteen, and in a
white lime soil only sixteen.

It cannot be doubted then, that the effect of dressing a light sandy or
gravelly soil with peat, or otherwise enriching it in vegetable matter,
is to render it warmer, in the sense in which that word is usually
applied to soils. The upward range of the thermometer is not, indeed,
increased, but the uniform warmth so salutary to our most valued crops
is thereby secured.

In the light soils stable-manure wastes too rapidly because, for one
reason, at the extremes of high temperature, oxidation and decay proceed
with great rapidity, and the volatile portions of the fertilizer are
used up faster than the plant can appropriate them, so that not only are
they wasted during the early periods of growth, but they are wanting at
a later period when their absence may prove the failure of a crop.

B. The ingredients and qualities which make peat _a direct fertilizer_
next come under discussion. We shall notice:

_The organic matters including nitrogen (ammonia and nitric acid)_ (I):

_The inorganic or mineral ingredients_ (II):

_Peculiarities in the decay of Peat_ (III), _and_

_Institute a comparison between peat and stable manure_ (IV).

I.--Under this division we have to consider:

1. _The organic matters as direct food to plants._

Thirty years ago, when Chemistry and Vegetable Physiology began to be
applied to Agriculture, the opinion was firmly held among scientific
men, that the organic parts of humus--by which we understand decayed
vegetable matter, such as is found to a greater or less extent in all
good soils, and _abounds_ in many fertile ones, such as constitutes the
leaf-mold of forests, such as is produced in the fermenting of stable
manure, and that forms the principal part of swamp-muck and peat,--are
the true nourishment of vegetation, at any rate of the higher orders of
plants, those which supply food to man and to domestic animals.

In 1840, Liebig, in his celebrated treatise on the "Applications of
Chemistry to Agriculture and Physiology," gave as his opinion that these
organic bodies do not nourish vegetation except by the products of their
decay. He asserted that they cannot enter the plant directly, but that
the water, carbonic acid and ammonia resulting from their decay, are the
substances actually imbibed by plants, and from these alone is built up
the organic or combustible part of vegetation.

To this day there is a division of opinion among scientific men on this
subject, some adopting the views of Liebig, others maintaining that
certain soluble organic matters, viz., crenic and apocrenic acids are
proper food of plants.

On the one hand it has been abundantly demonstrated that these organic
matters are not at all essential to the growth of agricultural plants,
and can constitute but a small part of the actual food of vegetation
taken in the aggregate.

On the other hand, we are acquainted with no satisfactory evidence that
the soluble organic matters of the soil and of peat, especially the
crenates and apocrenates, are not actually appropriated by, and, so far
as they go, are not directly serviceable as food to plants.

Be this as it may, practice has abundantly demonstrated the value of
humus as an ingredient of the soil, and if not directly, yet indirectly,
it furnishes the material out of which plants build up their parts.

2. _The organic matters of peat as indirect food to plants._ Very nearly
one-half, by weight, of our common crops, when perfectly dry, consists
of _carbon_. The substance which supplies this element to plants is the
gas, carbonic acid. Plants derive this gas mostly from the atmosphere,
absorbing it by means of their leaves. But the free atmosphere, at only
a little space above the soil, contains on the average but 1/2500 of its
bulk of this gas, whereas plants flourish in air containing a larger
quantity, and, in fact, their other wants being supplied, they grow
better as the quantity is increased to 1/12 the bulk of the air. These
considerations make sufficiently obvious how important it is that the
soil have in itself a constant and abundant source of carbonic acid gas.
As before said, _organic matter, in a state of decay_, is the single
material which the farmer can incorporate with his soil in order to make
the latter a supply of this most indispensable form of plant-food.

When organic matters decay in the soil, their carbon ultimately assumes
the form of Carbonic acid. This gas, constantly exhaling from the soil,
is taken up by the foliage of the crops, and to some extent is absorbed
likewise by their roots.

Boussingault & Lewy have examined the air inclosed in the interstices of
various soils, and invariably found it much richer (10 to 400 times)
than that of the atmosphere above. Here follow some of their results:

 A - _Volumes of Carbonic acid in 100 of air in pores of Soil._
 B - _Cubic feet of air in acre to depth of 14 inches._
 C - _Cubic feet of Carbonic acid in acre to depth of 14 inches._
 D - _Volumes of Carbonic acid to 100 of air above the soil._
 E - _Cubic feet of air over one acre to height of 14 inches._
 F - _Cubic feet of Carbonic acid over one acre to a height of 14 inches._

           _Designation and Condition of Soil._          |  A  |  B   | C
 Sandy subsoil of forest                                 |0.24 | 4,326|  14
 Loamy   "     "   "                                     |0.82 | 3,458|  28
 Surface soil  "   "                                     |0.86 | 5,768|  56
 Clayey soil of artichoke field                          |0.66 |10,094|  71
 Soil of asparagus bed, unmanured for one year           |0.79 |10,948|  86
 "    "    "       "    newly manured                    |1.54 |10,948| 172
 Sandy soil, six days after manuring, and three          |     |      |
                                            days of rain.|2.21 |11,536| 257
 "      "    ten   "    "      "      "   "              |     |      |
                                             "   "   "   |9.74 |11,536|1144
 Compost of vegetable mold                               |3.64 |20,608| 772
                                                         |     |      |
              _Carbonic Acid in Atmosphere_              |  D  |  E   | F
                                                         |0.025|50,820|  14

From the above it is seen that in soils containing little decomposing
organic matters--as the forest sub-soils--the quantity of carbonic acid
is no greater than that contained in an equal bulk of the atmosphere. It
is greater in loamy and clayey soils; but is still small. In the
artichoke field (probably light soil not lately manured), and even in an
asparagus bed unmanured for one year, the amount of carbonic acid is not
greatly larger. In newly manured fields, and especially in a vegetable
compost, the quantity is vastly greater.

The organic matters which come from manures, or from the roots and other
residues of crops, are the source of the carbonic acid of the soil.
These matters continually waste in yielding this gas, and must be
supplied anew. Boussingault found that the rich soil of his kitchen
garden (near Strasburg) which had been heavily manured from the
barn-yard for many years, lost one-third of its carbon by exposure to
the air for three months (July, August and September,) being daily
watered. It originally contained 2.43 _per cent._ At the conclusion of
the experiment it contained but 1.60 _per cent._, having lost 0.83 _per

Peat and swamp-muck, when properly prepared, furnish carbonic acid in
large quantities during their slow oxidation in the soil.

3. _The Nitrogen of Peat, including Ammonia and Nitric Acid._

The sources of the nitrogen of plants, and the real cause of the value
of nitrogenous fertilizers, are topics that have excited more discussion
than any other points in Agricultural Chemistry. This is the result of
two circumstances. One is the obscurity in which some parts of the
subject have rested; the other is the immense practical and commercial
importance of this element, as a characteristic and essential ingredient
of the most precious fertilizers. It is a rule that the most valuable
manures, _commercially considered_, are those containing the most
nitrogen. Peruvian guano, sulphate of ammonia, soda-saltpeter, fish and
flesh manures, bones and urine, cost the farmer more money per ton than
any other manures he buys or makes, superphosphate of lime excepted, and
this does not find sale, for general purposes, unless it contains
several _per cent._ of nitrogen. These are, in the highest sense,
nitrogenous fertilizers, and, if deprived of their nitrogen, they would
lose the greater share of their fertilizing power.

The importance of the nitrogen of manures depends upon the fact that
those forms (compounds) of nitrogen which are capable of supplying it to
vegetation are comparatively scarce.

It has long been known that peat contains a considerable quantity of
nitrogen. The average amount in thirty specimens, analyzed under the
author's direction, including peats and swamp mucks of all grades of
quality, is equivalent to 1-1/2 _per cent._ of the air-dried substance,
or more than thrice as much as exists in ordinary stable or yard manure.
In several peats the amount is as high as 2.4 _per cent._, and in one
case 2.9 _per cent._ were found.

Of these thirty samples, one-half were largely mixed with soil, and
contained from 15 to 60 _per cent._ of mineral matters.

Reducing them to an average of 15 _per cent._ of water and 5 _per cent._
of ash, they contain 2.1 _per cent._ of nitrogen, while the organic
part, considered free from water and mineral substances, contains on the
average 2.6 _per cent._ See table, page 90.

The five peats, analyzed by Websky and Chevandier, as cited on page 24,
considered free from water and ash, contain an average of 1.8 _per
cent._ of nitrogen.

We should not neglect to notice that peat is often comparatively poor in
nitrogen. Of the specimens, examined in the Yale Analytical Laboratory,
several contained but half a _per cent._ or less. So in the analyses of
Websky, one sample contained but 0.77 _per cent._ of the element in

As concerns the state of combination in which nitrogen exists in peat,
there is a difference of opinion. Mulder regards it as chiefly occurring
in the form of _ammonia_ (a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen), united
to the organic acids from which it is very difficult to separate it.
Recent investigations indicate that in general, peat contains but a
small proportion of ready-formed ammonia.

The great part of the nitrogen of peat exists in an insoluble and inert
form: but, by the action of the atmosphere upon it, especially when
mixed with and divided by the soil, it gradually becomes available to
vegetation to as great an extent as the nitrogen of ordinary

It appears from late examinations that weathered peat may contain
_nitric acid_ (compound of nitrogen with oxygen) in a proportion which,
though small, is yet of great importance, agriculturally speaking. What
analytical data we possess are subjoined.

          |             |            |   Total    |Ammonia, |
          |             |  Analyst.  | Nitrogen.  |per cent.|Nitric acid.
 1--Brown |             |            |            |         |
      Peat|Air dry (?)  |Boussingault|    2.20    |  0.018  |   0.000
 2--Black |             |            |            |         |
      Peat|     "       |     "      |Undetermined|  0.025  |Undetermined
 3--Peat  |Dried at 212°|Reichardt[4]|     "      |  0.152  |   0.483
 4--Peat  |     "       |     "      |     "      |  0.165  |   0.525
 5--Peat  |     "       |     "      |     "      |  0.305  |   0.241
 6--Peat  |     "       |     "      |     "      |  0.335  |   0.421

Specimens 3, 4 and 5, are swamp (or heath) mucks, and have been
weathered for use in flower-culture. 3 and 4 are alike, save that 3 has
been weathered a year longer than 4. They contain respectively 41, 56
and 67 _per cent._ of organic matter.

Sample 6, containing 86 _per cent._ of organic matter, is employed as a
manure with great advantage, and probably was weathered before analysis.
It contained 85 _per cent._ of organic substance.

More important to us than the circumstance that this peat contains but
little or no ammonia or nitric acid, and the other contains such or such
a fraction of one _per cent._ of these bodies, is the grand fact that
all peats may yield a good share of their nitrogen to the support of
crops, when properly treated and applied.

Under the influence of Liebig's teachings, which were logically based
upon the best data at the disposal of this distinguished philosopher
when he wrote 25 years ago, it has been believed that the nitrogen of a
fertilizer, in order to be available, must be converted into ammonia and
presented in that shape to the plant. It has been recently made clear
that nitric acid, rather than ammonia, is the form of nitrogenous food
which is most serviceable to vegetation, and the one which is most
abundantly supplied by the air and soil. The value of ammonia is however
positive, and not to be overlooked.

When peat, properly prepared by weathering or composting, is suitably
incorporated with a poor or light soil, it slowly suffers decomposition
and wastes away. If it be wet, and air have access in limited quantity,
especially if _lime_ be mixed with it, a portion of its nitrogen is
gradually converted into ammonia. With full access of air _nitric acid_
is produced. In either case, it appears that a considerable share of the
nitrogen escapes in the free state as gas, thereby becoming useless to
vegetation until it shall have become converted again into ammonia or
nitric acid. It happens in a cultivated soil that the oxygen of the air
is in excess at the surface, and less abundant as we go down until we
get below organic matters: it happens that one day it is saturated with
water more or less, and another day it is dry, so that at one time we
have the conditions for the formation of ammonia, and at another, those
favorable to producing nitric acid. In this way, so far as our present
knowledge warrants us to affirm, organic matters, decaying in the soil,
continuously yield portions of their nitrogen in the forms of ammonia
and nitric acid for the nourishment of plants.

The farmer who skillfully employs as a fertilizer a peat containing a
good proportion of nitrogen, may thus expect to get from it results
similar to what would come from the corresponding quantity of nitrogen
in guano or stable manure.

But the capacity of peat for feeding crops with, nitrogen appears not
to stop here. Under certain conditions, _the free nitrogen of the air
which cannot be directly appropriated by vegetation, is oxidized in the
pores of the soil to nitric acid, and thus, free of expense to the
farmer, his crops are daily dressed with the most precious of all

This gathering of useless nitrogen from the air, and making it over into
plant-food cannot go on in a soil destitute of organic matter, requires
in fact that vegetable remains or humified substances of some sort be
present there. The evidence of this statement, whose truth was maintained
years ago as a matter of opinion by many of the older chemists, has
recently become nearly a matter of demonstration by the investigations of
Boussingault and Knop, while the explanation of it is furnished by the
researches of Schoenbein and Zabelin. To attempt any elucidation of it
here would require more space than is at our disposal.

It is plain from the contents of this paragraph that peat or swamp muck
is, in general, an abundant source of nitrogen, and is often therefore
an extremely cheap means of replacing the most rare and costly

II.--With regard to the _inorganic matters of peat_ considered as food
to plants, it is obvious, that, leaving out of the account for the
present, some exceptional cases, they are useful as far as they go.

In the ashes of peats, we almost always find small quantities of
sulphate of lime, magnesia and phosphoric acid. Potash and soda too, are
often present, though rarely to any considerable amount. Carbonate and
sulphate of lime are large ingredients of the ashes of about one-half,
of the thirty-three peats and swamp mucks I have examined. The ashes of
the other half are largely mixed with sand and soil, but in most cases
also contain considerable sulphate of lime, and often carbonates of
lime and magnesia.

In one swamp-muck, from Milford, Conn., there was found but two _per
cent._ of ash, at least one-half of which was sand, and the remainder
sulphate of lime, (gypsum.) In other samples 20, 30, 50 and even 60 _per
cent._ remained after burning off the organic matter. In these cases the
ash is chiefly sand. The amount of ash found in those peats which were
most free from sand, ranges from five to nine _per cent._ Probably the
average proportion of true ash, viz.: that derived from the organic
matters themselves, not including sand and accidental ingredients, is
not far from five _per cent._

In twenty-two specimens of European peat, examined by Websky, Jæckel,
Walz, Wiegmann, Einhof and Berthier, eleven contained from 0.6 to 3.5
_per cent._ of ash. The other eleven yielded from 5.3 to 22 _per cent._
The average of the former was 2.4, that of the latter 12.7 _per cent._
Most of these contained a considerable proportion of sand or soil.

Variation in the composition as well as in the quantity of ash is very

Three analyses of peat-ashes have been executed at the author's instance
with the subjoined results:

                      ANALYSES OF PEAT-ASHES.
                            |     A.    |     B.    |     C.
 Potash.                    |    0.69   |    0.80   |    3.46
 Soda.                      |    0.58   |           |   trace.
 Lime.                      |   40.52   |   35.59   |    6.60
 Magnesia.                  |    6.06   |    4.92   |    1.05
 Oxide of iron and alumina. |    5.17   |    9.08   |   15.59
 Phosphoric acid.           |    0.50   |    0.77   |    1.55
 Sulphuric acid.            |    5.52   |   10.41   |    4.04
 Chlorine.                  |    0.15   |    0.43   |    0.70
 Soluble silica.            |    8.23   |    1.40 } |
 Carbonic acid.             |   19.60   |   22.28 } |   67.01
 Sand.                      |   12.11   |   15.04 } |
                            |   99.13   |  100.74   |  100.00

A was furnished by Mr. Daniel Buck, Jr., of Poquonock, Conn., and comes
from a peat which he uses as fuel.

B was sent by Mr. J. H. Stanwood, of Colebrook, Conn.

C was sent from Guilford, Conn., by Mr. Andrew Foote.[5]

A and B, after excluding sand, are seen to consist chiefly of carbonates
and sulphates of lime and magnesia. III. contains a very large
proportion of sand and soluble silica, much iron and alumina, less lime
and sulphuric acid. Potash and phosphoric acid are three times more
abundant in C than in the others.

Instead of citing in full the results of Websky, Jæckel and others, it
will serve our object better to present the maximum, minimum and average
proportions of the important ingredients in twenty-six recent analyses,
(including these three,) that have come under the author's notice.


                   _Minimum._       _Maximum._     _Average._
 Potash               0.05     to      3.64       0.89 per cent.
 Soda                 none     "       5.73       0.83    "
 Lime                 4.72     "      58.38      24.00    "
 Magnesia             none     "      24.39       3.20    "
 Alumina              0.90     "      20.50       5.78    "
 Oxide of iron        none     "      73.33      18.70    "
 Sulphuric acid       none     "      37.40       7.50    "
 Chlorine              "       "       6.50       0.60    "
 Phosphoric acid       "       "       6.29       2.56    "
 Sand                 0.99     "      56.97      25.50    "

It is seen from the above figures that the ash of peat varies in
composition to an indefinite degree. Lime is the only ingredient that is
never quite wanting, and with the exception of sand, it is on the
average the largest. Of the other agriculturally valuable components,
sulphuric acid has the highest average; then follows magnesia; then
phosphoric acid, and lastly, potash and soda: all of these, however, may
be nearly or quite lacking.

Websky, who has recently made a study of the composition of a number of
German peats, believes himself warranted to conclude that peat is so
modified in appearance by its mineral matters, that the quantity or
character of the latter may be judged of in many cases by the eye. He
remarks, (_Journal fuer Praktische Chemie, Bd. 92, S. 87_,) "that while
for example the peats containing much sand and clay have a red-brown
powdery appearance, and never assume a lustrous surface by pressure;
those which are very rich in lime, are black, sticky when moist, hard
and of a waxy luster on a pressed surface, when dry: a property which
they share indeed with very dense peats that contain little ash. Peats
impregnated with iron are easily recognized. Their peculiar odor, and
their changed appearance distinguish them from all others."

From my own investigations on thirty specimens of Connecticut peats, I
am forced to disagree with Websky entirely, and to assert that except as
regards sand, which may often be detected by the eye, there is no
connection whatever between the quantity or character of the ash and the
color, consistency, density or any other external quality of the peat.

The causes of this variation in the ash-content of peat, deserve a
moment's notice. The plants that produce peat contain considerable
proportions of lime, magnesia, alkalies, sulphuric acid, chlorine and
phosphoric acid, as seen from the following analysis by Websky.


 Potash.                        17.2
 Soda.                           8.3
 Lime.                          11.8
 Magnesia.                       6.7
 Sulphuric acid.                 6.5
 Chlorine.                       6.2
 Phosphoric acid.                6.7
     _Per cent._ of ash, 2.5.

The mineral matters of the sphagnum do not all become ingredients of
the peat; but, as rapidly as the moss decays below, its soluble matters
are to a great degree absorbed by the vegetation, which is still living
and growing above. Again, when a stream flows through a peat-bed,
soluble matters are carried away by the water, which is often dark-brown
from the substances dissolved in it. Finally the soil of the adjacent
land is washed or blown upon the swamp, in greater or less quantities.

III.--_The decomposition of peat in the soil offers some peculiarities_
that are worthy of notice in this place. Peat is more gradual and
regular in decay than the vegetable matters of stable dung, or than that
furnished by turning under sod or green crops. It is thus a more steady
and lasting benefit, especially in light soils, out of which ordinary
vegetable manures disappear too rapidly. The decay of peat appears to
proceed through a regular series of steps. In the soil, especially in
contact with soluble alkaline bodies, as ammonia and lime, there is a
progressive conversion of the _insoluble_ or _less soluble_ into
_soluble_ compounds. Thus the inert matters that resist the immediate
solvent power of alkalies, absorb oxygen from the air, and form the
humic or ulmic acids soluble in alkalies; the humic acids undergo
conversion into crenic acid, and this body, by oxidation, passes into
apocrenic acid. The two latter are soluble in water, and, in the porous
soil, they are rapidly brought to the end-results of decay, viz.: water,
carbonic acid, ammonia and free nitrogen.

Great differences must be observed, however, in the rapidity with which
these changes take place. Doubtless they go on most slowly in case of
the fibrous compact peats, and perhaps some of the lighter and more
porous samples of swamp muck, would decay nearly as fast as rotted
stable dung.

It might appear from the above statement, that the effect of exposing
peat to the air, as is done when it is incorporated with the soil, would
be to increase relatively the amount of soluble organic matters; but the
truth is, that they are often actually diminished. In fact, the
oxidation and consequent removal of these soluble matters (crenic and
apocrenic acids,) is likely to proceed more rapidly than they can be
produced from the less soluble humic acid of the peat.

IV.--_Comparison of Peat with Stable Manure._

The fertilizing value of peat is best understood by comparing it with
some standard manure. Stable manure is obviously that fertilizer whose
effects are most universally observed and appreciated, and by setting
analyses of the two side by side, we may see at a glance, what are the
excellencies and what the deficiencies of peat. In order rightly to
estimate the worth of those ingredients which occur in but small
proportion in peat, we must remember that it, like stable manure, may
be, and usually should be, applied in large doses, so that in fact the
smallest ingredients come upon an acre in considerable quantity. In
making our comparison, we will take the analysis of Peat from the farm
of Mr. Daniel Buck, Jr., of Poquonock, Conn., and the average of
several analyses of rotted stable dung of _good quality_.

No. _I_, is the analysis of Peat; No. _II_, that of well rotted stable

                                              _I._      _II._
 Water expelled at 212 degrees.              79.000     79.00
         {Soluble in dilute solution                 }
 Org.    {     of carbonate of soda.          7.312  }
 Matter. {Insoluble in solution                      }  14.16
         {     of carbonate of soda.         12.210  }
 Potash.                                      0.010      0.65
 Soda.                                        0.009
 Lime.                                        0.608      0.57
 Magnesia.                                    0.091      0.19
 Phosphoric acid.                             0.008      0.23
 Sulphuric acid.                              0.082      0.27
 Nitrogen.                                    0.600      0.55
 Matters, soluble in water.                   0.450      4.42

To make the comparison as just as possible, the peat is calculated with
the same content of water, that stable dung usually has.

We observe then, that the peat contains in a given quantity, _about
one-third more organic matter, an equal amount of lime and nitrogen_;
but is _deficient in potash, magnesia, phosphoric and sulphuric acids_.

The deficiencies of this peat in the matter of composition may be
corrected, as regards potash, by adding to 100 lbs. of it 1 lb. of
potash of commerce, or 5 lbs. of unleached wood-ashes; as regards
phosphoric and sulphuric acids, by adding 1 lb. of good superphosphate,
or 1 lb. each of bone dust and plaster of Paris.

In fact, the additions just named, will convert _any fresh peat_,
containing not more than 80 _per cent._ of water and not less than 20
_per cent._ of organic matter, into a mixture having as much fertilizing
matters as stable dung, with the possible exception of nitrogen.

It is a fact, however, that two manures may reveal to the chemist the
same composition, and yet be very unlike in their fertilizing effects,
because their conditions are unlike, because they differ in their
degrees of solubility or availability.

As before insisted upon, it is true in general, that peat is more slow
of decomposition than yard-manure, and this fact, which is an advantage
in an amendment, is a disadvantage in a fertilizer. Though there may be
some peats, or rather swamp mucks, which are energetic and rapid in
their action, it seems that they need to be applied in larger quantities
than stable manure in order to produce corresponding fertilizing
effects. In many cases peat requires some preparation by weathering, or
by chemical action--"fermentation"--induced by decomposing animal
matters or by alkalies. This topic will shortly be discussed.

We adopt, as a general fact, the conclusion that peat is inferior in
fertilizing power to stable manure.

Experience asserts, however, with regard to some individual kinds, that
they are equal to common yard manure without any preparation whatever.

Mr. Daniel Buck, of Poquonock, Conn., says, of the 'muck,' over-lying
the peat, whose composition has just been compared with stable manure,
that it "has been applied fresh to meadow with good results; the grass
is not as tall but thicker and finer, and of a darker green in the
spring, than when barn-yard manure is spread on."

A swamp muck, from Mr. A. M. Haling, Rockville, Conn., "has been used as
a top-dressing, on grass, with excellent results. It is a good
substitute for barn-yard manure."

A peat, from Mr. Russell U. Peck, of Berlin, Conn., "has been used
fresh, on corn and meadow, with good effect."

Of the peat, from the 'Beaver Pond,' near New Haven, Mr. Chauncey
Goodyear, says, "it has been largely used in a fresh state, and in this
condition is as good as cow dung."

Mr. Henry Keeler, remarks, concerning a swamp muck occurring at South
Salem, N. Y., that "it has been used in the fresh state, applied to corn
and potatoes, and appears to be equal to good barn manure:"
further:--"it has rarely been weathered more than two months, and then
applied side by side with the best yard manure has given equally good

A few words as to the apparent contradiction between Chemistry, which
says that peat is not equal to stable dung as a fertilizer, and
Practice, which in these cases affirms that it is equal to our standard

In the first place, the chemical conclusion is a general one, and does
not apply to individual peats, which, in a few instances, may be
superior to yard manure. The practical judgment also is, that, in
general, yard manure is the best.

To go to the individual cases; second: A peat in which nitrogen exists
in as large a proportion as is found in stable or yard manure, being
used in larger quantity, or being more durable in its action, may for a
few seasons produce better results than the latter, merely on account of
the presence of this one ingredient, it may in fact, for the soil and
crop to which it is applied, be a better fertilizer than yard manure,
because nitrogen is most needed in that soil, and yet for the generality
of soils, or in the long run, it may prove to be an inferior fertilizer.

Again; third--the melioration of the physical qualities of a soil, the
amendment of its dryness and excessive porosity, by means of peat, may
be more effective for agricultural purposes, than the application of
tenfold as much fertilizing, _i. e._ plant-feeding materials; in the
same way that the mere draining of an over-moist soil often makes it
more productive than the heaviest manuring.

2.--_On the characters of Peat that are detrimental, or that may
sometimes need correction before it is agriculturally useful._

I.--_Bad effects on wet heavy soils._

We have laid much stress on the amending qualities of peat, when applied
to dry and leachy soils, which by its use are rendered more retentive of
moisture and manure. These properties, which it would seem, are just
adapted to renovate very light land, under certain circumstances, may
become disadvantageous on heavier soils. On clays no application is
needed to retain moisture. They are already too wet as a general thing.

Peat, when put into the soil, lasts much longer than stubble, or green
crops plowed in, or than long manure. If buried too deeply, or put into
a heavy soil, especially if in large quantity, it does not decay, but
remains wet, and tends to make a bog of the field itself.

For soils that are rather heavy, it is therefore best to compost the
peat with some rapidly fermenting manure. We thus get a compound which
is quicker than muck, and slower than stable manure, etc., and is
therefore better adapted to the wants of the soil than either of these
would be alone.

Here it will be seen that much depends on the character of the peat
itself. If light and spongy, and easily dried, it may be used alone with
advantage on loamy soils, whereas if dense, and coherent, it would most
likely be a poor amendment on a soil which has much tendency to become
compact, and therefore does not readily free itself from excess of

But even a clay soil, if _thorough-drained and deeply plowed_, may be
wonderfully improved by even a heavy dressing of muck, as then, the
water being let off, the muck can exert no detrimental action; but
operates as effectually to loosen a too heavy soil, as in case of sand,
it makes an over-porous soil compact or retentive. A clay may be made
friable, if well drained, by incorporating with it any substance as
lime, sand, long manure or muck, which interposing between the clayey
particles, prevents their adhering together.

II.--_Noxious ingredients._

a. _Vitriol peat._ Occasionally a peat is met with which is injurious if
applied in the fresh state to crops, from its containing some substance
which exerts a poisonous action on vegetation. The principal detrimental
ingredients that occur in peat, appear to be sulphate of protoxide of
iron,--the same body that is popularly known under the names copperas
and green-vitriol,--and sulphate of alumina, the astringent component of

I have found these substances ready formed in large quantity in but one
of the peats that I have examined, viz.: that sent me by Mr. Perrin
Scarborough; of Brooklyn, Conn. This peat dissolved in water to the
extent of 15 _per cent._, and the soluble portion, although containing
some organic matter and sulphate of lime, consisted in great part of

Portions of this muck, when thrown up to the air, become covered with "a
white crust, having the taste of alum or saltpeter."

The bed containing this peat, though drained, yields but a little poor
bog hay, and the peat itself, even after weathering for a year, when
applied, mixed with one-fifth of stable manure to corn in the hill, gave
no encouraging results, though a fair crop was obtained. It is probable
that the sample analyzed was much richer in salts of iron and alumina,
than the average of the muck.

Green-vitriol in minute doses is not hurtful, but rather beneficial to
vegetation; but in larger quantity it is fatally destructive.

In a salt-marsh mud sent me by the Rev. Wm. Clift, of Stonington, Conn.,
there was found sulphate of iron in considerable quantity.

This noxious substance likewise occurred in small amount in swamp muck
from E. Hoyt, Esq., New Canaan, Conn., and in hardly appreciable
quantity in several others that I have examined. Besides green-vitriol,
it is possible that certain organic salts of iron, may be deleterious.

The poisonous properties of vitriol-peats may be effectually corrected
by composting with lime, or wood-ashes. By the action of these
substances, sulphate of lime, (plaster of Paris) is formed, while the
iron separates as peroxide, which, being insoluble, is without
deleterious effect on vegetation. Where only soluble organic salts of
iron (crenate of iron) are present, simple exposure to the air suffices
to render them innocuous.

b. _The acidity of Peats._--Many writers have asserted that peat and
muck possess a hurtful "acidity" which must be corrected before they can
be usefully employed. It is indeed a fact, that peat consists largely of
acids, but, except perhaps in the vitriol-peats, (those containing
copperas,) they are so insoluble, or if soluble, are so quickly modified
by the absorption of oxygen, that they do not exhibit any "acidity" that
can be deleterious to vegetation. It is advised to neutralize this
supposed acidity by lime or an alkali before using peat as a fertilizer
or amendment, and there is great use in such mixtures of peat with
alkaline matters, as we shall presently notice under the head of

By the word acidity is conveyed the idea of something hurtful to plants.
This something is, doubtless, in many cases, the salts of iron we have
just noticed. In others, it is simply the inertness, "coldness" of the
peat, which is not positively injurious, but is, for a time at least, of
no benefit to the soil.

c. _Resinous matters_ are mentioned by various writers as injurious
ingredients of peat, but I find no evidence that this notion is
well-founded. The peat or muck formed from the decay of resinous wood
and leaves does not appear to be injurious, and the amount of resin in
peat is exceedingly small.

3.--_The Preparation of Peat for Agricultural use._

a. _Excavation._--As to the time and manner of getting out peat, the
circumstances of each case must determine. I only venture here to offer
a few hints on this subject, which belongs so exclusively to the farm.
The month of August is generally the appropriate time for throwing up
peat, as then the swamps are usually most free from water, and most
accessible to men and teams; but peat is often dug to best advantage in
the winter, not only on account of the cheapness of labor, and from
there being less hurry with other matters on the farm at that season,
but also, because the freezing and thawing of the peat that is thrown
out, greatly aid to disintegrate it and prepare it for use.

A correspondent of The _Homestead_, signing himself "Commentator," has
given directions for getting out peat that are well worth the attention
of farmers. He says:--

     "The composting of muck and peat, with our stable and
     barn-yard manures, is surely destined to become one of the
     most important items in farm management throughout all the
     older States at least. One of the difficulties which lie in
     the way, is the first removal of the muck from its low and
     generally watery bed; to facilitate this, in many locations,
     it is less expensive to dry it before carting, by beginning an
     excavation at the border of the marsh in autumn, sufficiently
     wide for a cart path, throwing the muck out upon the surface
     on each side, and on a floor of boards or planks, to prevent
     it from absorbing moisture from the wet ground beneath; this
     broad ditch to be carried a sufficient length and depth to
     obtain the requisite quantity of muck. Thus thrown out, the
     two piles are now in a convenient form to be covered with
     boards, and, if properly done, the muck kept covered till the
     succeeding autumn, will be found to be dry and light, and in
     some cases may be carted away on the surface, or it may be
     best to let it remain a few months longer until the bottom of
     the ditch has become sufficiently frozen to bear a team; it
     can then be more easily loaded upon a sled or sleigh, and
     drawn to the yards and barn. In other localities, and where
     large quantities are wanted, and it lies deep, a sort of
     wooden railroad and inclined plane can be constructed by means
     of a plank track for the wheels of the cart to run upon, the
     team walking between these planks, and if the vehicle is
     inclined to 'run off the track,' it may usually be prevented
     by scantlings, say four inches thick, nailed upon one of the
     tracks on each side of the place where the wheel should run.
     Two or more teams and carts may now be employed, returning
     into the excavation outside of this track. As the work
     progresses, the track can be extended at both ends, and by
     continuing or increasing the inclination at the upper end, a
     large and high pile may be made, and if kept dry, will answer
     for years for composting, and can be easily drawn to the barn
     at any time."

b. _Exposure, weathering, or seasoning of peat._--In some cases, the
chief or only use of exposing the thrown-up peat to the action of the
air and weather during several months or a whole year, is to rid it of
the great amount of water which adheres to it, and thus reduce its bulk
and weight previous to cartage.

The general effect of exposure as indicated by my analyses, is to reduce
the amount of matter soluble in water, and cause peats to approach in
this respect a fertile soil, so that instead of containing 2, 4, or 6
_per cent._ of substances soluble in water, as at first, they are
brought to contain but one-half these amounts, or even less. This
change, however, goes on so rapidly after peat is mingled with the soil,
that previous exposure on this account is rarely necessary, and most
peats might be used perfectly fresh but for the difficulty often
experienced, of reducing them to such a state of division as to admit of
proper mixture with the soil.

The coherent peats which may be cut out in tough blocks, must be
weathered, in order that the fibres of moss or grass-roots, which give
them their consistency, may be decomposed or broken to an extent
admitting of easy pulverization by the instruments of tillage.

The subjection of fresh and wet peat to frost, speedily destroys its
coherence and reduces it to the proper state of pulverization. For this
reason, fibrous peat should be exposed when wet to winter weather.

Another advantage of exposure is, to bring the peat into a state of more
active chemical change. Peat, of the deeper denser sorts, is generally
too inert ("sour," cold) to be directly useful to the plant. By exposure
to the air it appears gradually to acquire the properties of the humus
of the soil, or of stable manure, which are vegetable matters, altered
by the same exposure. It appears to become more readily oxidable, more
active, chemically, and thus more capable of exciting or rather aiding
vegetable growth, which, so far as the soil is concerned, is the result
of chemical activities.

Account has been already given of certain peats, which, used fresh, are
accounted equal or nearly equal to stable manure. Others have come under
the writer's notice, which have had little immediate effect when used
before seasoning.

Mr. J. H. Stanwood says of a peat, from Colebrook, Conn., that it "has
been used to some extent as a top-dressing for grass and other crops
with satisfactory results, _although no particular benefit was
noticeable during the first year_. After that, the effects might be seen
for a number of years."

Rev. Wm. Clift observes, concerning a salt peat, from Stonington,
Conn.:--"It has not been used fresh; is too acid; even potatoes do not
yield well _in it the first season_, without manure."

The nature of the chemical changes induced by weathering, is to some
extent understood so far as the nitrogen, the most important fertilizing
element, is concerned. The nitrogen of peat, as we have seen, is mostly
inert, a small portion of it only, existing in a soluble or available
form. By weathering, portions of this nitrogen become converted into
nitric acid. This action goes on at the surface of the heap, where it is
most fully exposed to the air. Below, where the peat is more moist,
ammonia is formed, perhaps simply by the reduction of nitric acid--not
unlikely also, by the transformation of inert nitrogen. On referring to
the analyses given on page 44, it is seen, that the first two samples
contain but little ammonia and no nitric acid. Though it is not stated
what was the condition of these peats, it is probable they had not been
weathered. The other four samples were weathered, and the weathering had
been the more effectual from the large admixture of sand with them. They
yielded to the analyst very considerable quantities of ammonia and

When a peat contains sulphate of protoxide of iron, or soluble organic
salts of iron, to an injurious extent, these may be converted into other
insoluble and innocuous bodies, by a sufficient exposure to the air.
Sulphate of protoxide of iron is thus changed into sulphate of peroxide
of iron, which is insoluble, and can therefore exert no hurtful effect
on vegetation, while the soluble organic bodies of peat are oxydized and
either converted into carbonic acid gas, carbonate of ammonia and water,
or else made insoluble.

It is not probable, however, that merely throwing up a well
characterized vitriol-peat into heaps, and exposing it thus imperfectly
to the atmosphere, is sufficient to correct its bad qualities. Such
peats need the addition of some alkaline body, as ammonia, lime, or
potash, to render them salutary fertilizers.

c. _This brings us to the subject of composting_, which appears to be
the best means of taking full advantage of all the good qualities of
peat, and of obviating or neutralizing the ill results that might follow
the use of some raw peats, either from a peculiarity in their
composition, (soluble organic compounds of iron, sulphate of protoxide
of iron,) or from too great indestructibility. The chemical changes
(oxidation of _iron_ and _organic acids_), which prepare the inert or
even hurtful ingredients of peat to minister to the support of
vegetation, take place most rapidly in presence of certain other

The substances which rapidly induce chemical change in peats, are of two
kinds, viz.: 1.--animal or vegetable matters that are highly susceptible
to alteration and decay, and 2.--alkalies, either _ammonia_ coming from
the decomposition of animal matters, or _lime_, _potash_ and _soda_.

A great variety of matters may of course be employed for making or
mixing with peat composts; but there are comparatively few which allow
of extensive and economical use, and our notice will be confined to

First of all, the composting of peat with _animal manures_ deserves
attention. Its advantages may be summed up in two statements.

1.--It is an easy and perfect method of economizing all such manures,
even those kinds most liable to loss by fermentation, as night soil and
horse dung; and,

2.--It develops most fully and speedily the inert fertilizing qualities
of the peat itself.

Without attempting any explanation of the changes undergone by a peat
and manure compost, further than to say that the fermentation which
begins in the manure extends to and involves the peat, reducing the
whole nearly, if not exactly, to the condition of well-rotted dung, and
that in this process the peat effectually prevents the loss of nitrogen
as ammonia,--I may appropriately give the practical experience of
farmers who have proved in the most conclusive manner how profitable it
is to devote a share of time and labor to the manufacture of this kind
of compost.

_Preparation of Composts with Stable Manure._--The best plan of
composting is to have a water tight trench, four inches deep and twenty
inches wide, constructed in the stable floor, immediately behind the
cattle, and every morning put a bushel-basketful of muck behind each
animal. In this way the urine is perfectly absorbed by the muck, while
the warmth of the freshly voided excrements so facilitates the
fermentative process, that, according to Mr. F. Holbrook, Brattleboro,
Vt., who has described this method, _much more muck can thus be well
prepared for use_ in the spring, than by any of the ordinary modes of
composting. When the dung and muck are removed from the stable, they
should be well intermixed, and as fast as the compost is prepared, it
should be put into a compact heap, and covered with a layer of muck
several inches thick. It will then hardly require any shelter if used in
the spring.

If the peat be sufficiently dry and powdery, or free from tough lumps,
it may usefully serve as bedding, or litter for horses and cattle, as it
absorbs the urine, and is sufficiently mixed with the dung in the
operation of cleaning the stable. It is especially good in the pig-pen,
where the animals themselves work over the compost in the most thorough
manner, especially if a few kernels of corn be occasionally scattered
upon it.

Mr. Edwin Hoyt, of New Canaan, Conn., writes:--"Our horse stables are
constructed with a movable floor and pit beneath, which holds 20 loads
of muck of 25 bushels per load. Spring and fall, this pit is filled with
fresh muck, which receives all the urine of the horses, and being
occasionally worked over and mixed, furnishes us annually with 40 loads
of the most valuable manure."

"Our stables are sprinkled with muck every morning, at the rate of one
bushel per stall, and the smell of ammonia, etc., so offensive in most
stables, is never perceived in ours. Not only are the stables kept
sweet, but the ammonia is saved by this procedure."

When it is preferred to make the compost out of doors, the plan
generally followed is to lay down a bed of weathered peat, say eight to
twelve inches thick; cover this with a layer of stable dung, of four to
eight inches; put on another stratum of peat, and so, until a heap of
three to four feet is built up. The heap may be six to eight feet wide,
and indefinitely long. It should be finished with a thick coating of
peat, and the manure should be covered as fast as brought out.

The proportions of manure and peat should vary somewhat according to
their quality and characters. Strawy manure, or that from milch-cows,
will "ferment" less peat than clear dung, especially when the latter is
made by horses or highly fed animals. Some kinds of peat heat much
easier than others. There are peats which will ferment of themselves in
warm moist weather--even in the bog, giving off ammonia in perceptible
though small amount. Experience is the only certain guide as to the
relative quantities to be employed, various proportions from one to five
of peat for one of manure, by bulk, being used.

When the land is light and needs amending, as regards its retentive
power, it is best to make the quantity of peat as large as can be
thoroughly fermented by the manure.

The making of a high heap, and the keeping it trim and in shape, is a
matter requiring more labor than is generally necessary. Mr. J. H.
Stanwood, of Colebrook, Conn., writes me:--

"My method of composting is as follows: I draw my muck to the barn-yard,
placing the loads as near together as I can tip them from the cart. Upon
this I spread whatever manure I have at hand, and mix with the feet of
the cattle, and heap up with a scraper."

Peat may be advantageously used to save from waste the droppings of the

Mr. Edwin Hoyt, of New Canaan, Conn., says:--"We use muck largely in our
barn-yards, and after it becomes thoroughly saturated and intermixed
with the droppings of the stock, it is piled up to ferment, and the yard
is covered again with fresh muck."

Mr. N. Hart, Jr., of West Cornwall, Conn., writes:--"In the use of muck
we proceed as follows: Soon after haying we throw up enough for a year's
use, or several hundred loads. In the fall, the summer's accumulation in
hog-pens and barn cellars is spread upon the mowing grounds, and a
liberal supply of muck carted in and spread in the bottoms of the
cellars, ready for the season for stabling cattle. When this is well
saturated with the drippings of the stables, a new supply is added. The
accumulation of the winter is usually applied to the land for the corn
crop, except the finer portion, which is used to top-dress meadow land.
A new supply is then drawn in for the swine to work up. This is added to
from time to time, and as the swine are fed on whey, they will convert a
large quantity into valuable manure for top-dressing mowing land."

A difference of opinion exists as to the treatment of the compost. Some
hold it indifferent whether the peat and manure are mixed, or put in
layers when the composting begins. Others assert, that the fermentation
proceeds better when the ingredients are stratified. Some direct, that
the compost should not be stirred. The general testimony is, that
mixture, at the outset, is as effectual as putting up in layers; but,
if the manure be strawy, it is, of course, difficult or impracticable to
mix at first. Opinion also preponderates in favor of stirring, during or
after the fermentation.

Mr. Hoyt remarks:--"We are convinced, that the oftener a compost pile of
yard manure and muck is worked over after fermenting, the better. We
work it over and add to it a little more muck and other material, and
the air being thus allowed to penetrate it, a new fermentation or
heating takes place, rendering it more decomposable and valuable."

Rev. Wm. Clift, writes:--"Three or four loads of muck to one of stable
manure, put together in the fall or winter in alternate layers, forked
over twice before spreading and plowing in, may represent the method of

Mr. Adams White, of Brooklyn, Conn., proceeds in a different manner. He
says:--"In composting, 20 loads are drawn on to upland in September, and
thrown up in a long pile. Early in the spring 20 loads of stable manure
are laid along side, and covered with the muck. As soon as it has heated
moderately, the whole is forked over and well mixed."

Those who have practiced making peat composts with their yard, stable,
and pen manure, almost invariably find them highly satisfactory in use,
especially upon light soils.

A number of years ago, I saw a large pile of compost in the farm-yard of
Mr. Pond, of Milford, Conn., and witnessed its effect as applied by that
gentleman to a field of sixteen acres of fine gravelly or coarse sandy
soil. The soil, from having a light color and excessive porosity, had
become dark, unctuous, and retentive of moisture, so that during the
drouth of 1856, the crops on this field were good and continued to
flourish, while on the contiguous land they were dried up and nearly
ruined. This compost was made from a light muck, that contained but
three _per cent._ of ash (more than half of which was sand), and but 1.2
_per cent._ of nitrogen, in the air-dry state--(twenty _per cent._ of
water). Three loads of this muck were used to one of stable manure.

Here follow some estimates of the value of this compost by practical
men. They are given to show that older statements, to the same effect,
cannot be regarded as exaggerated.

Mr. J. H. Stanwood, of Colebrook, Conn., says:--"Experiments made by
myself, have confirmed me in the opinion that a compost of equal parts
of muck and stable manure is equal to the same quantity of stable

Mr. Daniel Buck, Jr., of Poquonock, Conn., remarks:--"8 loads of muck
and 4 of manure in compost, when properly forked over, are equal to 12
loads of barn-yard manure on sandy soil."

Rev. Wm. Clift, of Stonington, Conn., writes:--"I consider a compost
made of one load of stable manure and three of muck, equal in value to
four loads of yard manure."

Mr. N. Hart, Jr., of West Cornwall, Conn., observes of a peat sent by
him for analysis:--"We formerly composted it in the yard with stable
manure, but have remodeled our stables, and now use it as an absorbent
and to increase the bulk of manure to double its original quantity. We
consider the mixture more valuable than the same quantity of stable
manure." Again, "so successful has been the use of it, that we could
hardly carry on our farming operations without it."

Mr. Adams White, of Brooklyn, Conn., states:--"The compost of equal
bulks of muck and stable manure, has been used for corn (with plaster in
the hill,) on dry sandy soil to great advantage. I consider the compost
worth more per cord than the barn-yard manure."

_Night Soil_ is a substance which possesses, when fresh, the most
valuable fertilizing qualities, in a very concentrated form. It is also
one which is liable to rapid and almost complete deterioration, as I
have demonstrated by analyses. The only methods of getting the full
effect of this material are, either to use it fresh, as is done by the
Chinese and Japanese on a most extensive and offensive scale; or to
compost it before it can decompose. The former method, will, it is to be
hoped, never find acceptance among us. The latter plan has nearly all
the advantages of the former, without its unpleasant features.

When the night soil falls into a vault, it may be composted, by simply
sprinkling fine peat over its surface, once or twice weekly, as the case
may require, _i. e._ as often as a bad odor prevails. The quantity thus
added, may be from twice to ten times the bulk of the night soil,--the
more within these limits, the better. When the vault is full, the mass
should be removed, worked well over and after a few days standing, will
be ready to use to manure corn, tobacco, etc., in the hill, or for any
purpose to which guano or poudrette is applied. If it cannot be shortly
used, it should be made into a compact heap, and covered with a thick
stratum of peat. When signs of heating appear, it should be watched
closely; and if the process attains too much violence, additional peat
should be worked into it. Drenching with water is one of the readiest
means of checking too much heating, but acts only temporarily. Dilution
with peat to a proper point, which experience alone can teach, is the
surest way of preventing loss. It should not be forgotten to put a thick
layer of peat at the bottom of the vault to begin with.

Another excellent plan, when circumstances admit, is, to have the
earth-floor where the night soil drops, level with the surface of the
ground, or but slightly excavated, and a shed attached to the rear of
the privy to shelter a good supply of peat as well as the compost
itself. Operations are begun by putting down a layer of peat to receive
the droppings; enough should be used to absorb all the urine. When this
is nearly saturated, more should be sprinkled on, and the process is
repeated until the accumulations must be removed to make room for more.
Then, once a week or so, the whole is hauled out into the shed, well
mixed, and formed into a compact heap, or placed as a layer upon a
stratum of peat, some inches thick, and covered with the same. The
quantity of first-class compost that may be made yearly upon any farm,
if due care be taken, would astonish those who have not tried it. James
Smith, of Deanston, Scotland, who originated our present system of
Thorough Drainage, asserted, that the excrements of one man for a year,
are sufficient to manure half an acre of land. In Belgium the manure
from such a source has a commercial value of $9.00 gold.

It is certain, that the skillful farmer may make considerably more than
that sum from it in New England, _per annum_. Mr. Hoyt, of New Canaan,
Conn., says:--

"Our privies are deodorized by the use of muck, which is sprinkled over
the surface of the pit once a week, and from them alone we thus prepare
annually, enough "poudrette" to manure our corn in the hill."

_Peruvian Guano_, so serviceable in its first applications to light
soils, may be composted with muck to the greatest advantage. Guano is an
excellent material for bringing muck into good condition, and on the
other hand the muck most effectually prevents any waste of the costly
guano, and at the same time, by furnishing the soil with its own
ingredients, to a greater or less degree prevents the exhaustion that
often follows the use of guano alone. The quantity of muck should be
pretty large compared to that of the guano,--a bushel of guano will
compost six, eight, or ten of muck. Both should be quite fine, and
should be well mixed, the mixture should be moist and kept covered with
a layer of muck of several inches of thickness. This sort of compost
would probably be sufficiently fermented in a week or two of warm
weather, and should be made and kept under cover.

If no more than five or six parts of muck to one of guano are employed,
the compost, according to the experience of Simon Brown, Esq., of the
Boston _Cultivator_, (Patent Office Report for 1856), will prove
injurious, if placed in the hill in contact with seed, but may be
applied broadcast without danger.

The _Menhaden_ or "_White fish_", so abundantly caught along our Sound
coast during the summer months, or any variety of fish may be composted
with muck, so as to make a powerful manure, with avoidance of the
excessively disagreeable stench which is produced when these fish are
put directly on the land. Messrs. Stephen Hoyt & Sons, of New Canaan,
Conn., make this compost on a large scale. I cannot do better than to
give entire Mr. Edwin Hoyt's account of their operations, communicated
to me several years ago.

"During the present season, (1858,) we have composted about 200,000
white fish with about 700 loads (17,500 bushels) of muck. We vary the
proportions somewhat according to the crop the compost is intended for.
For rye we apply 20 to 25 loads per acre of a compost made with 4,500
fish, (one load) and with this manuring, no matter how poor the soil,
the rye will be as large as a man can cradle. Much of ours we have to
reap. For oats we use less fish, as this crop is apt to lodge. For corn,
one part fish to ten or twelve muck is about right, while for grass or
any top-dressing, the proportion of fish may be increased."

"We find it is best to mix the fish in the summer and not use the
compost until the next spring and summer. Yet we are obliged to use in
September for our winter rye a great deal of the compost made in July.
We usually compost the first arrivals of fish in June for our winter
grain; after this pile has stood three or four weeks, it is worked over
thoroughly. In this space of time the fish become pretty well
decomposed, though they still preserve their form and smell
outrageously. As the pile is worked over, a sprinkling of muck or
plaster is given to retain any escaping ammonia. At the time of use in
September the fish have completely disappeared, bones and fins

"The effect on the muck is to blacken it and make it more loose and
crumbly. As to the results of the use of this compost, we find them in
the highest degree satisfactory. We have raised 30 to 35 bushels of rye
per acre on land that without it could have yielded 6 or 8 bushels at
the utmost. This year we have corn that will give 60 to 70 bushels per
acre, that otherwise would yield but 20 to 25 bushels. It makes large
potatoes, excellent turnips and carrots."

Fish compost thus prepared, is a uniform mass of fishy but not
putrefactive odor, not disagreeable to handle. It retains perfectly all
the fertilizing power of the fish. Lands, manured with this compost,
will keep in heart and improve: while, as is well known to our coast
farmers, the use of fish alone is ruinous in the end, on light soils.

It is obvious that _any other easily decomposing animal matters, as
slaughter-house offal, soap boiler's scraps, glue waste, horn shavings,
shoddy, castor pummace, cotton seed-meal, etc., etc._, may be composted
in a similar manner, and that several or all these substances may be
made together into one compost.

In case of the composts with yard manure, guano and other animal
matters, the alkali, _ammonia_, formed in the fermentation, greatly
promotes chemical change, and it would appear that this substance, on
some accounts, excels all others in its efficacy. The other alkaline
bodies, _potash_, _soda_ and _lime_, are however scarcely less active in
this respect, and being at the same time, of themselves, useful
fertilizers, they also may be employed in preparing muck composts.

_Potash-lye_ and _soda-ash_ have been recommended for composting with
muck; but, although they are no doubt highly efficacious, they are too
costly for extended use.

The other alkaline materials that may be cheaply employed, and are
recommended, are _wood-ashes_, leached and unleached, _ashes of peat_,
_shell marl_, (consisting of carbonate of lime,) _quick lime_, _gas
lime_, and what is called "_salt and lime mixture_."

With regard to the proportions to be used, no very definite rules can be
laid down; but we may safely follow those who have had experience in the
matter. Thus, to a cord of muck, which is about 100 bushels, may be
added, of unleached wood ashes twelve bushels, or of leached wood ashes
twenty bushels, or of peat ashes twenty bushels, or of marl, or of gas
lime twenty bushels. Ten bushels of quick lime, slaked with water or
salt-brine previous to use, is enough for a cord of muck.

Instead of using the above mentioned substances singly, any or all of
them may be employed together.

The muck should be as fine and free from lumps as possible, and must be
intimately mixed with the other ingredients by shoveling over. The mass
is then thrown up into a compact heap, which may be four feet high. When
the heap is formed, it is well to pour on as much water as the mass will
absorb, (this may be omitted if the muck is already quite moist,) and
finally the whole is covered over with a few inches of pure muck, so as
to retain moisture and heat. If the heap is put up in the Spring, it may
stand undisturbed for one or two months, when it is well to shovel it
over and mix it thoroughly. It should then be built up again, covered
with fresh muck, and allowed to stand as before until thoroughly
decomposed. The time required for this purpose varies with the kind of
muck, and the quality of the other material used. The weather and
thoroughness of intermixture of the ingredients also materially affect
the rapidity of decomposition. In all cases five or six months of summer
weather is a sufficient time to fit these composts for application to
the soil.

Mr. Stanwood of Colebrook, Conn., says: "I have found a compost made of
two bushels of unleached ashes to twenty-five of muck, superior to
stable manure as a top-dressing for grass, on a warm, dry soil."

N. Hart, Jr., of West Cornwall, Conn., states: "I have mixed 25 bushels
of ashes with the same number of loads of muck, and applied it to 3/4 of
an acre. The result was far beyond that obtained by applying 300 lbs.
best guano to the same piece."

The use of "_salt and lime mixture_" is so strongly recommended, that a
few words may be devoted to its consideration.

When quick-lime is slaked with a brine of common salt (chloride of
sodium), there are formed by double decomposition, small portions of
caustic soda and chloride of calcium, which dissolve in the liquid. If
the solution stand awhile, carbonic acid is absorbed from the air,
forming carbonate of soda: but carbonate of soda and chloride of calcium
instantly exchange their ingredients, forming insoluble carbonate of
lime and reproducing common salt.

When the fresh mixture of quick-lime and salt is incorporated with _any
porous body_, as soil or peat, then, as Graham has shown, _unequal
diffusion_ of the caustic soda and chloride of calcium occurs from the
point where they are formed, through the moist porous mass, and the
result is, that the small portion of caustic soda which diffuses most
rapidly, or the carbonate of soda formed by its speedy union with
carbonic acid, is removed from contact with the chloride of calcium.

Soda and carbonate of soda are more soluble in water and more strongly
alkaline than lime. They, therefore, act on peat more energetically than
the latter. It is on account of the formation of soda and carbonate of
soda from the lime and salt mixture, that this mixture exerts a more
powerful decomposing action than lime alone. Where salt is cheap and
wood ashes scarce, the mixture may be employed accordingly to advantage.
Of its usefulness we have the testimony of practical men.

Says Mr. F. Holbrook of Vermont, (Patent Office Report for 1856, page
193.) "I had a heap of seventy-five half cords of muck mixed with lime
in the proportion of a half cord of muck to a bushel of lime. The muck
was drawn to the field when wanted in August. A bushel of salt to six
bushels of lime was dissolved in water enough to slake the lime down to
a fine dry powder, the lime being slaked no faster than wanted, and
spread immediately while warm, over the layers of muck, which were about
six inches thick; then a coating of lime and so on, until the heap
reached the height of five feet, a convenient width, and length enough
to embrace the whole quantity of the muck. In about three weeks a
powerful decomposition was apparent, and the heap was nicely overhauled,
nothing more being done to it till it was loaded the next Spring for
spreading. The compost was spread on the plowed surface of a dry sandy
loam at the rate of about fifteen cords to the acre, and harrowed in.
The land was planted with corn and the crop was more than sixty bushels
to the acre."

Other writers assert that they "have decomposed with this mixture, spent
tan, saw dust, corn stalks, swamp muck, leaves from the woods, indeed
every variety of inert substance, and in _much shorter time than it
could be done by any other means_." (Working Farmer, Vol. III. p. 280.)

Some experiments that have a bearing on the efficacy of this compost
will be detailed presently.

There is no doubt that the soluble and more active (caustic) forms of
alkaline bodies exert a powerful decomposing and solvent action on peat.
It is asserted too that the _nearly insoluble and less active matters of
this kind_, also have an effect, though a less complete and rapid one.
Thus, _carbonate of lime_ in the various forms of chalk, shell marl,[6]
old mortar, leached ashes and peat ashes, (for in all these it is the
chief and most "alkaline" ingredient,) is recommended to compost with
peat. Let us inquire whether carbonate of lime can really exert any
noticeable influence in improving the fertilizing quality of peat.

In the case of vitriol peats, carbonate of lime is the cheapest and most
appropriate means of destroying the noxious sulphate of protoxide of
iron, and correcting their deleterious quality. When carbonate of lime
is brought in contact with sulphate of protoxide of iron, the two bodies
mutually decompose, with formation of sulphate of lime (gypsum) and
carbonate of protoxide of iron. The latter substance absorbs oxygen from
the air with the utmost avidity, and passes into the peroxide of iron,
which is entirely inert.

The admixture of any earthy matter with peat, will facilitate its
decomposition, and make it more active chemically, in so far as it
promotes the separation of the particles of the peat from each other,
and the consequent access of air. This benefit may well amount to
something when we add to peat one-fifth of its bulk of marl or leached
ashes, but the question comes up: Do these insoluble mild alkalies exert
any direct action? Would not as much soil of any kind be equally
efficacious, by promoting to an equal degree the contact of oxygen from
the atmosphere?

There are two ways in which carbonate of lime may exert a chemical
action on the organic matters of peat. Carbonate of lime, itself, in the
forms we have mentioned, is commonly called insoluble in water. It is,
however, soluble to a very slight extent; it dissolves, namely, in about
30,000 times its weight of pure water. It is nearly thirty times more
soluble in water saturated with carbonic acid; and this solution has
distinct alkaline characters. Since the water contained in a heap of
peat must be considerably impregnated with carbonic acid, it follows
that when carbonate of lime is present, the latter must form a
solution, very dilute indeed, but still capable of some direct effect on
the organic matters of the peat, when it acts through a long space of
time. Again, it is possible that the solution of carbonate of lime in
carbonic acid, may act to liberate some ammonia from the soluble
portions of the peat, and this ammonia may react on the remainder of the
peat to produce the same effects as it does in the case of a compost
made with animal matters.

Whether the effects thus theoretically possible, amount to anything
practically important, is a question of great interest. It often happens
that opinions entertained by practical men, not only by farmers, but by
mechanics and artisans as well, are founded on so untrustworthy a basis,
are supported by trials so destitute of precision, that their accuracy
may well be doubted, and from all the accounts I have met with, it does
not seem to have been well established, practically, that composts made
with carbonate of lime, are better than the peat and carbonate used

Carbonate of lime (leached ashes, shell marl, etc.), is very well to use
_in conjunction with_ peat, to furnish a substance or substances needful
to the growth of plants, and supply the deficiencies of peat as regards
composition. Although in the agricultural papers, numerous accounts of
the efficacy of such mixtures are given, we do not learn from them
whether these bodies exert any such good effect upon the peat itself, as
to warrant the trouble of making a _compost_.

4.--_Experiments by the author on the effect of alkaline bodies in
developing the fertilizing power of Peat._

During the summer of 1862, the author undertook a series of experiments
with a view of ascertaining the effect of various composting materials
upon peat.

Two bushels of peat were obtained from a heap that had been weathering
for some time on the "Beaver Meadow," near New Haven. This was
thoroughly air-dried, then crushed by the hand, and finally rubbed
through a moderately fine sieve. In this way, the peat was brought to a
perfectly homogeneous condition.

Twelve-quart flower-pots, new from the warehouse, were filled as
described below; the trials being made in duplicate:--

Pots 1 and 2 contained each 270 grammes of peat.

Pots 3 and 4 contained each 270 grammes of peat, mixed-with 10 grammes
of ashes of young grass.

Pots 5 and 6 contained each 270 grammes of peat, 10 grammes of ashes,
and 10 grammes of carbonate of lime.

Pots 7 and 8 contained each 270 grammes of peat, 10 grammes of ashes,
and 10 grammes of slaked (hydrate of) lime.

Pots 9 and 10 contained each 270 grammes of peat, 10 grammes of ashes,
and 5 grammes of lime, slaked with strong solution of common salt.

Pots 11 and 12 contained each 270 grammes of peat, 10 grammes of ashes,
and 3 grammes of Peruvian guano.

In each case the materials were thoroughly mixed together, and so much
water was cautiously added as served to wet them thoroughly. Five
kernels of dwarf (pop) corn were planted in each pot, the weight of each
planting being carefully ascertained.

The pots were disposed in a glazed case within a cold grapery,[7] and
were watered when needful with pure water. The seeds sprouted duly, and
developed into healthy plants. The plants served thus as tests of the
chemical effect of carbonate of lime, of slaked lime, and of salt and
lime mixture, on the peat. The guano pots enabled making a comparison
with a well-known fertilizer. The plants were allowed to grow until
those best developed, enlarged above, not at the expense of the peat,
etc., but of their own lower leaves, as shown by the withering of the
latter. They were then cut, and, after drying in the air, were weighed
with the subjoined results.

 A - _Weight of crops in grammes._
 B - _Comparative weight of crops, the sum of 1. and 2. taken as unity._
 C - _Ratio of weight of crops to weight of seeds, the latter assumed
     as unity._

 _Nos._       _Medium of Growth._           |      A        |  B |    C
   1 }                                      |  1.61}        |    |
   2 }  Peat alone.                         |  2.59}   4.20 |  1 |  2-1/2
                                            |               |    |
   3 }                                      | 14.19}        |    |
   4 }  Peat, and ashes of grass,           | 18.25}  32.44 |  8 | 20-1/2
                                            |               |    |
   5 }                                      | 18.19}        |    |
   6 }  Peat, ashes, and carbonate of lime, | 20.25}  38.44 |  9 | 25-1/2
                                            |               |    |
   7 }                                      | 21.49}        |    |
   8 }  Peat, ashes, and slaked lime,       | 20.73}  42.22 | 10 | 28-1/2
                                            |               |    |
   9 }                                      | 23.08}        |    |
  10 }  Peat, ashes, slaked lime, and salt, | 23.34}  46.42 | 11 | 30-1/2
                                            |               |    |
  11 }                                      | 26.79}        |    |
  12 }  Peat, ashes, and Peruvian Guano,    | 26.99}  53.78 | 13 | 35-1/2

Let us now examine the above results. The experiments 1 and 2,
demonstrate that the peat itself is deficient in something needful to
the plant. In both pots, but 4.2 grammes of crop were produced, a
quantity two and a half times greater than that of the seeds, which
weighed 1.59 grammes. The plants were pale in color, slender, and
reached a height of but about six inches.

Nos. 3 and 4 make evident what are some of the deficiencies of the peat.
A supply of mineral matters, such as are contained in all plants, being
made by the addition of _ashes_, consisting chiefly of phosphates,
carbonates and sulphates of lime, magnesia and potash, a crop is
realized nearly eight times greater than in the previous cases; the
yield being 32.44 grammes, or 20-1/2 times the weight of the seed. The
quantity of ashes added, viz.:--10 grammes, was capable of supplying
every mineral element, greatly in excess of the wants of any crop that
could be grown in a quart of soil. The plants in pots 3 and 4 were much
stouter than those in 1 and 2, and had a healthy color.

The experiments 5 and 6 appear to demonstrate that _carbonate of lime_
considerably aided in converting the peat itself into plant-food. The
ashes alone contained enough carbonate of lime to supply the wants of
the plant in respect to that substance. More carbonate of lime could
only operate by acting on the organic matters of the peat. The amount of
the crop is raised by the effect of carbonate of lime from 32.44 to
38.44 grammes, or from 20-1/2 to 25-1/2 times that of the seed.

Experiments 7 and 8 show, that _slaked lime_ has more effect than the
carbonate, as we should anticipate. Its influence does not, however,
exceed that of the carbonate very greatly, the yield rising from 38.44
to 42.22 grammes, or from 25-1/2 to 28-1/2 times the weight of the seed.
In fact, quick-lime can only act as such for a very short space of time,
since it rapidly combines with the carbonic acid, which is supplied
abundantly by the peat. In experiments 7 and 8, a good share of the
influence exerted must therefore be actually ascribed to the carbonate,
rather than to the quick-lime itself.

In experiments 9 and 10, we have proof that the "_lime and salt
mixture_" has a greater efficacy than lime alone, the crop being
increased thereby from 42.22, to 46.42 grammes, or from 28-1/2 to 30-1/2
times that of the seed.

Finally, we see from experiments 11 and 12 that in all the foregoing
cases it was a limited supply of _nitrogen_ that limited the crop; for,
on adding Peruvian guano, which could only act by this element (its
other ingredients, phosphates of lime and potash, being abundantly
supplied in the ashes), the yield was carried up to 53.78 grammes, or
35-1/2 times the weight of the seed, and 13 times the weight of the crop
obtained from the unmixed peat.

5.--_The Examination of Peat (muck and marsh-mud) with reference to its
Agricultural Value._

Since, as we are forced to conclude, the variations in the composition
of peat stand in no recognizable relations to differences of appearance,
it is only possible to ascertain the value of any given specimen by
actual trial or by chemical investigation.

The method _by practical trial_ is usually the cheaper and more
satisfactory of the two, though a half year or more is needful to gain
the desired information.

It is sufficient to apply to small measured plots of ground, each say
two rods square, known quantities of the fresh, the weathered, and the
composted peat in order, by comparison of the growth and _weight_ of the
crop, to decide the question of their value.

Peat and its composts are usually applied at rates ranging from 20 to 40
wagon or cart loads per acre. There being 160 square rods in the acre,
the quantity proper to a plot of two rods square (= four square rods,)
would be one half to one load.

The composts with stable manure and lime, or salt and lime mixture, are
those which, in general, it would be best to experiment with. From the
effects of the stable manure compost, could be inferred with safety the
value of any compost, of which animal manure is an essential ingredient.

One great advantage of the practical trial on the small scale is, that
the adaptation of the peat or of the compost to the _peculiarities of
the soil_, is decided beyond a question.

It must be borne in mind, however, that the results of experiments can
only be relied upon, when the plots are accurately measured, when the
peat, etc., are applied in known quantities, and when the crops are
separately harvested and carefully weighed.

If experiments are made upon grass or clover, the gravest errors may
arise by drawing conclusions from the appearance of the standing crop.
Experience has shown that two clover crops, gathered from contiguous
plots differently manured, may strikingly differ in appearance, but
yield the same amounts of hay.

The _chemical examination_ of a peat may serve to inform us, without
loss of time, upon a number of important points.

To test a peat for _soluble iron salts_ which might render it
deleterious, we soak and agitate a handful for some hours, with four or
five times its bulk of warm soft water. From a _good fresh-water peat_
we obtain, by this treatment, a yellow liquid, more or less deep in
tint, the taste of which is very slight and scarcely definable.

From a _vitriol peat_ we get a dark-brown or black solution, which has a
bitter, astringent, metallic or inky taste, like that of copperas.

_Salt peat_ will yield a solution having the taste of salt-brine, unless
it contains iron, when the taste of the latter will prevail.

On evaporating the water-solution to dryness and heating strongly in a
China cup, a _vitriol peat_ gives off white choking fumes of sulphuric
acid, and there remains, after burning, brown-red oxide of iron in the

The above testings are easily conducted by any one, with the ordinary
conveniences of the kitchen.

Those that follow, require, for the most part, the chemical laboratory,
and the skill of the practised chemist, for satisfactory execution.

Besides testing for soluble iron compounds, as already indicated, the
points to be regarded in the chemical examination, are:--

1st. _Water or moisture._--This must be estimated, because it is so
variable, and a knowledge of its quantity is needful, if we will compare
together different samples. A weighed amount of the peat is dried for
this purpose at 212° F., as long as it suffers loss.

2d. The _proportions of organic matter and ash_ are ascertained by
carefully burning a weighed sample of the peat. By this trial we
distinguish between peat with 2 to 10 _per cent._ of ash and peaty soil,
or mud, containing but a few _per cent._ of organic matter.

This experiment may be made in a rough way, but with sufficient accuracy
for common purposes, by burning a few lbs. or ozs. of peat upon a piece
of sheet iron, or in a sauce pan, and noting the loss, which includes
both _water_ and _organic matter_.

3d. As further regards the organic matters, we ascertain _the extent to
which the peaty decomposition has taken place_ by boiling with dilute
solution of carbonate of soda. This solvent separates the humic and
ulmic acids from the undecomposed vegetable fibers.

For practical purposes this treatment with carbonate of soda may be
dispensed with, since the amount of undecomposed fiber is gathered with
sufficient accuracy from careful inspection of the peat.

Special examination of the organic acids is of no consequence in the
present state of our knowledge.

4th. The _proportion of nitrogen_ is of the first importance to be
ascertained. In examinations of 30 samples of peat, I have found the
content of nitrogen to range from 0.4 to 2.9 _per cent._, the richest
containing seven times as much as the poorest. It is practically a
matter of great moment whether, for example, a Peruvian guano contains
16 _per cent._ of nitrogen as it should, or but one-seventh that amount,
as it may when grossly adulterated. In the same sense, it is important
before making a heavy outlay in excavating and composting peat, to know
whether (as regards nitrogen) it belongs to the poorer or richer sorts.
This can only be done by the complicated methods known to the chemist.

5th. The estimation of _ammonia_ (actual or ready-formed,) is a matter
of scientific interest, but subordinate in a practical point of view.

6th. _Nitric acid_ and _nitrates_ can scarcely exist in peat except
where it is well exposed to the air, in a merely moist but not wet
state. Their estimation in composts is of great interest, though
troublesome to execute.

7th. As regards the ash, its red color indicates _iron_. Pouring
hydrochloric acid upon it, causes effervescence in the presence of
_carbonate of lime_. This compound, in most cases, has been formed in
the burning, from humate and other organic salts of lime. _Sand_, or
_clay_, being insoluble in the acid, remains, and may be readily

_Phosphoric acid_ and alkalies, especially _potash_, are, next to lime,
the important ingredients of the ash. _Magnesia_ and _sulphuric acid_,
rank next in value. Their estimation requires a number of tedious
operations, and can scarcely be required for practical purposes, until
more ready methods of analyses shall have been discovered.

8th. The quantity of _matters soluble in water_ has considerable
interest, but is not ordinarily requisite to be ascertained.

6.--_Composition of Connecticut Peats_.

In the years 1857 and 1858, the author was charged by the Connecticut
State Agricultural Society[8] with the chemical investigation of 33
samples of peat and swamp muck, sent to him in compliance with official

In the foregoing pages, the facts revealed by the laborious analyses
executed on these samples, have been for the most part communicated,
together with many valuable practical results derived from the
experience of the gentlemen who sent in the specimens. The analytical
data themselves appear to me to be worthy of printing again, for the
information of those who may hereafter make investigations in the same
direction.--See Tables I, II, and III, p.p. 89, 90, and 91.

The specimens came in all stages of dryness. Some were freshly dug and
wet, others had suffered long exposure, so that they were air-dry; some
that were sent in the moist state, became dry before being subjected to
examination; others were prepared for analysis while still moist.

A sufficient quantity of each specimen was carefully pulverized,
intermixed, and put into a stoppered bottle and thus preserved for

The analyses were begun in the winter of 1857 by my assistant, Edward H.
Twining, Esq. The samples 1 to 17 of the subjoined tables were then
analyzed. In the following year the work was continued on the remaining
specimens 18--33 by Dr. Robert A. Fisher. The method of analysis was the
same in both cases, except in two particulars.

In the earlier analyses, 1 to 17 inclusive, the treatment with carbonate
of soda was not carried far enough to dissolve the whole of the soluble
organic acids. It was merely attempted to make _comparative_
determinations by treating all alike for the same time, and with the
same quantity of alkali. I have little doubt that in some cases not more
than one-half of the portion really soluble in carbonate of soda is
given as such. In the later analyses, 18 to 33, however, the treatment
was continued until complete separation of the soluble organic acids was

By acting on a peat for a long time with a hot solution of carbonate of
soda, there is taken up not merely a quantity of organic matter, but
inorganic matters likewise enter solution. Silica, oxyd of iron and
alumina are thus dissolved. In this process too, sulphate of lime is
converted into carbonate of lime.

The total amount of these soluble inorganic matters has been determined
with approximate accuracy in analyses 18 to 33.

In the analyses 1 to 17 the collective amount of matters soluble in
water was determined. In the later analyses the proportions of organic
and inorganic matters in the water-solution were separately estimated.

The process of analysis as elaborated and employed by Dr. Fisher and the
author, is as follows:

I. To prepare a sample for analysis, half a pound, more or less, of the
substance is pulverized and passed through a wire sieve of 24 meshes to
the inch. It is then thoroughly mixed and bottled.

II. 2 grammes of the above are dried (in tared watch-glasses) at the
temperature of 212 degrees, until they no longer decrease in weight. The
loss sustained represents the _amount of water_, (according to MARSILLY,
Annales des Mines, 1857, XII., 404, peat loses carbon if dried at a
temperature higher than 212 degrees.)

III. The capsule containing the residue from I. is slowly heated to
incipient redness, and maintained at that temperature until the organic
matter is entirely consumed. The loss gives the total amount of
_organic_, the residue the total amount of _inorganic_ matter.

NOTE.--In peats containing sulphate of the protoxide of iron, the loss
that occurs during ignition is partly due to the escape of sulphuric
acid, which is set free by the decomposition of the above mentioned salt
of iron. But the quantity is usually so small in comparison with the
organic matter, that it may be disregarded. The same may be said of the
combined water in the clay that is mixed with some mucks, which is only
expelled at a high temperature.

IV. 3 grammes of the sample are digested for half an hour, with 200
cubic centimeters (66.6 times their weight,) of boiling water, then
removed from the sand bath, and at the end of twenty-four hours, the
clear liquid is decanted. This operation is twice repeated upon the
residue; the three solutions are mixed, filtered, concentrated, and
finally evaporated to dryness (in a tared platinum capsule,) over a
water bath. The residue, which must be dried at 212 degrees, until it
ceases to lose weight, gives the _total amount soluble in water_. The
dried residue is then heated to low redness, and maintained at that
temperature until the organic matter is burned off. The loss represents
the amount of _organic matter soluble in water_, the ash gives the
quantity of _soluble inorganic matter_.

V. 1 gramme is digested for two hours, at a temperature just below the
boiling point, with 100 cubic centimeters of a solution containing 5
_per cent._ of crystallized carbonate of soda. It is then removed from
the sand bath and allowed to settle. When the supernatant liquid has
become perfectly transparent, it is carefully decanted. This operation
is repeated until all the organic matter soluble in this menstruum is
removed; which is accomplished as soon as the carbonate of soda solution
comes off colorless. The residue, which is to be washed with boiling
water until the washings no longer affect test papers, is thrown upon a
tared filter, and dried at 212 degrees. It is the _total amount of
organic and inorganic matter insoluble in carbonate of soda_. The loss
that it suffers upon ignition, indicates the amount of _organic matter_,
the ash gives the _inorganic_ matter.

NOTE.--The time required to insure perfect settling after digesting with
carbonate of soda solution, varies, with different peats, from 24 hours
to several days. With proper care, the results obtained are very
satisfactory. Two analyses of No. 6, executed at different times, gave
_total insoluble in carbonate of soda_--1st analysis 23.20 _per cent._;
2d analysis 23.45 _per cent._ These residues yielded respectively 14.30
and 14.15 _per cent._ of ash.

VI. The quantity of _organic matter insoluble in water but soluble in
solution of carbonate of soda_, is ascertained by deducting the joint
weight of the amounts soluble in water, and insoluble in carbonate of
soda, from the total amount of organic matter present. The _inorganic
matter insoluble in water, but soluble in carbonate of soda_, is
determined by deducting the joint weight of the amounts of inorganic
matter soluble in water, and insoluble in carbonate of soda, from the
total inorganic matter.

VII. The amount of nitrogen is estimated by the combustion of 1 gramme
with soda-lime in an iron tube, collection of the ammonia in a standard
solution of sulphuric acid, and determination of the residual free acid
by an equivalent solution of caustic potash and a few drops of tincture
of cochineal as an indicator.

The results of the analyses are given in the following Tables. Table I.
gives the direct results of analysis. In Table II. the analyses are
calculated on dry matter, and the nitrogen upon the organic matters.
Table III. gives a condensed statement of the external characters and
agricultural value[9] of the samples in their different localities, and
the names of the parties supplying them.


 A - _Soluble in water._
 B - _Insol. in water, but soluble in carbonate of soda._
 C - _Insol. in water and carbonate of soda._
 D - _Total._
 E - _Water._
 F - _Nitrogen._
 G - _Total matters soluble in water._

                          |     ORGANIC MATTER.   |
     _From Whom and       |-----+-----+-----+-----+
     Whence Received_     |  A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |
  1. Lewis M. Norton.     |           |     |     |
        Goshen Conn.      |   17.63   |34.79|52.42|
  2.  "   "     "         |   60.02   |11.65|71.67|
  3.  "   "     "         |   50.60   |29.75|80.35|
  4. Messrs. Pond & Miles.|           |     |     |
      " Milford Conn.     |   65.15   |11.95|77.10|
  5.  "   "      "        |   67.75   |16.65|84.40|
  6. Samuel Camp.         |           |     |     |
       Plainville Conn.   |   43.20   | 8.90|52.10|
  7. Russell U. Peck.     |           |     |     |
       Berlin Conn.       |   38.49   |30.51|69.00|
  8. Rev. B. F. Northrop. |           |     |     |
       Griswold Conn.     |   42.30   |10.15|52.45|
  9. J. H. Stanwood.      |           |     |     |
       Colebrook Conn.    |   49.65   | 7.40|57.05|
 10. N. Hart, Jr.         |           |     |     |
       West Cornwall Conn.|   55.11   |10.29|65.40|
 11. A. L. Loveland.      |           |     |     |
        North Granby  "   |   38.27   | 2.89|41.16|
 12. Daniel Buck, Jr.     |           |     |     |
        Poquonock    "    |   27.19   |48.84|76.03|
 13.   "     "        "   |   33.66   |40.51|74.17|
 14. Philip Scarborough   |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |   51.45   |25.00|76.45|
 15. Adams White.         |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |   54.38   |23.14|77.52|
 16. Paris Dyer.          |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |   18.86   | 5.02|23.88|
 17. Perrin Scarborough.  |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |   43.27   |16.83|60.10|
 18. Geo. K. Virgin.      |           |     |     |
        Collinsville Conn.| 2.21|20.57| 8.25|31.03|
 19.  "   "           "   | 1.12| 9.19| 5.10|15.41|
 20.  "   "           "   | 0.72| 9.31| 3.65|13.68|
 21. S. Mead.             |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven Conn.   | 3.30|40.52| 8.20|52.02|
 22. Edwin Hoyt.          |     |     |     |     |
        New Canaan  "     | 2.84|13.42| 7.55|23.81|
 23.  "     "       "     | 2.34|13.49| 8.05|23.88|
 24.  "     "       "     | 1.15|17.29| 8.00|26.44|
 25. A. M. Haling.        |     |     |     |     |
        Rockville   "     | 3.43|52.15| 8.65|64.23|
 26.  "     "       "     | 3.87|71.57| 8.44|83.88|
 27.  "     "       "     | 3.87|44.04| 4.25|52.16|
 28. Albert Day.          |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn    "     | 2.45|46.25| 6.35|55.05|
 29. C. Goodyear.         |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven   "     | 1.80|45.42|10.35|57.57|
 30. Rev. Wm. Clift       |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington  "     | 3.33|51.68| 9.80|64.81|
 31. Henry Keeler.        |     |     |     |     |
        South Salem N. Y. | 2.13|45.12|12.05|59.30|
 32. John Adams.          |     |     |     |     |
        Salisbury Conn.   | 1.71|42.87|10.65|55.23|
 33. Rev. Wm. Clift.      |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington   "    | 5.40|16.72| 7.25|29.37|
                          |     |     |-----|     |
              Average     |     |     | 2.06|     |

                          |   INORGANIC MATTER.   |     |     |
     _From Whom and       |-----+-----+-----+-----|     |     |
     Whence Received_     |  A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G
  1. Lewis M. Norton.     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Goshen Conn.      |     |     |     |35.21|12.37| 1.28| 1.54
  2.  "   "     "         |     |     |     | 8.00|20.33| 1.85|
  3.  "   "     "         |     |     |     | 4.52|15.13| 1.90| 2.51
  4. Messrs. Pond & Miles.|     |     |     |     |     |     |
      " Milford Conn.     |     |     |     | 3.23|19.67| 1.20| 1.63
  5.  "   "      "        |     |     |     | 2.00|13.60|  .95| 3.42
  6. Samuel Camp.         |~~~~~v~~~~~|     |     |     |     |
       Plainville Conn.   |   14.90   |14.80|29.20|18.70| 2.10| 2.50
  7. Russell U. Peck.     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Berlin Conn.       |     |     |     |13.59|17.41| 1.62| 2.61
  8. Rev. B. F. Northrop. |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Griswold Conn.     |     |     |     |34.70|12.85| 1.31| 1.64
  9. J. H. Stanwood.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Colebrook Conn.    |     |     |     | 4.57|38.38| 1.23| 1.83
 10. N. Hart, Jr.         |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       West Cornwall Conn.|     |     |     |14.89|19.71| 2.10| 6.20
 11. A. L. Loveland.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        North Granby  "   |     |     |     |47.24|11.60| 1.00|  .75
 12. Daniel Buck, Jr.     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Poquonock    "    |     |     |     | 5.92|18.05| 2.40| 2.94
 13.   "     "        "   |     |     |     | 8.63|17.20| 2.40| 1.80
 14. Philip Scarborough.  |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |     |     |     | 7.67|15.88| 1.20| 1.43
 15. Adams White.         |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |     |     |     | 9.03|13.45| 2.89| 5.90
 16. Paris Dyer.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |     |     |     |67.77| 8.35| 1.03| 2.63
 17. Perrin Scarborough.  |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |     |     |     |25.78|14.12| 0.86|15.13
 18. Geo. K. Virgin.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Collinsville Conn.| 0.32| 9.41|48.05|57.78|11.19| 0.64| 2.53
 19.  "   "           "   | 0.28| 1.08|48.65|50.01|34.58| 0.34| 1.40
 20.  "   "           "   | 0.25| 0.76|28.20|29.21|57.11| 0.28|  .97
 21. S. Mead.             |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven Conn.   | 2.60|10.02|23.90|36.52|11.46| 1.51| 5.90
 22. Edwin Hoyt.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        New Canaan  "     | 2.72|19.88|46.30|68.90| 7.29| 0.45| 5.56
 23.  "     "       "     | 1.54|12.42|56.20|70.16| 5.96| 0.90| 3.88
 24.  "     "       "     | 1.67|14.13|51.10|66.90| 6.66| 1.01| 2.82
 25. A. M. Haling.        |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Rockville   "     | 0.35| 0.16| 4.90| 5.41|30.36| 1.62| 3.78
 26.  "     "       "     | 0.23|     | 1.98| 2.21|13.91| 1.32| 4.10
 27.  "     "       "     | 0.51| 4.07| 5.05| 9.63|38.21| 1.88| 4.38
 28. Albert Day.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn    "     | 0.32| 0.65| 5.40| 6.37|38.58| 0.84| 2.77
 29. C. Goodyear.         |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven   "     | 0.35| 7.98|18.80|27.13|15.30| 1.68| 2.15
 30. Rev. Wm. Clift       |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington  "     | 2.82|     | 5.86| 8.68|26.51| 0.95| 6.15
 31. Henry Keeler.        |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        South Salem N. Y. | 0.78| 3.79|16.70|21.27|19.43| 1.57| 2.91
 32. John Adams.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Salisbury Conn.   | 1.02| 1.33|14.35|16.70|28.07| 1.76| 2.73
 33. Rev. Wm. Clift.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington   "    | 7.40| 6.40|48.05|61.85| 8.78| 1.32| 2.80
                          |     |     |-----|     |     |-----|-----
              Average     |     |     | 1.44|     |     | 1.37| 3.72

_Calculated in the dry state: the percentage of nitrogen
calculated also on organic matters._

 A - _In this table the matters soluble in water and the
     nitrogen are calculated to two places of decimals;
     the other ingredients are expressed in round
 B - _Soluble in water._
 C - _Insol. in water, but soluble in carbonate of soda._
 D - _Insol. in water and carbonate of soda._
 E - _Total._
 F - _Total matters soluble in water._
 G - _Nitrogen._
 H - _Nitrogen in per cent. of the organic matter._

                          |     ORGANIC MATTER.   |
            A             |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |
  1. Lewis M. Norton.     |           |     |     |
        Goshen Conn.      |     20    |  40 |  60 |
  2.  "   "     "         |     75    |  15 |  90 |
  3.  "   "     "         |     60    |  35 |  95 |
  5. Messrs. Pond & Miles.|           |     |     |
      " Milford Conn.     |     81    |  15 |  96 |
  5.  "   "      "        |     79    |  19 |  98 |
  6. Samuel Camp.         |           |     |     |
       Plainville Conn.   |     53    |  11 |  64 |
  7. Russell U. Peck.     |           |     |     |
       Berlin Conn.       |     46    |  37 |  83 |
  8. Rev. B. F. Northrop. |           |     |     |
       Griswold Conn.     |     48    |  11 |  59 |
  9. J. H. Stanwood.      |           |     |     |
       Colebrook Conn.    |     75    |  11 |  86 |
 10. N. Hart, Jr.         |           |     |     |
       West Cornwall Conn.|     69    |  13 |  82 |
 11. A. L. Loveland.      |           |     |     |
        North Granby  "   |     43    |   4 |  47 |
 12. Daniel Buck, Jr.     |           |     |     |
        Poquonock     "   |     33    |  60 |  93 |
 13.   "     "        "   |     41    |  49 |  90 |
 14. Philip Scarborough.  |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |     61    |  30 |  91 |
 15. Adams White.         |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |     63    |  27 |  90 |
 16. Paris Dyer.          |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |     21    |   5 |  26 |
 17. Perrin Scarborough.  |           |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |     62    |   8 |  70 |
 18. Geo. K. Virgin.      |           |     |     |
        Collinsville Conn.| 2.48|  23 |   9 |  35 |
 19.  "   "           "   | 1.72|  14 |   8 |  23 |
 20.  "   "           "   | 1.67|  22 |   8 |  32 |
 21. Solomon Mead.        |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven Conn.   | 3.70|  48 |   9 |  60 |
 22. Edwin Hoyt.          |     |     |     |     |
        New Canaan  "     | 3.05|  14 |   8 |  26 |
 23.  "     "       "     | 2.47|  14 |   8 |  25 |
 24.  "     "       "     | 1.23|  18 |   9 |  28 |
 25. A. M. Haling.        |     |     |     |     |
        Rockville   "     | 4.90|  75 |  12 |  92 |
 26.  "     "       "     | 4.50|  83 |  10 |  97 |
 27.  "     "       "     | 6.24|  71 |   7 |  84 |
 28. Albert Day.          |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn    "     | 4.01|  76 |  10 |  90 |
 29. C. Goodyear.         |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven   "     | 2.11|  54 |  12 |  68 |
 30. Rev. Wm. Clift       |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington  "     | 4.56|  71 |  13 |  88 |
 31. Henry Keeler.        |     |     |     |     |
        South Salem N. Y. | 2.66|  56 |  15 |  73 |
 32. John Adams.          |     |     |     |     |
        Salisbury Conn.   | 2.37|  59 |  15 |  76 |
 33. Rev. Wm. Clift.      |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington   "    | 5.93|  18 |   8 |  32 |

                          |   INORGANIC MATTER.   |     |     |
                          |-----+-----+-----+-----|     |     |
            A             |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H
  1. Lewis M. Norton.     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Goshen Conn.      |     |     |     | 40  | 1.75| 1.46| 2.25
  2.  "   "     "         |     |     |     | 10  |     | 2.32| 2.58
  3.  "   "     "         |     |     |     |  5  | 2.95| 2.23| 2.36
  5. Messrs. Pond & Miles.|     |     |     |     |     |     |
      " Milford Conn.     |     |     |     |  4  | 2.03| 1.49| 1.55
  5.  "   "      "        |~~~~~v~~~~~|     |  2  | 3.97| 1.09| 1.12
  6. Samuel Camp.         |    18     |  18 |     |     |     |
       Plainville Conn.   |     |     |     | 36  | 3.08| 2.58| 4.03
  7. Russell U. Peck.     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Berlin Conn.       |     |     |     | 17  | 3.27| 1.96| 2.34
  8. Rev. B. F. Northrop. |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Griswold Conn.     |     |     |     | 41  | 1.88| 1.50| 2.49
  9. J. H. Stanwood.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       Colebrook Conn.    |     |     |     | 14  | 2.77| 1.99| 2.15
 10. N. Hart, Jr.         |     |     |     |     |     |     |
       West Cornwall Conn.|     |     |     | 18  | 7.75| 2.61| 3.21
 11. A. L. Loveland.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        North Granby  "   |     |     |     | 53  |  .85| 1.13| 2.43
 12. Daniel Buck, Jr.     |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Poquonock    "    |     |     |     |  7  | 3.58| 2.92| 3.15
 13.   "     "        "   |     |     |     | 10  | 2.16| 2.89| 2.23
 14. Philip Scarborough.  |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |     |     |     |  9  | 1.70| 1.42| 1.57
 15. Adams White.         |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |     |     |     | 10  | 6.78| 3.33| 3.72
 16. Paris Dyer.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn   "      |     |     |     | 74  | 2.85| 1.12| 4.31
 17. Perrin Scarborough.  |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn Conn.    |     |     |     | 30  |17.59| 1.00| 1.43
 18. Geo. K. Virgin.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Collinsville Conn.| 0.35| 11  | 54  | 65  | 2.83| 0.72| 2.06
 19.  "   "           "   |  .43|  2  | 75  | 77  | 2.15| 0.51| 2.20
 20.  "   "           "   |  .58|  2  | 66  | 68  | 2.25| 0.65| 2.04
 21. Solomon Mead.        |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven Conn.   | 2.92| 11  | 27  | 40  | 6.62| 1.70| 2.90
 22. Edwin Hoyt.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        New Canaan  "     | 2.92| 21  | 50  | 74  | 6.07| 0.48| 1.88
 23.  "     "       "     | 1.63| 13  | 60  | 75  | 4.10| 0.95| 3.76
 24.  "     "       "     | 1.79| 15  | 55  | 72  | 3.02| 1.08| 3.82
 25. A. M. Haling.        |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Rockville   "     |  .50|     |  7  |  8  | 5.40| 2.32| 2.52
 26.  "     "       "     |  .27|     |  2  |  3  | 4.77| 1.53| 1.57
 27.  "     "       "     |  .82|  7  |  8  | 16  | 7.06| 3.04| 3.64
 28. Albert Day.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Brooklyn    "     |  .52|  1  |  8  | 10  | 4.58| 1.36| 1.52
 29. C. Goodyear.         |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        New Haven   "     |  .40|  9  | 22  | 32  | 2.51| 1.98| 2.91
 30. Rev. Wm. Clift       |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington  "     | 3.86|     |  8  | 12  | 8.42| 1.29| 1.46
 31. Henry Keeler.        |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        South Salem N. Y. |  .97|  5  | 21  | 27  | 3.63| 1.98| 2.64
 32. John Adams.          |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Salisbury Conn.   | 1.40|  2  | 20  | 24  | 3.77| 2.44| 3.18
 33. Rev. Wm. Clift.      |     |     |     |     |     |     |
        Stonington   "    | 8.13|  7  | 53  | 68  |14.06| 1.44| 4.49


 _No._                       _Color._

  1. Lewis M. Norton     |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |.
  2.    "       "        |    "       "   |
                         |                |
  3.    "       "        |light-brown,    |
                         |                |
  4. Messrs. Pond & Miles|chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
                         |                |
  5.    "         "      |brownish-red,   |
                         |                |
  6. Samuel Camp         |black,          |
                         |                |
  7. Russell U. Peck     |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
  8. Rev. B. F. Northrop |grayish-brown,  |
                         |                |
                         |                |
  9. J. H. Stanwood      |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
 10. N. Hart, Jr         |brownish-black, |
 11. A. L. Loveland      |black,          |
                         |                |
 12. Daniel Buck, Jr     |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
 13.    "      "         |    "       "   |
 14. Philip Scarborough  |                |
                         |                |
 15. Adams White         |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
 16. Paris Dyer          |grayish-black,  |
                         |                |
 17. Perrin Scarborough  |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
                         |                |
 18. Geo. K. Virgin      |light           |
                         | brownish-gray  |
                         |                |
 19.    "      "         |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
 20.    "      "         |black,          |
 21. Solomon Mead        |grayish-brown,  |
                         |                |
                         |                |
 22. Edwin Hoyt          |brownish-gray,  |
                         |                |
 23.   "    "            |       "        |
                         |                |
 24.   "    "            |       "        |
                         |                |
 25. A. M. Haling        |chocolate-brown,|
 26.   "    "            |    "       "   |
 27.   "    "            |    "       "   |
                         |                |
 28. Albert Day          |dark-brown,     |
                         |                |
                         |                |
 29. C. Goodyear         |black,          |
                         |                |
 30. Rev. Wm. Clift      |chocolate-brown,|
                         |                |
                         |                |
 31. Henry Keeler        |light-brown,    |
                         |                |
 32. John Adams          |      "         |
                         |                |
 33. Rev. Wm. Clift      |dark ash-gray,  |
                         |                |

                                      _Condition at Time of Analysis,
 _No._                                   Reputed value, etc._

  1. Lewis M. Norton     |air-dry, tough, compact, heavy; from bottom;
                         |          3 to 4 feet deep; very good in compost.
  2.    "       "        |    "    tough, compact, heavier than 1, from
                         |          near surface; very good in compost.
  3.    "       "        |   "     coherent but light, from between 1 and
                         |          2, very good in compost.
  4. Messrs. Pond & Miles|   "     coherent but light, surface peat,
                         |          considered better than No. 5; good in
                         |          compost.
  5.    "         "      |   "     very light and loose in texture, from
                         |          depth of 3 feet, good in compost.
  6. Samuel Camp         |   "     hard lumps, half as good as yard manure,
                         |          in compost equal to yard manure.
  7. Russell U. Peck     |   "     is good fresh, long exposed, half as
                         |          good as barn-yard manure.
  8. Rev. B. F. Northrop |   "     light, easily crushed masses containing
                         |          sand, has not been used alone, good in
                         |          compost.
  9. J. H. Stanwood      |moist,   hard lumps, used fresh good after first
                         |          year; excellent in compost.
 10. N. Hart, Jr         |air-dry, hard lumps, excellent in compost.
 11. A. L. Loveland      |   "     hard lumps, contains grains of coarse
                         |          sand.
 12. Daniel Buck, Jr     |   "     coherent cakes, good as top dressing on
                         |          grass when fresh; excellent in compost.
 13.    "      "         |   "     light surface layers of No. 12.
 14. Philip Scarborough  |   "     after exposure over winter, has
                        |          one-third value of yard-manure.
 15. Adams White         |   "     hard lumps, good in compost, causes
                         |          great growth of straw.
 16. Paris Dyer          |   "     easily crushed lumps, largely admixed
                         |          with soil.
 17. Perrin Scarborough  |   "     well-characterized "vitriol peat;" in
                         |          compost, after 1 year's exposure, gives
                         |          indifferent results.
 18. Geo. K. Virgin      |   "     light, coherent surface peat; sample
                         |          long exposed; astonishing results on
                         |          sandy soil.
 19.    "      "         |moist,   crumbly, contains much sand, four feet
                         |          from surface.
 20.    "      "         |wet.
 21. Solomon Mead        |air-dry, light, porous, coherent from grass
                         |          roots; long weathered, good; fresh,
                         |          better in compost.
 22. Edwin Hoyt          |   "     loose, light, much mixed with soil,
                         |          good in compost.
 23.   "    "            |   "     No. 22 saturated with horse urine,
                         |          darker than No. 22.
 24.   "    "            |   "     No. 22 composted with white fish,
                         |          darker than No. 23; fish-bones evident.
 25. A. M. Haling        |moist,   fresh dug.
 26.   "    "            |air-dry, No. 25 after two year's weathering.
 27.   "    "            |moist,   fresh dug, good substitute for yard
                         |          manure as top-dressing on grass.
 28. Albert Day          |  "      coherent and hard; fresh dug, but from
                         |          surface where weathered; injurious to
                         |          crops; vitriol peat. (?)
 29. C. Goodyear         |air-dry, very hard tough cakes; when fresh dug,
                         |          "as good as cow dung."
 30. Rev. Wm. Clift      |moist,   from an originally fresh water bog,
                         |          broken into 100 years ago by tide, now
                         |          salt marsh; good after weathering.
 31. Henry Keeler        |air-dry, leaf-muck, friable; when fresh, appears
                         |          equal to good yard manure.
 32. John Adams          |moist,   overlies shell marl, fresh or weathered
                         |          does not compare with ordinary manure.
 33. Rev. Wm. Clift      |air-dry, from bottom of salt ditch, where tide
                         |          flows daily; contains sulphate of iron.


[2] The oxygen thus absorbed by water, serves for the respiration of
fish and aquatic animals.

[3] This sample contained also fish-bones, hence the larger content of
nitrogen was not entirely due to absorbed ammonia.

[4] Reichardt's analyses are probably inaccurate, and give too much
ammonia and nitric acid.

[5] These analyses were executed--A by Professor G. F. Barker; B by Mr.
O. C. Sparrow; C by Mr. Peter Collier.

[6] _Shell marl_, consisting of fragments and powder of fresh-water
shells, is frequently met with, underlying peat beds. Such a deposit
occurs on the farm of Mr. John Adams, in Salisbury, Conn. It is eight to
ten feet thick. An air-dry sample, analyzed under the writer's
direction, gave results as follows:

 "Water                                                  30.62
                {soluble in water             0.70}
 Organic matter {                                 }       6.52
                {insoluble in water           5.82}
 Carbonate of lime                                       57.09
 Sand                                                     1.86
 Oxide of iron and alumina, with traces of potash,
 magnesia, sulphuric and phosphoric acid                  3.91

Another specimen from near Milwaukee, Wis., said to occur there in
immense quantities underlying peat, contained, by the author's

 Water                                                    1.14
 Carbonate of lime                                       92.41
 Carbonate of magnesia                                    3.43
 Peroxide of iron with a trace of phosphoric acid         0.92
 Sand                                                     1.60

[7] To the kindness of Joseph Sheffield, Esq., of New Haven, the author
is indebted for facilities in carrying on these experiments.

[8] At the instigation of Henry A. Dyer, Esq., at that time the
Society's Corresponding Secretary.

[9] Derived from the communications published in the author's Report.
Trans. Conn. State Ag. Soc. 1858 p.p. 101-153.



1.--_Kinds of peat that make the best fuel._

The value of peat for fuel varies greatly, like its other qualities.
Only those kinds which can be cut out in the shape of coherent blocks,
or which admit of being artificially formed into firm masses, are of use
in ordinary stoves and furnaces. The powdery or friable surface peat,
which has been disintegrated by frost and exposure, is ordinarily
useless as fuel, unless it be rendered coherent by some mode of
preparation. Unripe peat which contains much undecomposed moss or grass
roots, which is therefore very light and porous, is in general too bulky
to make an effective heating material before subjection to mechanical

The best peat for burning, is that which is most free from visible fiber
or undecomposed vegetable matters, which has therefore a homogeneous
brown or black aspect, and which is likewise free from admixture of
earthy substances in the form of sand or clay. Such peat is unctuous
when moist, shrinks greatly on drying, and forms hard and heavy masses
when dry. It is usually found at a considerable depth, where it has been
subjected to pressure, and then has such consistence as to admit of
cutting out in blocks; or it may exist as a black mud or paste at the
bottom of bogs and sluices.

The value of peat as fuel stands in direct ratio to its content of
carbon. We have seen that this ranges from 51 to 63 _per cent. of the
organic matter_, and the increase of carbon is related to its ripeness
and density. The poorest, youngest peat, has the same proportion of
carbon as exists in wood. It does not, however, follow that its heating
power is the same. The various kinds of wood have essentially the same
proportion of carbon, but their heating power is very different. The
close textured woods--those which weigh the most per cord--make the best
fuel for most purposes. We know, that a cord of hickory will produce
twice as much heat as a cord of bass-wood. Peat, though having the same
or a greater proportion of carbon, is generally inferior to wood on
account of its occupying a greater bulk for a given weight, a necessary
result of its porosity. The best qualities of peat, or poor kinds
artificially condensed, may, on the other hand, equal or exceed wood in
heating power, bulk for bulk. One reason that peat is, in general,
inferior to wood in heating effect, lies in its greater content of
incombustible ash. Wood has but 0.5 to 1.5 _per cent._ of mineral
matters, while peat contains usually 5 to 10 _per cent._, and often
more. The oldest, ripest peats are those which contain the most carbon,
and have at the same time the greatest compactness. From these two
circumstances they make the best fuel.

It thus appears that peat which is light, loose in structure, and much
mixed with clay or sand, is a poor or very poor article for producing
heat: while a dense pure peat is very good.

A great drawback to the usefulness of most kinds of peat-fuel, lies in
their great friability. This property renders them unable to endure
transportation. The blocks of peat which are commonly used in most parts
of Germany as fuel, break and crumble in handling, so that they cannot
be carried far without great waste. Besides, when put into a stove,
there can only go on a slow smouldering combustion as would happen in
cut tobacco or saw-dust. A free-burning fuel must exist in compact lumps
or blocks, which so retain their form and solidity, as to admit of a
rapid draught of air through the burning mass.

The bulkiness of ordinary peat fuel, as compared with hard wood, and
especially with coal, likewise renders transportation costly, especially
by water, where freights are charged by bulk and not by weight, and
renders storage an item of great expense.

The chief value of that peat fuel, which is simply cut from the bog, and
dried without artificial condensation, must be for the domestic use of
the farmer or villager who owns a supply of it not far from his
dwelling, and can employ his own time in getting it out. Though worth
perhaps much less cord for cord when dry than hard wood, it may be
cheaper for home consumption than fuel brought from a distance.

Various processes have been devised for preparing peat, with a view to
bringing it into a condition of density and toughness, sufficient to
obviate its usual faults, and make it compare with wood or even with
coal in heating power.

The efforts in this direction have met with abundant success as regards
producing a good fuel. In many cases, however, the cost of preparation
has been too great to warrant the general adoption of these processes.
We shall recur to this subject on a subsequent page, and give an
account of the methods that have been proposed or employed for the
manufacture of condensed peat fuel.

2.--_Density of Peat._

The apparent[10] specific gravity of peat in the air-dry state, ranges
from 0.11 to 1.03. In other words, a full cubic foot weighs from
one-tenth as much as, to slightly more than a cubic foot of water, =
62-1/3 lbs. Peat, which has a specific gravity of but 0.25, may be and
is employed as fuel. A full cubic foot of it will weigh about 16 lbs. In
Germany, the cubic foot of "good ordinary peat" in blocks,[11] ranges
from 15 to 25 lbs. in weight, and is employed for domestic purposes. The
heavier peat, weighing 30 or more lbs. per cubic foot in blocks, is used
for manufacturing and metallurgical purposes, and for firing

Karmarsch has carefully investigated more than 100 peats belonging to
the kingdom of Hanover, with reference to their heating effect. He
classifies them as follows:--

A. _Turfy peat_, (_Rasentorf_,) consisting of slightly decomposed mosses
and other peat-producing plants, having a yellow or yellowish-brown
color, very soft, spongy and elastic, sp. gr. 0.11 to 0.26, the full
English cubic foot weighing from 7 to 16 lbs.

B. _Fibrous peat_, unripe peat, which is brown or black in color, less
elastic than turfy peat, the fibres either of moss, grass, roots,
leaves, or wood, distinguishable by the eye, but brittle, and easily
broken; sp. gr. 0.24 to 0.67, the weight of a full cubic foot being from
15 to 42 lbs.

C. _Earthy peat._--Nearly or altogether destitute of fibrous structure,
drying to earth-like masses which break with more or less difficulty,
giving lustreless surfaces of fracture; sp. gr. 0.41 to 0.90, the full
cubic foot weighing, accordingly, from 25 to 56 lbs.

D. _Pitchy peat_, (_Pechtorf_,) dense; when dry, hard; often resisting
the blows of a hammer, breaking with a smooth, sometimes lustrous
fracture, into sharp-angled pieces. Sp. gr. 0.62 to 1.03, the full cubic
foot weighing from 38 to 55 lbs.

In Kane and Sullivan's examination of 27 kinds of Irish peat, the
specific gravities ranged from 0.274 to 1.058.

3.--_Heating power of peat as compared with wood and anthracite._

Karmarsch found that in absolute heating effect

 100 lbs. of turfy, air-dry peat, on the average = 95 lbs. of pine wood.
  "          fibrous       "      "        "     = 108       "       "
  "          earthy        "      "        "     = 104       "       "
  "          pitchy        "      "        "     = 111       "       "

The comparison of heating power by bulk, instead of weight, is as

 100 cubic ft. of turfy peat, on the average[12] =  33 cubic ft. of pine
                                                       wood, in sticks.
   "       "      fibrous       "       "        =  90 cubic ft. of pine
                                                       wood, in sticks.
   "       "      earthy        "       "        = 145 cubic ft. of pine
                                                       wood, in sticks.
   "       "      pitchy        "       "        = 184 cubic ft. of pine
                                                       wood, in sticks.

According to Brix, the weight per English cord and relative heating
effect of several air-dry peats--the heating power of an equal bulk of
oak wood being taken at 100 as a standard--are as follows, _bulk for

                                                 _Weight per    _Heating
                                                   cord._       effect._
 Oak wood                                          4150 lbs.       100
 Peat from Linum, 1st quality, dense and pitchy    3400  "          70
       "     "    2d     "     fibrous             2900  "          55
       "     "    3d     "     turfy               2270  "          53
 Peat from Buechsenfeld, 1st quality, pitchy,
      very hard and heavy                          3400 lbs.        74
 Peat from Buechsenfeld, 2d quality                2730  "          64

These statements agree in showing, that, while weight for weight, the
ordinary qualities of peat do not differ much from wood in heating
power; the heating effect of _equal bulks_ of this fuel, as found in
commerce, may vary extremely, ranging from one-half to three quarters
that of oak wood.

Condensed peat may be prepared by machinery, which will weigh more than
hard wood, bulk for bulk, and whose heating power will therefore exceed
that of wood.

Gysser gives the following comparisons of a good peat with various
German woods and charcoals, equal weights being employed, and split
beech wood, air-dry, assumed as the standard.[14]

 Beech wood, split, air dry                                          1.00
 Peat, condensed by Weber's & Gysser's method,[15] air-dried,
      with 25 _per cent._ moisture.                                  1.00
 Peat, condensed by Weber's & Gysser's method, hot-dried,
      with 10 _per cent._ moisture.                                  1.48
 Peat-charcoal, from condensed peat.                                 1.73
 The same peat, simply cut and air-dried.                            0.80
 Beech-charcoal.                                                     1.90
 Summer-oak wood.                                                    1.18
 Birch wood.                                                         0.95
 White pine wood.                                                    0.72
 Alder.                                                              0.65
 Linden.                                                             0.65
 Red pine.                                                           0.61
 Poplar.                                                             0.50

Some experiments have been made in this country on the value of peat as
fuel. One was tried on the N. Y. Central Railroad, Jan. 3, 1866. A
locomotive with 25 empty freight cars attached, was propelled from
Syracuse westward--the day being cold and the wind ahead--at the rate of
16 miles the hour. The engineer reported that "the peat gave us as much
steam as wood, and burnt a beautiful fire." The peat, we infer, was cut
and prepared near Syracuse, N. Y.

In one of the pumping houses of the Nassau Water Department of the City
of Brooklyn, an experiment has been made for the purpose of comparing
peat with anthracite, for the results of which I am indebted to the
courtesy of Moses Lane, Esq., Chief Engineer of the Department.

Fire was started under a steam boiler with wood. When steam was up, the
peat was burned--its quantity being 1743 lbs., or 18 barrels--and after
it was consumed, the firing was continued with coal. The pressure of
steam was kept as nearly uniform as possible throughout the trial, and
it was found that with 1743 lbs. of peat the engine made 2735
revolutions, while with 1100 lbs. of coal it made 3866 revolutions. In
other words, 100 lbs. of coal produced 351-45/100 revolutions, and 100
lbs. of peat produced 156-91/100 revolutions. One pound of coal
therefore equalled 2-24/100 lbs. of peat in heating effect. The peat
burned well and generated steam freely.

Mr. Lane could not designate the quality of the peat, not having been
able to witness the experiment.

These trials have not, indeed, all the precision needful to fix with
accuracy the comparative heating effect of the fuels employed; for a
furnace, that is adapted for wood, is not necessarily suited to peat,
and a coal grate must have a construction unlike that which is proper
for a peat fire; nevertheless they exhibit the relative merits of wood,
peat, and anthracite, with sufficient closeness for most practical

Two considerations would prevent the use of ordinary cut peat in large
works, even could two and one-fourth tons of it be afforded at the same
price as one ton of coal. The Nassau Water Department consumes 20,000
tons of coal yearly, the handling of which is a large expense, six
firemen being employed to feed the furnaces. To generate the same amount
of steam with peat of the quality experimented with, would require the
force of firemen to be considerably increased. Again, it would be
necessary to lay in, under cover, a large stock of fuel during the
summer, for use in winter, when peat cannot be raised. Since a barrel of
this peat weighed less than 100 lbs., the short ton would occupy the
volume of 20 barrels; as is well known, a ton of anthracite can be put
into 8 barrels. A given weight of peat therefore requires 2-1/2 times as
much storage room, as the same weight of coal. As 2-1/4 tons of peat, in
the case we are considering, are equivalent to but one ton of coal in
heating effect, the winter's supply of peat fuel would occupy 5-5/8
times the bulk of the same supply in coal, admitting that the unoccupied
or air-space in a pile of peat is the same as in a heap of coal. In
fact, the calculation would really turn out still more to the
disadvantage of peat, because the air-space in a bin of peat is greater
than in one of coal, and coal can be excavated for at least two months
more of the year than peat.

It is asserted by some, that, because peat can be condensed so as to
approach anthracite in specific gravity, it must, in the same ratio,
approach the latter in heating power. Its effective heating power is,
indeed, considerably augmented by condensation, but no mechanical
treatment can increase its percentage of carbon or otherwise alter its
chemical composition; hence it must forever remain inferior to

The composition and density of the best condensed peat is compared with
that of hard wood and anthracite in the following statement:--

 _In 100    _Carbon._ _Hydrogen._ _Oxygen and  _Ash._ _Water._ _Specific
  parts._                           Nitrogen._                  Gravity._
 Wood,        39.6        4.8         34.8      0.8     20.0      0.75
   peat       47.2        4.9         22.9      5.0     20.0      1.20
 Anthracite   91.3        2.9          2.8      3.0               1.40

In combustion in ordinary fires, the _water_ of the fuel is a source of
waste, since it consumes heat in acquiring the state of vapor. This is
well seen in the comparison of the same kind of peat in different states
of dryness. Thus, in the table of Gysser, (page 97) Weber's condensed
peat, containing 10 _per cent._ of moisture, surpasses in heating effect
that containing 25 _per cent._ of moisture, by nearly one-half.

The _oxygen_ is a source of waste, for heat as developed from fuel, is
chiefly a result of the chemical union of atmospheric or free oxygen,
with the carbon and hydrogen of the combustible. The oxygen of the fuel,
being already combined with carbon and hydrogen, not only cannot itself
contribute to the generation of heat, but neutralizes the heating effect
of those portions of the carbon and hydrogen of the fuel with which it
remains in combination. The quantity of heating effect thus destroyed,
cannot, however, be calculated with certainty, because physical changes,
viz: the conversion of solids into gases, not to speak of secondary
chemical transformations, whose influence cannot be estimated, enter
into the computation.

_Nitrogen_ and ash are practically indifferent in the burning process,
and simply impair the heating value of fuel in as far as they occupy
space in it and make a portion of its weight, to the exclusion of
combustible matter.

Again, as regards density, peat is, in general, considerably inferior to
anthracite. The best uncondensed peat has a specific gravity of 0.90.
Condensed peat usually does not exceed 1.1. Sometimes it is made of sp.
gr. 1.3. Assertions to the effect of its acquiring a density of 1.8, can
hardly be credited of pure peat, though a considerable admixture of sand
or clay might give such a result.

The comparative heating power of fuels is ascertained by burning them in
an apparatus, so constructed, that the heat generated shall expend
itself in evaporating or raising the temperature of a known quantity of

_The amount of heat that will raise the temperature of one gramme of
water, one degree of the centigrade thermometer, is agreed upon as the
unit of heat._[16]

In the complete combustion of carbon in the form of charcoal or
gas-coal, there are developed 8060 units of heat. In the combustion of
one gramme of hydrogen gas, 34,210 units of heat are generated. The
heating effect of hydrogen is therefore 4.2 times greater than that of
carbon. It was long supposed that the heating effect of compound
combustibles could be calculated from their elementary composition. This
view is proved to be erroneous, and direct experiment is the only
satisfactory means of getting at the truth in this respect.

The data of Karmarsch, Brix, and Gysser, already given, were obtained by
the experimental method. They were, however, made mostly on a small
scale, and, in some cases, without due regard to the peculiar
requirements of the different kinds of fuel, as regards fire space,
draught, etc. They can only be regarded as approximations to the truth,
and have simply a comparative value, which is, however, sufficient for
ordinary purposes.

The general results of the investigations hitherto made on all the
common kinds of fuel, are given in the subjoined statement. The
comparison is made in units of heat, and refers to equal weights of the
materials experimented with.


 Air-dry Wood                               2800
   "     Peat                           2500    3000
 Perfectly dry Wood                         3600
    "       "  Peat                     3000    4000
 Air-dry Lignite or Brown Coal          3300    4200
 Perfectly dry Lignite or Brown Coal    4000    5000
 Bituminous Coal                        3800    7000
 Anthracite                                 7500
 Wood Charcoal                          6300    7500
 Coke                                   6500    7600

4.--_Modes of Burning Peat._

In the employment of peat fuel, regard must be had to its shape and
bulk. Commonly, peat is cut or moulded into blocks or sods like bricks,
which have a length of 8 to 18 inches; a breadth of 4 to 6 inches, and a
thickness of 1-1/2 to 3 inches. Machine peat is sometimes formed into
circular disks of 2 to 3 inches diameter, and 1 to 2 inches thickness
and thereabouts. It is made also in the shape of balls of 2 to 3 inches
diameter. Another form is that of thick-walled pipes, 2 to 3 inches in
diameter, a foot or more long, and with a bore of one-half inch.

Flat blocks are apt to lie closely together in the fire, and obstruct
the draft. A fire-place, constructed properly for burning them, should
be shallow, not admitting of more than two or three layers being
superposed. According to the bulkiness of the peat, the fire-place
should be roomy, as regards length and breadth.

Fibrous and easily crumbling peat is usually burned upon a hearth, _i.
e._ without a grate, either in stoves or open fire-places. Dense peat
burns best upon a grate, the bars of which should be thin and near
together, so that the air have access to every part of the fuel. The
denser and tougher the peat, and the more its shape corresponds with
that usual to coal, the better is it adapted for use in our ordinary
coal stoves and furnaces.

5.--_Burning of broken peat._

[Illustration: Fig. 1--STAIR GRATE.]

Broken peat--the fragments and waste of the cut or moulded blocks, and
peat as obtained by plowing and harrowing the surface of drained
peat-beds--may be used to advantage in the _stair grate_, fig. 1, which
was introduced some years ago in Austria, and is adapted exclusively for
burning finely divided fuel. It consists of a series of thin iron bars 3
to 4 inches wide, _a_, _a_, _a_, ... which are arranged above each other
like steps, as shown in the figure. They are usually half as long as the
grate is wide, and are supported at each end by two side pieces or
walls, _l._ Below, the grate is closed by a heavy iron plate. The fuel
is placed in the hopper _A_, which is kept filled, and from which it
falls down the incline as rapidly as it is consumed. The air enters from
the space _G_, and is regulated by doors, not shown in the cut, which
open into it. The masonry is supported at _u_, by a hollow iron beam.
Below, a lateral opening serves for clearing out the ashes. The effect
of the fire depends upon the width of the throat of the hopper at _u_,
which regulates the supply of fuel to the grate, and upon the
inclination of the latter. The throat is usually from 6 to 8 inches
wide, according to the nature of the fuel. The inclination of the grate
is 40 to 45° and, in general, should be that which is assumed by the
sides of a pile of the fuel to be burned, when it is thrown up into a
heap. This grate ensures complete combustion of fuel that would fall
through ordinary grates, and that would merely smoulder upon a hearth.
The fire admits of easy regulation, the ashes may be removed and the
fuel may be supplied without _checking the fire_. Not only broken peat,
but coal dust, saw dust, wood turnings and the like may be burned on
this grate. The figure represents it as adapted to a steam boiler.

6.--_Hygroscopic water of peat fuel._

The quantity of water retained by air-dried peat appears to be the same
as exists in air-dried wood, viz., about 20 _per cent._ The proportion
will vary however according to the time of seasoning. In thoroughly
seasoned wood or peat, it may be but 15 _per cent._; while in the poorly
dried material it may amount to 25 or more _per cent._ When _hot-dried_,
the proportion of water may be reduced to 10 _per cent._, or less.

When peat is still moist, it gathers water rapidly from damp air, and in
this condition has been known to burst the sheds in which it was stored,
but after becoming dry to the eye and feel, it is but little affected by
dampness, no more so, it appears, than seasoned wood.


In estimating the value and cost of peat fuel, it must be remembered
that peat shrinks greatly in drying, so that three to five cords of
fresh peat yield but one cord of dry peat. When the fiber of the peat is
broken by the hand, or by machinery, the shrinkage is often much
greater, and may sometimes amount to seven-eighths of the original
volume.--_Dingler's Journal, Oct. 1864_, _S._ 68.

The difference in weight between fresh and dry peat is even greater.
Fibrous peat, fresh from the bog, may contain ninety _per cent._ of
water, of which seventy _per cent._ must evaporate before it can be
called dry. The proportion of water in earthy or pitchy peat is indeed
less; but the quantity is always large, so that from five to nine
hundred weight of fresh peat must be lifted in order to make one hundred
weight of dry fuel.

8.--_Time of excavation, and drying._

Peat which is intended to be used after simply drying, must be excavated
so early in the season that it shall become dry before frosty weather
arrives: because, if frozen when wet, its coherence is destroyed, and on
thawing it falls to a powder useless for fuel.

Peat must be dried with certain precautions. If a block of fresh peat be
exposed to hot sunshine, it dries and shrinks on the surface much more
rapidly than within: as a consequence it cracks, loses its coherence,
and the block is easily broken, or of itself falls to pieces. In Europe,
it is indeed customary to dry peat without shelter, the loss by too
rapid drying not being greater than the expense of building and
maintaining drying sheds. There however the sun is not as intense, nor
the air nearly so dry, as it is here. Even there, the occurrence of an
unusually hot summer, causes great loss. In our climate, some shelter
would be commonly essential unless the peat be dug early in the spring,
so as to lose the larger share of its water before the hot weather; or,
as would be best of all, in the autumn late enough to escape the heat,
but early enough to ensure such dryness as would prevent damage by
frost. The peculiarities of climate must decide the time of excavating
and the question of shelter.

The point in drying peat is to make it lose its water gradually and
regularly, so that the inside of each block shall dry nearly as fast as
the outside.

Some of the methods of hot-drying peat, will be subsequently noticed.

Summer or fall digging would be always advantageous on account of the
swamps being then most free from water. In Bavaria, peat is dug mostly
in July and the first half of August.


When it is intended to raise peat fuel _in the form of blocks_, the bog
should be drained no more rapidly than it is excavated. Peat, which is
to be worth cutting in the spring, must be covered with water during the
winter, else it is pulverized by the frost. So, too, it must be
protected against drying away and losing its coherency in summer, by
being kept sufficiently impregnated with water.

In case an extensive bog is to be drained to facilitate the cutting out
of the peat for use as fuel, the canals that carry off the water from
the parts which are excavating, should be so constructed, that on the
approach of cold weather, the remaining peat may be flooded again to the
usual height.

In most of the smaller swamps, systematic draining is unnecessary, the
water drying away in summer enough to admit of easy working.

In some methods of preparing or condensing peat by machinery, it is best
or even needful to drain and air-dry the peat, preliminary to working.
By draining, the peat settles, especially on the borders of the ditches,
several inches, or even feet, according to its nature and depth. It thus
becomes capable of bearing teams and machinery, and its density is very
considerably augmented.

10.--_The Cutting of Peat._--a. _Preparations._

In preparing to raise peat fuel from the bog, the surface material,
which from the action of frost and sun has been pulverized to "muck," or
which otherwise is full of roots and undecomposed matters, must be
removed usually to the depth of 12 to 18 inches. It is only those
portions of the peat which have never frozen nor become dry, and are
free from coarse fibers of recent vegetation, that can be cut for fuel.

Peat fuel must be brought into the form of blocks or masses of such size
and shape as to adapt them to use in our common stoves and furnaces.
Commonly, the peat is of such consistence in its native bed, that it may
be cut out with a spade or appropriate tool into blocks having more or
less coherence. Sometimes it is needful to take away the surplus water
from the bog, and allow the peat to settle and drain a while before it
can be cut to advantage.

When a bog is to be opened, a deep ditch is run from an outlet or lowest
point a short distance into the peat bed, and the working goes on from
the banks of this ditch. It is important that system be followed in
raising the peat, or there will be great waste of fuel and of labor.

If, as often happens, the peat is so soft in the wet season as to break
on the vertical walls of a ditch and fill it, at the same time
dislocating the mass and spoiling it for cutting, it is best to carry
down the ditch in terraces, making it wide above and narrow at the

b. _Cutting by hand._

The simplest mode of procedure, consists in laying off a "field" or plot
of, say 20 feet square, and making vertical cuts with a sharp spade
three or four inches deep from end to end in parallel lines, as far
apart as it is proposed to make the breadth of the peats or sods,
usually four to five inches. Then, the field is cut in a similar manner
in lines at right angles to the first, and at a distance that shall be
the length of the peats, say 18 to 20 inches. Finally, the workman lifts
the peats by horizontal thrusts of his spade, made at a depth of three
inches. The sods as lifted, are placed on a light barrow or upon a board
or rack, and are carried off to a drying ground, near at hand, where
they are laid down flatwise to drain and dry. In Ireland, it is the
custom, after the peats have lain thus for a fortnight or so, to "foot"
them, i. e. to place them on end close together; after further drying
the "footing" is succeeded by "clamping," which is building the sods up
into stacks of about twelve to fifteen feet long, four feet wide at
bottom, narrowing to one foot at top, with a height of four to five
feet. The outer turfs are inclined so as to shed the rain. The peat
often remains in these clamps on the bog until wanted for use, though in
rainy seasons the loss by crumbling is considerable.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--GERMAN PEAT-KNIFE.]

Other modes of lifting peat, require tools of particular construction....
In Germany it is common to excavate by _vertical_ thrusts of the tool,
the cutting part of which is represented above, fig. 2. This tool is
pressed down into the peat to a depth corresponding to the thickness of
the required block: its three edges cut as many sides of the block, and
the bottom is then broken or torn out by a prying motion.

In other cases, this or a similar tool is forced down by help of the
foot as deeply into the peat as possible by a workman standing above,
while a second man in the ditch cuts out the blocks of proper thickness
by means of a sharp spade thrust horizontally. When the peats are taken
out to the depth of the first vertical cutting, the knife is used again
from above, and the process is thus continued as before, until the
bottom of the peat or the desired depth is reached.

In Ireland, is employed the "slane," a common form of which is shown in
fig. 3, it being a long, narrow and sharp spade, 20 inches by six, with
a wing at right angles to the blade.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--IRISH SLANE.]

The peats are cut by one thrust of this instrument which is worked by
the arms alone. After a vertical cut is made by a spade, in a line at
right angles to a bank of peat, the slane cuts the bottom and other side
of the block; while at the end the latter is simply lifted or broken

Peat is most easily cut in a vertical direction, but when, as often
happens, it is made up of layers, the sods are likely to break apart
where these join. Horizontal cutting is therefore best for stratified

_System employed in East Friesland._--In raising peat, great waste both
of labor and of fuel may easily occur as the result of random and
unsystematic methods of working. For this reason, the mode of cutting
peat, followed in the extensive moors of East Friesland, is worthy of
particular description. There, the business is pursued systematically on
a plan, which, it is claimed, long experience[17] has developed to such
perfection that the utmost economy of time and labor is attained. The
cost of producing marketable peat in East Friesland in 1860, was one
silver groschen=about 2-1/2 cents, per hundred weight; while at that
time, in Bavaria, the hundred weight cost three times as much when fit
for market; and this, notwithstanding living and labor are much cheaper
in the latter country.

The method to be described, presupposes that the workmen are not
hindered by water, which, in most cases, can be easily removed from the
high-moors of the region. The peat is worked in long stretches of 10
feet in width, and 100 to 1000 paces in length: each stretch or plot is
excavated at once to a considerable depth and to its full width. Each
successive year the excavation is widened by 10 feet, its length
remaining the same. Sometimes, unusual demand leads to more rapid
working; but the width of 10 feet is adhered to for each cutting, and,
on account of the labor of carrying the peats, it is preferred to extend
the length rather than the width.

Assuming that the peat bed has been opened by a previous cutting, to the
depth of 5-1/2 feet, and the surface muck and light peat, 1-1/2 feet
thick, have been thrown into the excavation of the year before--a new
plot is worked by five men as follows.

One man, the "Bunker," removes from the surface, about two inches of
peat, disintegrated by the winter's frost, throwing it into last year's

Following him, come two "Diggers," of whom one stands on the surface of
the peat, and with a heavy, long handled tool, cuts out the sides and
end of the blocks, which are about seventeen by five inches; while the
other stands in the ditch, and by horizontal thrusts of a light, sharp
spade, removes the sods, each of five and a half inches thickness, and
places them on a small board near by. Each block of peat has the
dimensions of one fourth of a cubic foot, and weighs about 13 pounds.
Two good workmen will raise 25 such peats, or 6-1/4 cubic feet, per

A fourth man, the "Loader," puts the sods upon a wheel-barrow, always
two rows of six each, one upon the other, and--

A fifth, the "Wheeler," removes the load to the drying ground, and with
some help from the Bunker, disposes them flatwise in rows of 16 sods
wide, which run at right angles to the ditch, and, beginning at a little
more than 10 feet from the latter, extend 50 feet.

The space of 10 feet between the plot that is excavating, and the drying
ground, is, at the same time, cleared of the useless surface muck by the
Bunker, in preparation for the next year's work.

With moderate activity, the five men will lift and lay out 12,000 sods
(3000 cubic feet,) daily, and it is not uncommon that five first-rate
hands get out 16,800 peats (4200 cubic feet,) in this time.

A gang of five men, working as described, suffices for cutting out a bed
of four feet of solid peat. When the excavation is to be made deeper, a
sixth man, the "Hanker," is needful for economical work; and with his
help the cutting may be extended down to nine and a half feet; i. e.
through eight feet of solid peat. The cutting is carried down at first,
four feet as before, but the peats are carried 50 feet further, in order
to leave room for those to be subsequently lifted. The "Hanker" aids
here, with a second wheel-barrow. In taking out the lower peat, the
"Hanker" stands on the bottom of the first excavation, receives the
blocks from the Diggers, on a broad wooden shovel, and hands them up to
the Loader; while the Wheeler, having only the usual distance to carry
them, lays them out in the drying rows without difficulty.

After a little drying in the rows, the peats are gradually built up into
narrow piles, like a brick wall of one and a half bricks thickness.
These piles are usually raised by women. They are made in the spaces
between the rows, and are laid up one course at a time, so that each
block may dry considerably, before it is covered by another. A woman can
lay up 12,000 peats daily--the number lifted by 5 men--and as it
requires about a month of good weather to give each course time (two
days) to dry, she is able to pile for 30 gangs of workmen. If the
weather be very favorable, the peats may be stacked or put into sheds,
in a few days after the piling is finished. Stacking is usually
practised. The stacks are carefully laid up in cylindrical form, and
contain 200 to 500 cubic feet. When the stacks are properly built, the
peat suffers but little from the weather.

According to Schroeder, from whose account (Dingler's Polytechnisches
Journal, Bd. 156, S. 128) the above statements are derived, the peats
excavated under his direction, in drying thoroughly, shrank to about
one-fourth of their original bulk (became 12 inches x 3 inches x 3
inches,) and to one-seventh or one-eighth of their original weight.

c. _Machines for Cutting Peat._

In North Prussia, the Peat Cutting Machine of Brosowsky, see fig. 4, is
extensively employed. It consists of a cutter, made like the four sides
of a box, but with oblique edges, _a_, which by its own weight, and by
means of a crank and rack-work, operated by men, is forced down into the
peat to a depth that may reach 20 feet. It can cut only at the edge of a
ditch or excavation, and when it has penetrated sufficiently, a spade
like blade, _d_, is driven under the cutter by means of levers _c_, and
thus a mass is loosened, having a vertical length of 10 feet or more,
and whose other dimensions are about 24 × 28 inches. This is lifted by
reversing the crank motion, and is then cut up by the spade into blocks
of 14 inches × 6 inches × 5 inches. Each parallelopipedon of peat, cut
to a depth of 10 feet, makes 144 sods, and this number can be cut in
less than 10 minutes. Four hands will cut and lay out to dry, 12,000 to
14,000 peats daily, or 3100 cubic feet. One great advantage of this
machine consists in the circumstance that it can be used to raise peat
from below the surface of water, rendering drainage in many cases
unnecessary. Independently of this, it appears to be highly labor
saving, since 1300 machines were put to use in Mecklenburg and Pomerania
in about 5 years from its introduction. The Mecklenburg moors are now
traversed by canals, cut by this machine, which are used for the
transportation of the peat to market.[18]

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--BROSOWSKY'S PEAT CUTTER.]

Lepreux in Paris, has invented a similar but more complicated machine,
which is said to be very effective in its operation. According to Hervé
Mangon, this machine, when worked by two men, raises and cuts 40,000
peats daily, of which seven make one cubic foot, equal to 5600
cubic feet. The saving in expense by using this machine[19] is said to
be 70 _per cent._, when the peat to be raised is under water.

11.--_The Dredging of Peat._

When peat exists, not as a coherent more or less fibrous mass, but as a
paste or mud, saturated with water, it cannot be raised and formed by
the methods above described.

In such cases the peat is dredged from the bottom of the bog by means of
an iron scoop, like a pail with sharp upper edges, which is fastened to
a long handle. The bottom is made of coarse sacking, so that the water
may run off. Sometimes, a stout ring of iron with a bag attached, is
employed in the same way. The fine peat is emptied from the dredge upon
the ground, where it remains, until the water has been absorbed or has
evaporated, so far as to leave the mass somewhat firm and plastic. In
the mean time, a drying bed is prepared by smoothing, and, if needful,
stamping a sufficient space of ground, and enclosing it in boards 14
inches wide, set on edge. Into this bed the partially dried peat is
thrown, and, as it cracks on the surface by drying, it is compressed by
blows with a heavy mallet or flail, or by treading it with flat boards,
attached to the feet, somewhat like snow shoes. By this treatment the
mass is reduced to a continuous sheet of less than one-half its first
thickness, and becomes so firm, that a man's step gives little
impression in it. The boards are now removed, and it is cut into blocks
by means of a very thin, sharp spade. Every other block being lifted out
and placed crosswise upon those remaining, air is admitted to the whole
and the drying goes on rapidly. This kind of peat is usually of
excellent quality. In North Germany it is called "Baggertorf," i. e.

Peat is sometimes dredged by machinery, as will be noticed hereafter.

12.--_The Moulding of Peat._

When black, earthy or pitchy peat cannot be cut, and is not so saturated
with water as to make a mud; it is, after raking or picking out roots,
etc., often worked into a paste by the hands or feet, with addition of
water, until it can be formed into blocks which, by slow drying, acquire
great firmness. In Ireland this product is termed "hand-peat." In
Germany it is called "Formtorf," _i. e._ moulded peat, or "Backtorf,"
_i. e._ baked peat.

The shaping is sometimes accomplished by plastering the soft mass into
wooden moulds, as in making bricks.

13.--_Preparation of Peat Fuel by Machinery, etc._

Within the last 15 years, numerous inventions have been made with a view
to improving the quality of peat fuel, as well as to expedite its
production. These inventions are directed to the following points, viz.:
1. _Condensation_ of the peat, so as bring more fuel into a given space,
thus making it capable of giving out an intenser heat; at the same time
increasing its hardness and toughness, and rendering it easier and more
economical of transportation. 2. _Drying_ by artificial heat or reducing
the amount of water from 20 or 25 _per cent._ to half that quantity or
less. This exalts the heating power in no inconsiderable degree. 3.
_Charring._ Peat-charcoal is as much better than peat, for use where
intense heat is required, as wood charcoal is better than wood. 4.
_Purifying from useless matters._ Separation of earthy admixtures which
are incombustible and hinder draught.

A.--_Condensation by Pressure._

_Pressing Wet Peat._--The condensation of peat was first attempted by
subjecting the fresh, wet material, to severe pressure. As long ago as
the year 1821, Pernitzsch, in Saxony, prepared peat by this method, and
shortly afterwards Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, in Scotland, and others,
adopted the same principle. Simple pressure will, indeed, bring fresh
peat at once into much smaller bulk; but, if the peat be fibrous and
light, and for this reason require condensation, it is also elastic,
and, when the pressure is relieved, it acquires again much of its
original volume.

Furthermore, although pressure will squeeze out much water from a
saturated well-ripened peat, the complete drying of the pressed blocks
usually requires as much or more time than that of the unpressed
material, on account of the closeness of texture of the surface produced
by the pressure.

The advantages of subjecting fresh peat to pressure in the ordinary
presses, it is found, are more than offset by the expense of the
operation, and it is therefore unnecessary to give the subject further

Fresh peat appears however to have been advantageously pressed by other
mechanical means. Two methods require notice.

_Mannhardt's Method_, invented about the year 1858, has been practically
applied on the large scale at _Schleissheim_, Bavaria. Mannhardt's
machine consists of two colossal iron rolls, each of 15 feet diameter,
and 6-1/2 feet length, geared into each other so as to revolve
horizontally in opposite directions and with equal velocity. These rolls
are hollow, their circumference consists of stout iron plate perforated
with numerous small holes, and is supported by iron bars which connect
the ends of the roll, having intervals between them of about one inch.
Each roll is covered by an endless band of hair cloth, stretched over
and kept in place by rollers. The rolls are operated by a steam engine
of 12 horse power. The fresh peat is thrown into a hopper, and passing
between the rolls, loses a considerable share of its water, issuing as a
broad continuous sheet, which is divided into blocks by an arrangement
presently to be described. The cloth, covering the rolls, must have
great strength, sufficient porosity to allow water to pass it freely,
and such closeness of texture as to retain the fine particles of peat.
Many trials have led to the use of a fabric, specially made for the
purpose, of goat's hair. The cloth for each pair of rolls, costs $160.

The peat at Schleissheim is about 5 feet in depth, and consists of a
dark-brown mud or paste, free from stones and sticks, and penetrated
only by fine fibers. The peat is thrown up on the edge of a ditch, and
after draining, is moved on a tram-way to the machine. It is there
thrown upon a chain of buckets, which deliver it at the hopper above the
rolls. The rolls revolve once in 7-1/3 minutes and at each revolution
turn out a sheet of peat, which cuts into 528 blocks. Each block has,
when moist, a length of about 12 inches, by 5 inches of width and 1-1/4
inches of thickness, and weighs on the average 1-1/2 lbs. The water that
is pressed out of the peat, falls within the rolls and is conducted
away; it is but slightly turbid from suspended particles. The band of
pressed peat is divided in one direction as it is formed, by narrow
slats which are secured horizontally to the press-cloth, at about 5
inches distance from each other. The further division of the peat is
accomplished by a series of six circular saws, under which the peat is
carried as it is released from the rolls, by a system of endless cords
strung over rollers. These cords run parallel until the peat passes the
saws; thenceforth they radiate, so that the peat-blocks are separated
somewhat from each other. They are carried on until they reach a roll,
over which they are delivered upon drying lattices. The latter move
regularly under the roll; the peats arrange themselves upon them
edgewise, one leaning against the other, so as to admit of free
circulation of air. The lattices are loaded upon cars, and moved on a
tram-way to the drying ground, where they are set up in frames.

The peat-cake separates well from the press-cloths; but the pores of the
latter become somewhat choked by fine particles that penetrate them.
They are therefore washed at each revolution by passing before a pipe
from which issue, against them, a number of jets of water under high
pressure. The blocks, after leaving the machine, are soft, and require 5
or 6 days to become air-dry. When dry they are dense and of good
quality, but not better than the same raw material yields by simple
moulding. The capacity of the rolls, which easily turn out 100,000 peats
in 24 hours, greatly exceeds at present that of the drying arrangements,
and for this reason the works are not, as yet, remunerative. The rolls
are, in reality, a simple forming machine. The pressure they exert on
the peat, is but inconsiderable, owing to its soft pasty character; and
since the pair of rolls costs $8000 and can only be worked 3 to 4
months, this method must be regarded rather as an ingenious and
instructive essay in the art of making peat-fuel, than as a practical
success. The persevering efforts of the inventor may yet overcome all
difficulties and prove the complete efficacy of the method. It is
especially important, that blocks of greater thickness should be
produced, since those now made, pack together too closely in the fire.

_Neustadt Method._--At Neustadt, in Hanover, a loose-textured fibrous
peat was prepared for metallurgical use in 1860, by passing through iron
rolls of ordinary construction. The peat was thereby reduced two-thirds
in bulk, burned more regularly, gave a coherent coal, and withstood
carriage better. The peat was, however, first cut into sods of regular
size, and these were fed into the rollers by boys.

b. _Pressing Air-dried Peat._

Some kinds of peat, when in the air-dry and pulverized state, yield by
great pressure very firm, excellent, and economical fuel.

_Lithuanian Process._--In Lithuania, according to Leo,[20] the following
method is extensively adopted. The bog is drained, the surface moss or
grass-turf and roots are removed, and then the peat is broken up by a
simple spade-plow, in furrows 2 inches wide and 8 or 10 inches deep. The
broken peat is repeatedly traversed with wooden harrows, and is thus
pulverized and dried. When suitably dry, it is carried to a magazine,
where it is rammed into moulds by a simple stamp of two hundred pounds
weight. The broken peat is reduced to two-fifths its first bulk, and the
blocks thus formed are so hard, as to admit of cutting with a saw or ax
without fracture. They require no further drying, are of a deep-brown
color, with lustrous surfaces, and their preparation may go on in winter
with the stock of broken peat, which is accumulated in the favorable
weather of summer. In this manufacture there is no waste of material.

The peat is dry enough for pressing when, after forming in the hands to
a ball, it will not firmly retain this shape, but on being let fall to
the ground, breaks to powder. The entire cost of preparing 1000 peats
for use, or market, was 2 Thalers, or $1.40. Thirty peats, or "stones"
as they are called from their hardness, have the bulk of two cubic feet,
and weigh 160 lbs. The cost of preparing a hundred weight, was
therefore, (in 1859,) four Silver-groschen, or about 10 cents.

The stamp is of simple construction, somewhat like a pile driver, the
mould and face of the ram being made of cast iron. The above process is
not applicable to _fibrous peat_.

c. _Pressing Hot-dried Peat._

The two methods to be next described, are similar to the last mentioned,
save that the peat is _hot-pressed_.

_Gwynne's Method._--In 1853, Gwynne of London, patented machinery and a
method for condensing peat for fuel. His process consisted, first, in
rapidly drying and pulverizing the fresh peat by a centrifugal machine,
or by passing between rollers, and subsequent exposure to heat in
revolving cylinders; and, second, in compressing the dry peat-powder in
a powerful press at a high temperature, about 180° F. By this heat it is
claimed, that the peat is not only thoroughly dried, but is likewise
partially decomposed; _bituminous matters being developed, which cement
the particles to a hard dense mass_. Gwynne's machinery was expensive
and complicated, and although an excellent fuel was produced, the
process appears not to have been carried put on the large scale with
pecuniary success.

A specimen of so-called "Peat coal" in the author's possession, made in
Massachusetts some years ago, under Gwynne's patent, appears to consist
of pulverized peat, prepared as above described; but contains an
admixture of rosin. It must have been an excellent fuel, but could not
at that time compete with coal in this country.

_Exter's Method._[21]

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--EXTER'S DRYING OVEN.]

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--EXTER'S DRYING OVEN.]

In 1856, Exter, of Bavaria, carried into operation on an extensive
scale, a plan of preparing peat-fuel in some respects not unlike the
last mentioned method. Exter's works, belonging to the Bavarian
Government, are on the Haspelmoor, situated between Augsburg and Munich.
According to Ruehlmann, who examined them at the command of the
Hanoverian Government in 1857, the method is as follows:--1. The bog is
laid dry by drains and the surface is cleared of bushes, roots, and
grass-turf, down to good peat. 2. The peat is broken up superficially to
the depth of about one inch, by a gang of three plows, propelled by a
portable steam engine. 3. The peat is further pulverized by a harrow,
drawn by a yoke of oxen. 4. In two or three days after harrowing, the
peat is turned by an implement like our cultivator, this process being
repeated at suitable intervals. 5. The fine and air-dry peat is gathered
together by scrapers, and loaded into wagons; then drawn by rope
connected with the engine, to the press or magazine. 6. If needful, the
peat, thus collected, is further pulverized by passing it through
toothed rollers. 7. The fine peat is now introduced into a complicated
drying oven, see figures 5 and 6. It falls through the opening _T_, and
is moved by means of the spirals along the horizontal floors _O_, _O_,
falling from one to another until it emerges at _Q_. The floors, _O_,
_O_, are made by wide and thin iron chambers, through which passes waste
steam from an engine. The oven is heated further by hot air, which
circulates through the canals _K_, _K_. The peat occupies about one hour
in its passage through the oven and falls from _Q_, into the press,
having a temperature of from 120° to 140°Fahrenheit. The press employed
at Staltach is essentially the same as that now used at the Kolbermoor,
and figured on p. 125. It is a powerful eccentric of simple
construction, and turns out continuously 40 finished peats per minute.
These occupy about one-fourth the space of the peat before pressing, the
cubic foot weighing about 72 lbs. The peats are 7 inches long, 3 inches
wide, and one half to three quarters of an inch thick, each weighing
three quarters of a pound. Three presses furnish annually 180,000 cwt.
of condensed peat, which is used exclusively for firing locomotives. Its
specific gravity is 1.14, and its quality as fuel is excellent.
Ruehlmann estimated its cost, at Haspelmoor in 1857, at 8-1/2 Kreuzers,
or a little more than 6 cents per cwt., and calculated that by adopting
certain obvious improvements, and substituting steam power for the labor
of men and cattle, the cost might be reduced to 6-1/2 Kreuzers, or a
little more than 4 cents per cwt.

Exter's method has been adopted with some modifications at Kolbermoor,
near Munich, in Bavaria, at Miskolz, in Hungary, and also at the
Neustadt Smelting Works, in Hanover. At the latter place, however, it
appears to have been abandoned for the reasons that it could be applied
only to the better kinds of peat; and the expense was there so great,
that the finished article could not compete with other fuel in the
Hanoverian markets.

Details of the mechanical arrangements at present employed on the
Kolbermoor, are as follows: After the bog is drained, and the surface
cleared of dwarf pines, etc., and suitably leveled, the peat is plowed
by steam. This is accomplished in a way which the annexed cut serves to
illustrate. The plot to be plowed, is traversed through the middle by
the railway _x_, _y_. A locomotive _a_, sets in motion an endless
wire-rope, which moves upon large horizontal pulleys _o_, _o_, stationed
at either border of the land. Four gang plows _b_, _b_, are attached to
the rope, and as the latter is set in motion, they break up the strip of
peat they pass over, completely. The locomotive and the pulleys are then
moved back, and the process is repeated until the whole field has been
plowed. The plows are square frames, carrying six to eight shares and as
many coulters.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

The press employed at Kolbermoor, is shown in figs. 8 and 9. The hot
peat falls into the hopper, _b_, _c_. The plunger _d_, worked in the
cavity _e_, by an eccentric, allows the latter to fill with peat as it
is withdrawn, and by its advance compresses it into a block. The blocks
_m_, once formed, by their friction in the channel _e_, oppose enough
resistance to the peat to effect its compression. In order to regulate
this resistance according to the varying quality of the peat, the piece
of metal _g_, which hangs on a pivot at _o_, is depressed or raised, by
the screw _i_, so as to contract or enlarge the channel. At each stroke
of the plunger a block is formed, and when the channel _e_ is once
filled, the peats fall continuously from its extremity. Their dimensions
are 7 inches long, 3-1/2 wide, and 1-1/2 thick.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--EXTER'S PEAT PRESS.]

Several presses are worked by the same engine at the Kolbermoor, each of
which turns out daily 200 to 300 cwt. of peats, which, in 1863, were
sold at 24 Kreuzers (16 cents), per cwt.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.--EXTER'S PEAT PRESS.]

C. Hodgson has patented in Great Britain a compressing-ram similar to
Exter's, and works were put up at Derrylea, in Ireland, some years ago,
in which Exter's process of manufacturing peat fuel appears to have been

_Elsberg's Process._

Dr. Louis Elsberg, of New York City, has invented a modification of
Exter's method, which appears to be of great importance. His
experimental machine, which is in operation near Belleville, N. J.,
consists of a cylindrical pug-mill, in which the peat, air-dried as in
Exter's method, is further broken, and at the same time is subjected to
a current of steam admitted through a pipe and jacket surrounding the
cylinder. The steamed peat is then condensed by a pair of presses
similar to that just described, which are fed directly from the mill. In
this way the complicated drying oven of Exter is dispensed with. Elsberg
& Co. are still engaged in perfecting their arrangements. Some samples
of their making are of very excellent quality, having a density of 1.2
to 1.3.

The pressing of air-dry peat only succeeds when it is made warm, and is,
at the same time, moist. In Exter's original process the peat is
considerably dried in the ovens, but on leaving them, is so moist as to
bedew the hand that is immersed in it. It is, in fact, steamed by the
vaporization of its own water. In Elsberg's process, the air-dry peat is
not further desiccated, but is made moist and warm by the admission of
hot steam. The latter method is the more ready and doubtless the more
economical of the two. Whether the former gives a dryer product or not,
the author cannot decide. Elsberg's peat occurs in cylindrical cakes 2
inches broad, and one inch in thickness. The cakes are somewhat cracked
upon the edges, as if by contraction, in drying. When wet, the surface
of the cakes swells up, and exfoliates as far as the water has
penetrated. In the fire, a similar breaking away of the surface takes
place, and when coked, the coal is but moderately coherent.

The reasons why steamed peat admits of solidification by pressure, are
simply that the air, ordinarily adhering to the fibres and particles, is
removed, and the fibres themselves become softened and more plastic, so
that pressure brings them into intimate contact. The idea that the heat
develops bituminous matters, or fuses the resins which exist in peat,
and that these cement the particles, does not harmonize with the fact
that the peat, thus condensed, flakes to pieces by a short immersion in

The great advantage of Exter's and Elsberg's method consists in avoiding
what most of the others require, viz.: the expensive transportation and
handling of fresh peat, which contains 80 to 90 _per cent._ of water,
and the rapid removal of this excess of water before the manufacture. In
the other methods the surplus water must be slowly removed during or
after condensation.

Again, enough peat may be air-dried and stored during summer weather, to
supply a machine with work during the whole year.

Its disadvantages are, that it requires a large outlay of capital and
great expenditure of mechanical force. Its product is, moreover, not
adapted for coking.

B.--_Condensation without Pressure._

The methods of condensing peat, that remain to be described, are based
upon radically different principles from those already noticed. In
these, little or no pressure is employed in the operations; but
advantage is taken of the important fact that when wet or moist peat is
ground, cut or in any way reduced to a pulpy or pasty consistence, with
destruction of the elastic fibres, it will, on drying, shrink together
to a coherent mass, that may acquire a density and toughness much
greater than it is possible to obtain by any amount of mere pressure.

The various processes that remain to notice are essentially reducible to
two types, of which the French method, invented by Challeton, and the
German, invented it appears by Weber, are the original representatives.
The former method is only applicable to earthy, well-decomposed peat,
containing little fibre. The latter was originally applied to fibrous
moss-peat, but has since been adapted to all kinds. Other inventors,
English, German, and American, have modified these methods in their
details, or in the construction of the requisite machinery, rendering
them more perfect in their execution and perhaps more profitable in
their results; but, as regards the essential principles of production,
or the quality of product, no advance appears to have been made beyond
the original inventors.

a. _Condensation of Earthy Peat._

_Challeton's Method_ consists essentially in destroying the fibres, and
reducing the peat by cutting and grinding with water to a pulp; then
slowly removing the liquid, until the peat dries away to a hard coherent
mass. It provides also for the purification of the peat from earthy
matters. It is, in many respects, an imitation of the old Dutch and
Irish mode of making "hand peat" (_Baggertorf_), and is very like the
paper manufacture in its operations. Challeton's Works, situated near
Paris, at Mennecy, near Montanges, were visited in 1856 by a Commission
of the Agricultural Society of Holstein, consisting of Drs. Meyn and
Luetkens, and also by Dr. Ruehlmann, in the interest of the Hanoverian
Government. From their account[22] the following statements are derived.

The peat at Mennecy comes from the decay of grasses, is black, well
decomposed, and occasionally intermingled with shells and sand. The moor
is traversed by canals, which serve for the transport of the excavated
peat in boats. The peat, when brought to the manufactory, is emptied
into a cistern, which, by communicating with the adjacent canal,
maintains a constant level of water. From this cistern the peat is
carried up by a chain of buckets and emptied into a hopper, where it is
caught by toothed cylinders in rapid revolution, and cut or torn to
pieces. Thence it passes into a chamber where the fine parts are
separated from unbroken roots and fibres by revolving brushes, which
force the former through small holes in the walls of the chamber, while
the latter are swept out through a larger passage. The pulverized peat
finally falls into a cistern, in which it is agitated by revolving arms.
A stream of water constantly enters this vessel from beneath, while a
chain of buckets as rapidly carries off the peat pulp. All sand, shells,
and other heavy matters, remain at the bottom of this cistern.

The peat pulp, thus purified, flows through wooden troughs into a series
of basins, in which the peat is formed and dried. These basins are made
upon the ground by putting up a square frame (of boards on edge,) about
one foot deep, and placing at the bottom old matting or a layer of flags
or reeds. Each basin is about a rod square, and 800 of them are
employed. They are filled with the peat pulp to the top. In a few days
the water either filters away into the ground, or evaporates, so that a
soft stratum of peat, about 3 inches in thickness, remains. Before it
begins to crack from drying, it is divided into blocks, by pressing into
it a light trellis-like framework, having thin partitions that serve to
indent the peat in lines corresponding to the intended divisions. On
further drying, the mass separates into blocks at the lines thus
impressed, and in a few days, they are ready to remove and arrange for
further desiccation.

The finished peats from Challeton's works, as well as those made by the
same method near Neuchatel, Switzerland, by the Messrs. Roy, were of
excellent quality, and in the opinion of the Commission from Holstein,
the method is admirably adapted for the purification and concentration
of the heavy kinds of peat.

In Holstein, a French company constructed, and in 1857 worked
successfully a portable machine for preparing peat on this plan, but
were shortly restrained by legal proceedings. Of their later operations
we have no information.

No data are at hand regarding the cost of producing fuel by Challeton's
machinery. It is believed, however, that his own works were
unremunerative, and several manufactories on his pattern, erected in
Germany, have likewise proved unprofitable. The principle is, however, a
good one, though his machinery is only applicable to earthy or pitchy,
and not to very fibrous peat. It has been elsewhere applied with
satisfactory results.

_Simplified machinery_ for applying Challeton's method is in operation
at Langenberg, near Stettin, in Prussia.[23] The moss-meadows along the
river Oder, near which Langenberg is situated, are but a foot or so
higher at the surface than the medium level of this river, and are
subject to frequent and sudden inundations, so that draining and partial
drying of the peat are out of the question. The character of the peat is
unadapted to cutting by hand, since portions of it are pitchy and
crumble too easily to form good sods; and others, usually the lower
layers, at a depth of seven feet or more, are made up to a considerable
extent of quite firm reeds and flags, having the consistence of half
decayed straw. The earthy peat is manufactured after Challeton's method.
It is raised with a steam dredger of 20 horse power, and emptied into
flat boats, seven in number, which are drawn to the works by an endless
rope operated by horse power. The works themselves are situated on a
small sand hill in the middle of the moor, and communicate by canal with
the dredger and with the drying ground. A chain of buckets, working in
a frame 45 feet long, attached by a horizontal hinge to the top of the
machine house, reaches over the dock where the boats haul up, into the
rear end of the latter; and, as the buckets begin to raise the peat, the
boat itself is moved under the frame towards the house, until, with a
man's assistance, its entire load is taken up. The contents of one boat
are six square yards, with a depth of one foot, and a boat is emptied in
20 minutes time. Forty to forty-four boatloads are thus passed into the
pulverizing machine daily, by two chains of buckets.

The peat-mud falls from the buckets into a large wooden trough, which
branches into two channels, conducting to two large tubs standing side
by side. These tubs are 10 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, and are
made of 2-inch plank. Within each tub is placed concentrically a
cylindrical sieve, or colander, 8 feet in diameter and 2 feet high, made
of 3/8 round iron, and it is within this that the peat is emptied. The
peat is stirred and forced through the meshes of the sieve by four arms
of a shaft that revolves 20 times per minute, the arms carrying at their
extremities stiff vertical brooms, which rub the inside of the sieve.

In these four tubs the peat is pulverized under addition of water; the
fine parts pass the sieves, while the latter retain the coarse fibres,
roots, etc. The peat-mud flows from the tubs into mills, made like a
flour mill, but the "stones" constructed of hard wood. The "stones" have
a diameter of 8 feet 6 inches; the lower is 8 inches; the upper 21
inches thick. The pressure of the upper "stone" is regulated by
adjusting the level of the discharging channel, so that the "stone" may
be more or less buoyed, or even fully floated by the water with which it
is surrounded.

The peat-substance, which is thus finely ground, gathers from the four
mills into a common reservoir whence it is lifted by a centrifugal pump
into a trough, which distributes it over the drying ground.

The drying ground consists of the surface formed by grading the sand
hill, on which the works are built, and includes about 30 English acres.
This is divided into small plots, each of which is enclosed on three
sides with a wall of earth, and on the fourth side by boards set on
edge. Each plot is surrounded by a ditch to carry off water, and by
means of portable troughs, the peat is let on from the main channel. The
peat-slime is run into these beds to the depth of 20 to 22 inches, an
acre being covered daily. After 4 to 8 days, according to the weather,
the peat has lost so much water, which, rapidly soaks off through the
sand, that its surface begins to crack. It is then thoroughly trodden by
men, shod with boards 5 inches by 10 inches, and after 6 to 8 days more,
it is cut with sharp spades into sods. The peats are dried in the usual

The works at Langenberg yielded, in 1863, as the result of the
operations of 60 days of 12 hours each, 125,000 cwt. of marketable peat.
It is chiefly employed for metallurgical purposes, and sells at 3-1/3
Silver-groschen, or nearly 8 cents per cwt. The specific gravity of the
peat ranges from 0.73 to 0.90.

_Roberts' Process._

In this country attempts have been made to apply Challeton's method. In
1865, Mr. S. Roberts, of Pekin, N. Y., erected machinery at that place,
which was described in the "Buffalo Express," of Nov. 17, 1865, as

"In outward form, the machine was like a small frame house on wheels,
supposing the smoke-stack to be a chimney. The engine and boiler are of
locomotive style; the engine being of thirteen horse power. The
principal features of the machine are a revolving elevator and a
conveyer. The elevator is seventy-five feet long, and runs from the top
of the machine to the ground, where the peat is dug up, placed on the
elevator, carried to the top of the machine, and dropped into a
revolving wheel that cuts it up; separates from it all the coarse
particles, bits of sticks, stones, etc.; and throws them to one side.
The peat is next dropped into a box below, where water is passed in,
sufficient to bring it to the consistency of mortar. By means of a slide
under the control of the engineer, it is next sent to the rear of the
machine, where the conveyer, one hundred feet long, takes it, and
carries it within two rods of the end; at which point the peat begins to
drop through to the ground to the depth of about four or five inches.
When sufficient has passed through to cover the ground to the end of the
conveyer,--two rods,--the conveyer is swung around about two feet, and
the same process gone through, as fast as the ground under the elevator,
for the distance of two rods in length and two feet in width gets
covered, the elevator being moved. At each swing of the elevator, the
peat just spread is cut into blocks (soft ones, however) by knives
attached to the elevator. It generally takes from three to four weeks
before it is ready for use. It has to lie a week before it is touched,
after the knives pass through it; when it is turned over, and allowed to
lie another week. It has then to be taken up, and put in a shed, and
within a week or ten days can be used, although it is better to let it
remain a little longer time. The machine can spread the peat over
eighteen square rods of ground--taking out one square rod of
peat--without being moved. After the eighteen rods are covered, the
machine is moved two rods ahead, enabling it to again spread a
semicircular space of some thirty-two feet in width by eighteen rods in
length. The same power, which drives the engine, moves the machine. It
is estimated by Mr. Roberts, that, by the use of this machine, from
twenty to thirty tons of peat can be turned out in a day."

Mr. Roberts informs us that he is making (April 1866,) some
modifications of his machinery. He employs a revolving digger to take up
the peat from the bed, and carry it to the machine. At the time of going
to press, we do not learn whether he regards his experiments as leading
to a satisfactory conclusion, or otherwise.

_Siemens' method._

Siemens, Professor of Technology, in the Agricultural Academy, at
Hohenheim, successfully applied the following mode of preparing peat for
the Beet Sugar Manufactory at Boeblingen, near Hohenheim, in the year
1857. Much of the peat there is simply cut and dried in the usual
manner. There is great waste, however, in this process, owing to the
frequent occurrence of shells and clay, which destroy the coherence of
the peat. Besides, a large quantity of material accumulates in the
colder months, from the ditches which are then dug, that cannot be
worked in the usual manner at that time of the year. It was to economize
this otherwise useless material that the following process was devised,
after a failure to employ Challeton's method with profit.

In the first place, the peat was dumped into a boarded cistern, where it
was soaked and worked with water, until it could be raised by a chain of
buckets into the pulverizer.

The pulverization of the peat was next effected by passing it through a
machine invented by Siemens, for pulping potatoes and beets. This
machine, (the same we suppose as that described and figured in Otto's
Landwirthschaftliche Gewerbe), perfectly breaks up and grates the peat
to a fine pulp, delivers it in the consistency of mortar into the
moulds, made of wooden frames, with divisions to form the peats. The
peat-paste is plastered by hand into these moulds, which are immediately
emptied to fill again, while the blocks are carried away to the drying
ground where they are cured in the ordinary style without cover.

In this simple manner 8 men were able to make 10,000 peats daily, which,
on drying, were considerably denser and harder than the cut peat.

The peat thus prepared, cost about one-third more than the cut peat.
Siemens reckoned, this greater cost would be covered by its better
heating effect, and its ability to withstand transportation without
waste by crumbling.

b. _Condensation of fibrous peat._

_Weber's method._

At Staltach, in Southern Bavaria, Weber has established an extensive
peat works, of which Vogel has given a circumstantial account.[24] The
peat at Staltach is very light and fibrous, but remarkably free from
mineral matters, containing less than 2 _per cent._ of ash in the
perfectly dry substance. The moor is large, (475 acres), and the peat is
from 12 to 20 feet in depth. The preparation consists in converting the
fresh peat into pulp or paste, forming it into moulds and drying it; at
first by exposure to the air at ordinary temperature, and finally, by
artificial heat, in a drying house constructed for the purpose.

The peat is cut out by a gang of men, in large masses, cleared of coarse
roots and sticks, and pushed on tram wagons to the works, which, are
situated lower than the surface of the bog. Arrived at the works, the
peat is carried upon an inclined endless apron, up to a platform 10 feet
high, where a workman pushes it into the pulverizing mill, the
construction of which is seen from the accompanying cut. The vertical
shaft _b_ is armed with sickle-shaped knives, _d_, which revolve between
and cut contrary to similar knives _c_, fixed to the interior of the
vessel. The latter is made of iron, is 3-1/2 feet high, 2 feet across at
top and 1-1/2 feet wide at the bottom. From the base of the machine at
_g_, the perfectly pulverized or minced peat issues as a stiff paste. If
the peat is dry, a little water is added. Vogel found the fresh peat to
contain 90 _per cent._, of water, the pulp 92 _per cent._ Weber's
machine, operated by an engine of 10 horse power, working usually to
half its capacity only, reduced 400 cubic feet of peat per hour, to the
proper consistency for moulding.

[Illustration: Fig. 10.--WEBER'S PEAT MILL.]

Three modes of forming the paste into blocks have been practiced. One
was in imitation of that employed with mud-peat. The paste was carried
by railway to sheds, where it was filled by hand into moulds 17 inches
by 7-1/4 by 5-1/2 inches, and put upon frames to dry. These sheds
occupied together 52,000 square feet, and contained at once 200,000
peats. The peats remained here 8 to 14 days or more, according to the
weather, when they were either removed to the drying house, or piled in
large stacks to dry slowly out-of-doors. The sheds could be filled and
emptied at least 12 times each season, and since they protected from
light frosts, the season began in April and lasted until November.

The second mode of forming the peat was to run off the pulp into large
and deep pits, excavated in the ground, and provided with drains for
carrying off water. The water soaked away into the soil, and in a few
weeks of good weather, the peat was stiff enough to cut out into blocks
by the spade, having lost 20 to 25 _per cent._ of its water, and 15 _per
cent._ of its bulk. The blocks were removed to the drying sheds, and set
upon edge in the spaces left by the shrinking of the peats made by the
other method. The working of the peat for the pits could go on, except
in the coldest weather, as a slight covering usually sufficed to protect
them from frost.

Both of these methods have been given up as too expensive, and are
replaced, at present, by the following:

In the third method the peat-mass falls from the mill into a hopper,
which directs it between the rolls _A B_ of fig. 11, (see next page).
The roll _A_ has a series of boxes on its periphery _m m_, with movable
bottoms which serve as moulds. The peat is carried into these boxes by
the rolls _c c_. The iron projections _n n_ of the large roll _B_, which
work cog-like into the boxes, compress the peat gently and, at last, the
eccentric p acting upon the pin _z_, forces up the movable bottom of the
box and throws out the peat-block upon an endless band of cloth, which
carries it to the drying place.

The peats which are dried at first under cover and therefore slowly,
shrink more evenly and to a greater extent than those which are allowed
to dry rapidly. The latter become cracked upon the surface and have
cavities internally, which the former do not. This fact is of great
importance for the density of the peat, for its usefulness in producing
intense heat, and its power to withstand carriage.

[Illustration: Fig. 11--WEBER'S PEAT MOULDING MACHINE.]

The _complete drying_ is, on the other hand, by this method, a much
slower process, since the dense, fissureless exterior of the peats
hinders the escape of water from within. It requires, in fact, several
months of ordinary drying for the removal of the greater share of the
water, and at the expiration of this time they are still often moist in
the interior.

Artificial drying is therefore employed to produce the most compact,
driest, and best fuel.

Weber's _Drying house_ is 120 feet long and 46 feet wide. Four large
flues traverse the whole length of it, and are heated with the pine
roots and stumps which abound in the moor. These flues are enclosed in
brick-work, leaving a narrow space for the passage of air from without,
which is heated by the flues, and is discharged at various openings in
the brick-work into the house itself, where the peat is arranged on
frames. The warm air being light, ascends through the peat, charges
itself with moisture, thereby becomes heavier and falls to the floor,
whence it is drawn off by flues of sheet zinc that pass up through the
roof. This house holds at once 300,000 peats, which are heated to 130°
to 145° F., and require 10 to 14 days for drying.

The effect of the hot air upon the peat is, in the first place, to
soften and cause it to swell; it, however, shortly begins to shrink
again and dries away to masses of great solidity. It becomes almost
horny in its character, can be broken only by a heavy blow, and endures
the roughest handling without detriment. Its quality as fuel is
correspondingly excellent.

The effects of the mechanical treatment and drying on the Staltach peat,
are seen from the subjoined figures:

                                     _Specific    per Cubic  _Per cent of
                                      Gravity._      Foot._      Water._

 Peat, raised and dried in usual way,  0.24          15        18 to 20
 Machine-worked and hot-dried          0.65          35           12

Vogel estimates the cost of peat made by Weber's method at 5 Kreuzers
per (Bavarian) hundred weight, while that of ordinary peat is 13-1/2
Kreuzers. Schroeder, in his comparison of machine-wrought and ordinary
peat, demonstrates that the latter can be produced much cheaper than was
customary in Bavaria, in 1859, by a better system of labor.

Weber's method was adopted with some improvements in an extensive works
built in 1860, by the Government of Baden, at Willaringen, for the
purpose of raising as much fuel as possible, during the course of a
lease that expired with the year 1865.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--GEYSSER'S PEAT MACHINE.]

_Gysser's method._[25]--Rudolph Gysser, of Freiburg, who was charged
with the erection of the works at Willaringen just alluded to, invented
a portable hand-machine on the general plan of Weber, but with
important improvements; and likewise omitted and varied some details of
the manufacture, bringing it within the reach of parties of small means.

In the accompanying cuts, (figs. 12, 13, and 14), are given an elevation
of Gysser's machine, together with a bird's-eye view and vertical
section of the interior mechanism.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.]

[Illustration: Fig. 14.]

It consists of a cast iron funnel _c d i_ of the elevation, (fig. 12),
having above a sheet iron hopper _a b_ to receive the peat, and within a
series of six knives fastened in a spiral, and curving outwards and
downwards, (figs. 13 and 14); another series of three similar knives is
affixed to a vertical shaft, which is geared to a crank and turned by a
man standing on the platform _j k_; these revolving knives curve upwards
and cut between and in a direction contrary to the fixed knives; below
the knives, and affixed to the shaft a spiral plate of iron and a
scraper _m_, (fig. 13), serve to force the peat, which has been at once
minced and carried downwards by the knives, as a somewhat compressed
mass through the lateral opening at the bottom of the funnel, whence it
issues as a continuous hollow cylinder like drain-tile, having a
diameter of four inches. The iron cone _i_, held in the axis of the
opening by the thin and sharp-edged support _g h_, forms the bore of the
tube of peat as it issues. Two men operate the machine; one turning the
crank, which, by suitable gearing, works the shaft, and the other
digging and throwing in the peat. The mass, as it issues from the
machine, is received by two boys alternately, who hold below the opening
a semi-cylindrical tin-plate shovel, (fig. 15), of the width and length
of the required peats, and break or rather wipe them off, when they
reach the length of 14 inches.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.]

[Illustration: Fig. 16.]

The formed peats are dried in light, cheap and portable houses, Fig. 17,
each of which consists of six rectangular frames supported one above
another, and covered by a light roof. The frames, Fig. 16, have square
posts at each corner like a bedstead, and are made by nailing light
strips to these posts. The tops of these posts are obtusely beveled to
an edge, and at the bottom they are notched to correspond. The direction
of the edges and of the notches in two diagonally opposite posts, is at
right angles to that of the other two. By this construction the frames,
being of the same size, when placed above each other, fit together by
the edges and notches of their posts into a structure that cannot be
readily overturned. The upper frame has a light shingled roof, which
completes the house. Each frame has transverse slats, cast in plaster of
Paris, 20 in number, which support the peats. The latter being tubular,
dry more readily, uniformly, and to a denser consistence than they could

The machine being readily set up where the peat is excavated, the labor
of transporting the fresh and water-soaked material is greatly reduced.
The drying-frames are built up into houses as fast as they are filled
from the machine. They can be set up anywhere without difficulty,
require no leveling of the ground, and, once filled, no labor in turning
or stacking the peats is necessary; while the latter are insured against
damage from rain. These advantages, Gysser claims, more than cover their

[Illustration: Fig. 17.]

The daily production of a machine operated by two men with the
assistance of one or two boys, is 2500 to 3000 peats, which, on drying,
have 9-1/2 to 10 inches of length, and 2-1/2 in diameter, and weigh, on
the average, one pound each.

c.--_Condensation of peat of all kinds._--_Weber's method with modified

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--SCHLICKEYSEN'S PEAT MILL.]

_Schlickeysen's Machine._[26]--This machine has been in use in Germany
since 1860, in the preparation of peat. It appears to have been
originally constructed for the working and moulding of clay for making
bricks. The principle of its operation is identical with that of Weber's
process. The peat is finely pulverized, worked into a homogenous mass,
and moulded into suitable forms. Like Gysser's machine, it forces the
peat under some pressure through a nozzle, or, in the larger kinds
through several nozzles, whence it issues in a continuous block or pipe
that is cut off in proper lengths, either by hand or by mechanism It
consists of a vertical cylinder, through the axis of which revolves a
shaft, whereon are fastened the blades, whose edges cut and whose
winding figure forces down the peat. The blades are arranged nearly, but
not exactly, in a true spiral; the effect is therefore that they act
unequally upon the mass, and thus mix and divide it more perfectly. No
blades or projections are affixed to the interior of the cylinder.
Above, where the peat enters into a flaring hopper, is a scraper, that
prevents adhesion to the sides and gives downward propulsion to the
peat. The blades are, by this construction, very strong, and not liable
to injury from small stones or roots, and effectually reduce the
toughest and most compact peat.

Furthermore, addition of water is not only unnecessary in any case, but
the peat may be advantageously air-dried to a considerable extent before
it enters the machine. Wet peat is, indeed, worked with less expenditure
of power; but the moulded peats are then so soft as to require much care
in the handling, and must be spread out in single courses, as they will
not bear to be placed one upon another. Peat, that is somewhat dry,
though requiring more power to work, leaves the machine in blocks that
can be piled up on edge and upon each other, six or eight high, without
difficulty, and require, of course, less time for curing.

The cut, (fig. 18), represents one of Schlickeysen's portable
peat-mills, with elevator for feeding, from which an idea of the
pulverizing arrangements may be gathered.

In Livonia, near Pernan, according to Leo, two of Schlickeysen's
machines, No. 6, were put in operation upon a purely fibrous peat. They
were driven by an engine of 12 horse-power. The peat was plowed, once
harrowed, then carted directly to the hopper of the machine. These two
machines, with 26 men and 4 horses, produced daily 60,000 peats = 7500
cubic feet. 100 cubic feet of these peats were equal in heating effect
to 130 cubic feet of fir-wood, and cost but two-thirds as much. The
peats were extremely hard, and dried in a few days sufficiently for use.
In 1864, five large Schlickeysen machines were in operation at one
establishment at St. Miskolz, in Hungary.

The smaller sizes of Schlickeysen's machine are easily-portable, and
adapted for horse or hand-power.

_Leavitt's Peat-condensing and Moulding Mill._[27]--In this country, Mr.
T. H. Leavitt, of Boston, has patented machinery, which is in operation
at East Lexington, Mass., at the works of the Boston Peat Company. The
process is essentially identical with that of Weber, the hot-drying
omitted. The fresh peat is pulverized or cut fine, moulded into blocks,
and dried on light frames in the open air. The results claimed by Mr.
Leavitt, indicate, that his machine is very efficacious.

It consists, principally, of a strong box or cistern, three feet in
diameter, and six feet high, the exterior of which, with its gearing, is
shown in figure 19. The mill is adapted to be driven by a four
horse-power engine.

"The upper portion of the box is divided by a series of horizontal
partitions, the upper ones being open latticework, and the lower ones
perforated with numerous holes. The upright shaft, which rotates in the
centre of the box, carries a series of arms or blades, extending
alternately on opposite sides, and as these revolve, they cut the peat,
and force it through the openings in the diaphragms. The lower portion
of the box, in place of complete partitions, has a series of corrugated
shelves extending alternately from opposite sides, and the peat is
pressed and scraped from these by a series of arms adapted to the work.
By this series of severe operations the air-bubbles are expelled from
the peat, and it is reduced to a homogeneous paste. When it arrives at
the bottom of the box, it is still further compressed by the converging
sides of the hopper, and it is received in light moulds which are
carried on an endless belt." Mr. Leavitt has patented the use of
powdered peat for the purpose of preventing the prepared peat from
adhering to the moulds.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--LEAVITT'S PEAT MILL.]

This mill, it is asserted, will condense 40 tons of crude peat daily,
which, at Lexington, is estimated to yield 10 to 14 tons of dry
merchantable fuel. The cost of producing the latter is asserted to be
less than $2.00 per ton; while its present value, in Boston, is $10 per
ton. It requires seven men, three boys, and two horses to dig, cart,
mill, and spread the peat. The machine costs $600, the needful
buildings, engine, etc., from $2000 to $3000. The samples of peat,
manufactured by this machine, are of excellent quality. The drying in
the open air is said to proceed with great rapidity, eight or ten days
being ordinarily sufficient in the summer season. The dry peat, at
Lexington, occupies one-fourth the bulk, and has one-fourth to one-third
the weight of the raw material; the latter, as we gather, being by no
means saturated with water, but well drained, and considerably dry,
before milling.

_Ashcroft & Betteley's Machinery._

The American Peat Company, of Boston, are the owners of five patents,
taken out by Messrs. Ashcroft & Betteley, for peat machinery. They claim
to "make fuel equal to the best English Cannel coal," and really do make
a very good peat, though with a rather complicated apparatus. The
following statement is derived from the circular issued by the company.
The machinery consists of the following parts:--

_First._--TRITURATING MACHINE--36 inches diameter, 4 feet 6 inches high,
with arms both on the inside of this cylinder and on the upright
revolving shaft. In the bottom of the cylinder or tub a large slide gate
is fitted to work with a lever, so that the peat may be discharged, at
pleasure, into the Combing Machine, which is placed directly under this

_Second._--COMBING MACHINE--Semi-circular vessel 6 feet long and 3 feet
6 inches in diameter. Inside, a shaft is placed, which is provided with
fingers, placed one inch apart; the fingers to be 20 inches long, so as
to reach within 2 inches of the bottom and sides of this vessel. Another
shaft, of the same size and dimensions, is placed at an angle of 45°, 26
inches from the first shaft, with arms of the same dimensions placed
upon this shaft, with the same spaces, and so placed that this set of
arms pass between the first set, both shafts revolving in the same
direction; the second shaft mentioned being driven at double the speed
of the first. At the bottom of this Combing Machine is to be fixed a
gate, to be operated by a lever, to deliver, at pleasure, the cleansed
peat into the Manipulator or Kneading Machine.

_Third._--MANIPULATOR.--A Tube of iron 7 feet long and 16 inches
diameter, fitted with a shaft, with flanges upon it, to gain 6 inches in
each revolution.

_Fourth._--CONVEYOR.--This Conveyor, to be made with two endless chains
and buckets of iron, with a driving shaft. The hopper, to receive the
peat when first taken from the bog, to be placed below the surface of
the ground, so that the top edge of the hopper may be level with the
surface, that the peat may be dumped from the car by which it is taken
from the bog, and carried to the hopper without hand labor; and this
conveyor to be so arranged that the peat will be delivered into the
Triturator without hand labor.

_Fifth._--CONVEYOR.--Another conveyor, precisely like the one above
described, is to be placed so as to convey the peat from the Manipulator
into the Tank without hand labor.

_Sixth._--TANK.--A tank 35 feet high and 15 feet in diameter; the bottom
of this tank is made sloping towards the sides, at an angle of 65°, and
is covered with sole tile or drain tile, and the entire inside of this
tank is also ribbed with these tile; the ends of these pipes of tile
being left open, so that the water which percolates through the pores of
the tile, by the pressure of the column of peat, will pass out at the
bottom, through the false floor of the tank into the drain, and the
solid peat is retained in the tank. A worm is fixed in the bottom of
this tank, which is driven by machinery, which forces out the peat in
the form of brick, which are cut to any length, and stacked up in sheds,
for fuel, after it is fully dried by the air.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--VERSMANN'S PEAT PULVERIZER.]

_Versmann's Machine_[28]--This machine, see Fig. 20, was invented by a
German engineer, in London, and was patented there in Sept., 1861. It
consists of a funnel or hollow cone _b_, of boiler-plate, from one to
two feet in diameter at top, and perforated with 200 to 300 small holes
per square foot of surface, within which rapidly revolves an iron cone
_a_, carrying on its circumference two spiral knives. The peat thrown in
at the top of the funnel is carried down by the knives, and at once cut
or broken and forced in a state of fine division through the holes of
the funnel, as through a colander. The fine peat collects on the
inclined bottom of the chamber _d_, whence it is carried by means of
Archimedean screws to a moulding machine. The coarse stuff that escapes
pulverization falls through _e_ into the cavity _c_. It may be employed
as fuel for the engine, or again put through the machine.

This machine effects a more perfect pulverization of the peat, than any
other hitherto described. This extreme division is, however, unnecessary
to the perfection of the product, and is secured at great expense of
power. Through the opening at the bottom of the funnel, much
unpulverized peat finds its way, which must be continually returned to
the machine. Again, stones, entering the funnel, are likely to break or
damage the spiral knives, which bear close to the walls of the funnel.

The pulverized peat must be moulded by hand, or by a separate

_Buckland's Machine_[29] is identical in principle with Versmann's, and
in construction differs simply in the fact of the interior cone having
spiral grooves instead of spiral knives. This gives greater simplicity
and durability to the machine. It appears, however, to require too much
power to work it, and can hardly equal other machines in the quantity of
product it will deliver for a given expenditure. The ground peat yielded
by it, must be moulded by hand, or by other machinery. This machine, we
understand, has been tried near Boston, and abandoned as uneconomical.

The machines we have described are by no means all that have been
proposed and patented. They include, however, so the author believes,
all that have been put into actual operation, at the date of this
writing, or that present important peculiarities of construction.

The account that has been given of them will serve to illustrate what
mechanism has accomplished hitherto in the manufacture of peat-fuel, and
may save the talent of the American inventor from wasting itself on what
is already in use, or having been tried, has been found wanting. At
present, very considerable attention is devoted to the subject.
Scarcely a week passes without placing one or more Peat-mill patents on
record. In this treatise our business is with what has been before the
public in a more or less practical way, and it would, therefore, be
useless to copy the specifications of new, and for the most part untried
patents, which can be found in the files of our mechanical Journals.

14. _Artificial Drying of Peat._

As we have seen, air-dry peat contains 20 to 30 and may easily contain
50 _per cent._ of water, and the best hot-made machine peat contains 15
_per cent._ When peat is used as fuel in ordinary furnaces, this water
must be evaporated, and in this process a large amount of heat is
consumed, as is well understood. It is calculated, that the temperature
which can be produced in perfectly burning full-dried peat, compares
with that developed in the combustion of peat containing water, as

 Pyrometric effect of perfectly dry peat                   4000°  F.
    "         "       peat with 30 _per cent._ of water    3240°  "
    "         "         "       50        "         "      2848°  "

But, furthermore, moist or air-dried peat does not burn in ordinary
furnaces, except with considerable waste, as is evident from the
smokiness of its flame. When air-dried peat is distilled in a retort, a
heavy yellow vapor escapes for some time after the distillation begins,
which, obviously, contains much inflammable matter, but which is so
mixed and diluted with steam that it will not burn at all, or but
imperfectly. It is obvious then, that when a high temperature is to be
attained, anhydrous or full-dried peat is vastly superior to that which
has simply been cured in the open air.

Notice has already been made of Weber's drying-house, the use of which
is an essential part of his system of producing peat-fuel. Various other
arrangements have been proposed from time to time, for accomplishing
the same object. It appears, however, that in most cases the
anticipations regarding their economy have not been fully realized. It
is hardly probable, that artificially dried peat can be employed to
advantage except where waste heat is utilized in the operation.

A point of the utmost importance in reference to the question of drying
peat by artificial warmth is this, viz.: Although the drying may be
carried so far as to remove the whole of the water, and produce an
absolutely dry fuel, the peat absorbs moisture from the air again on
exposure; so that drying to less than 15 _per cent._ of water is of no
advantage, unless the peat is to be used immediately, or within a few
days. The employment of highly dried peat is consequently practicable
only for smelting-works, locomotives, and manufacturing establishments,
where it may be consumed as fast as it is produced.

A fact likewise to be regarded is, that artificial drying is usually
inapplicable to fresh peat. The precautions needful in curing peat have
already been detailed. Above all, slow drying is necessary, in order
that the blocks shrink uniformly, without cracking and warping in such a
way as to seriously injure their solidity and usefulness. In general,
peat must be air-dried to a considerable extent before it can be
kiln-dried to advantage. If exposed to dry artificial heat, when
comparatively moist, a hard crust is formed externally, which greatly
hinders subsequent desiccation. At the same time this crust, contracting
around the moist interior, becomes so rifted and broken, that the
ultimate shrinkage and condensation of the mass is considerably less
than it would have been had the drying proceeded more slowly.

Besides Weber's drying oven, the fuel for firing which is derived
without cost from the stumps and roots of trees that are abundant on the
moor, at Staltach, and which are thus conveniently disposed of, we have
briefly to notice several other drying kilns with regard to all of
which, however, it must be remarked, that they can only be employed with
profit, by the use of waste heat, or, as at Staltach, of fuel that is
comparatively worthless for other purposes.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--CARINTHIAN PEAT DRYING-KILN.]

The _Peat Kilns_ employed at Lippitzbach, in Carinthia, and at Neustadt,
in Hanover, are of the kind shown in fig. 21. The peat with which the
main chamber is filled, is heated directly by the hot gases that arise
from a fire made in the fire-place at the left. These gases first enter
a vault, where they intermingle and cool down somewhat; thence they
ascend through the openings of the brick grating, and through the mass
of peat to the top of the chamber. On their way they become charged
with vapor, and falling, pass off through the chimney, as is indicated
by the arrows. The draught is regulated by the damper on the top of the
chimney. To manage the fire, so that on the one hand the chimney is
sufficiently heated to create a draught, and on the other waste of fuel,
or even ignition of the peat itself is prevented, requires some care.

In _Welkner's Peat Kiln_[30] (fig. 22) the peat, previously air-dried,
is exposed to a stream of hot air, until it is completely desiccated,
and the arrangement is such, that air-dried peat may be thrown in at the
top, and the hot-dried fuel be removed at the bottom, continuously.

In the cut, _A_ represents the section of a wooden cylinder about 10
feet wide and 6-1/2 feet deep, which surmounts a funnel of iron plate
_A'_. The mouth of the funnel is closed by a door _n_; about 20 inches
above the door the pipe _B_, which conducts hot air, terminates in the
ring _a a_, through the holes in which, _e e_, it is distributed into
the funnel filled with peat. The air is driven in by a blower, and is
heated by circulating through a system of pipes, which are disposed in
the chimney of a steam boiler. From time to time a quantity of dried
peat is drawn off into the wagon _D_, which runs on rails, and a similar
amount of undried peat is thrown in above.

According to Welkner, a kiln of the dimensions stated, which cost, about
$1800 gold, is capable of desiccating daily ten tons of peat with 20
_per cent._ of water, using thereby 2000 cubic feet of air of a
temperature of 212° F. When the air is heated by a fire kept up
exclusively for that purpose, 10 _per cent._ of the dried peat, or its
equivalent, is consumed in the operation. At the Alexis Smelting Works,
near Lingen, in Hanover, this peat kiln furnishes about half the fuel
for a high furnace, in which bog iron ore is smelted. The drying costs
but little, since half the requisite heat is obtained from the waste
heat of the furnace itself.

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--WELKNER'S PEAT DRYING KILN.]

The advantages of this drying kiln are, that it is cheap in construction
and working; dries gradually and uniformly; occupies little ground, and
runs without intermission.

Other drying ovens are described in Knapp's _Lehrbuch_ der _Chemischen
Technologie_, 3. Aufl. Bd. 1, Theil 1, pp. 178-9; _Jahrbuch der
Bergakademien Schemnitz_ und _Leoben_, 1860, p. 108, 1861, p. 55;
Wagner's _Jahresbericht der Chemischen Technologie_, 1863, p. 748;
Zerrenner's _Metallurgische Gasfeuerung in Oesterreich_; Tunner's
_Stabeisen- und Stahlbereitung_, 2. Auflage, Bd. I, pp. 23-25.

15. _Peat Coal, or Coke._

When peat is charred, it yields a coal or coke which, being richer in
carbon, is capable of giving an intenser heat than peat itself, in the
same way that charcoal emits an intenser heat in its combustion than the
wood from which it is made.

Peat coal has been and is employed to some extent in metallurgical
processes, as a substitute for charcoal, and when properly prepared from
good peat, is in no way inferior to the latter; is, in fact, better.

It is only, however, from peat which naturally dries to a hard and dense
consistency, or which has been solidified on the principles of
Challeton's and Weber's methods, that a coal can be made possessing the
firmness necessary for furnace use. Fibrous peat, or that condensed by
pressure, as in Exter's, Elsberg's, and the Lithuanian process, yields
by coking or charring, a friable coal comparatively unsuited for heating

A peat which is dense as the result of proper mechanical treatment and
slow drying, yields a very homogeneous and compact coal, superior to any
wood charcoal, the best qualities weighing nearly twice as much per

Peat is either charred in pits and heaps, or in kilns. From the
regularity of the rectangular blocks into which peat is usually formed,
it may be charred more easily in pits than wood, since the blocks admit
of closer packing in the heap, and because the peat coal is less
inflammable than wood coal. The heaps may likewise be made much smaller
than is needful in case of wood, viz.: six to eight feet in diameter,
and four feet high. The pit is arranged as follows: The ground is
selected and prepared as for charcoal burning, and should be elevated,
dry and compact. Three stout poles are firmly driven into the ground, so
as to stand vertically and equi-distant from each other, leaving within
them a space of six or eight inches. Around these poles the peats are
placed endwise, in concentric rows to the required width and height,
leaving at the bottom a number of air-channels of the width of one peat,
radiating from the centre outwards. The upper layers of peat are
narrowed in so as to round off the heap, which is first covered with dry
leaves, sods, or moss, over which a layer of soil is thrown. Dry, light
wood being placed at the bottom of the central shaft, it is kindled from
one of the canals at the bottom, and the charring is conducted as is
usual in making wood coal. The yield of coal ranges from 25 to 35 _per
cent._ of the peat by weight, and from 30 to 50 _per cent._ by volume.

Gysser recommends to mould the peat for charring in the form of
cylinders of 3 to 4 feet long, which, when dry, may be built up into a
heap like wood.

A great variety of ovens or kilns have been constructed for coking peat.

At the Gun Factory of Oberndorf, in Wirtemberg, peat is charred in the
kiln represented in the accompanying figure. The chamber is 9 feet high,
and 5-1/2 feet in diameter. The oven proper, _b b_, is surrounded by a
mantle of brick _a a_, and the space between, _c c_, is filled with
sand. Each wall, as well as the space, is 15 inches in thickness, and
the walls are connected by stones _d d_, at intervals of three feet.
Above the sole of the kiln, are three series of air holes, made by
imbedding old gun barrels in the walls. The door, which serves to empty
the kiln, is a plate of cast iron, the sides of its frame are wider than
the thickness of the wall, and by means of a board _e_, a box _m_ can be
made in front of the door, which is filled with sand to prevent access
of air. The peat is filled in through _i_, a channel being arranged
across the bottom of the kiln, from the door _f_, for kindling. When the
firing begins, the lowest air-holes and _i_ are open. When, through the
lower gun barrels, the peat is seen to be ignited, these are corked, and
those above are opened. When the smoke ceases to escape above, all the
openings are closed, _m_, is filled with sand, _i_ is covered over with
it, and the whole is left to cool. It requires about 8 to 9 days to
finish the charring of a charge. Several kilns are kept in operation, so
that the work proceeds uninterruptedly.




At Staltach, Weber prepares peat coal in a cylinder of sheet iron, which
is surrounded by masonry. Below, it rests on a grating of stout wire.
Above, it has a cover, that may be raised by a pulley and on one side is
attached a small furnace, figure 24, the draught of which is kept up by
means of a blower, or an exhauster, and the flame and hot gases from
it, _which contain no excess of oxygen_, play upon the peat and
decompose it, expelling its volatile portions without burning or wasting
it in the slightest degree. The construction of the furnace, see fig.
24, is such, that the sticks of wood, which are employed for fuel, are
supported at their ends on shoulders in the brick-work, and the draught
enters the fire above instead of below. The wood is hereby completely
consumed, and by regulating the supply of air at _a_ (fig. 25) by a
sliding cover, and at _b_ by a register, the flame and current of air
which enters the cylinder containing the peat, is intensely hot and
accomplishes a rapid carbonization of the peat, but as before stated,
does not burn it. In this furnace the wood, which is cut of uniform
length, is itself the grate, since iron would melt or rapidly burn out;
and the coals that fall are consumed by the air admitted through c. The
hot gases which enter the cylinder filled with peat near its top, are
distributed by pipes, and, passing off through the grating at the
bottom, enter the surrounding brick mantle. Before reaching the
exhaustor, however, they pass through a cooler in which a quantity of
tar and pyroligneous acid is collected.

Weber's oven is 15 feet in diameter, and 3-1/2 feet high; 528 cubic feet
of peat may be coked in it in the space of 15 hours. The wood furnace is
2 feet in section, and consumes for the above amount of peat 3-1/2 cwt.
of wood. So perfectly are the contents of the iron cylinder protected
from contact of oxygen, that a rabbit placed within it, has been
converted into coal without the singeing of a hair; and a bouquet of
flowers has been carbonized, perfectly retaining its shape. The yield of
coal in Weber's oven is nearly 50 _per cent._ of the peat by weight.

Whenever possible, charring of peat should be carried on, or aided by
waste heat, or the heat necessary to coking should be itself economized.
In manufacturing and metallurgical establishments, a considerable
economy in both the drying and coking may often be effected in this

On the bog of Allen, in Ireland, we have an example of this kind. Peat
is placed in iron ovens in the form of truncated pyramids, the bottoms
of which consist of movable and perforated iron plates. The ovens are
mounted on wheels, and run on a rail track.

Five ovens filled with peat are run into a pit in a drying house, in
which blocks of fresh peat are arranged for drying. Each oven is
connected with a flue, and fire is applied. The peat burns below, and
the heat generated in the coking, warms the air of the drying house.
When the escaping smoke becomes transparent, the pit in which the ovens
stand is filled with water slightly above their lower edges, whereby
access of air to the burning peat is at once cut off. When cool, the
ovens are run out and replaced by others filled with peat. Each oven
holds about 600 lbs. of peat, and the yield of coal is 25 _per cent._ by
weight. The small yield compared with that obtained by Weber's method,
is due to the burning of the peat and the coal itself, in the draught of
air that passes through the ovens.

The author has carbonized, in an iron retort, specimens of peat prepared
by Elsberg's, Leavitt's, and Aschcroft and Betteley's processes.
Elsberg's gave 35, the others 37 _per cent._ of coal. The coal from
Elsberg's peat was greatly fissured, and could be crushed in the fingers
to small fragments. That from the other peats was more firm, and
required considerable exertion to break it. All had a decided metallic
brilliancy of surface.

16.--_Metallurgical Uses of Peat._

In Austria, more than any other country, peat has been employed in the
manufacture of iron. In Bavaria, Prussia, Wirtemberg, Hanover, and
Sweden, and latterly in Great Britain, peat has been put to the same
use. The general results of experience, are as follows:--

Peat can only be employed to advantage, when wood and mineral coal are
expensive, or of poor quality.

Peat can be used in furnaces adapted for charcoal, but not in those
built for mineral coal.

Good air-dry peat, containing 20 to 30 _per cent._ of water, in some
cases may replace a share of charcoal in the high furnace.

At Pillersee, in Austria, spathic iron ore has been reduced by a mixture
of fir-wood charcoal, and air-dry peat in the proportions of three
parts by bulk of the former to one of the latter. The use of peat was
found to effect a considerable saving in the outlay for fuel, and
enabled the production to be somewhat increased, while the excellence of
the iron was in no way impaired. The peat was of the best quality, and
was worked and moulded by hand.

When the ore is refractory and contains impurities that must be fluxed
and worked off in slag, a large proportion of air-dry peat cannot be
used to advantage, because the evaporation of the water in it consumes
so much heat, that the requisite temperature is not easily attained.

At Achthal, in Bavaria, air-dry peat was employed in 1860, to replace a
portion of the fir wood charcoal, which had been used for smelting an
impure clay-iron-stone: the latter fuel having become so dear, that peat
was resorted to as a make shift. Instead of one "sack," or 33 cubic feet
of charcoal, 24 cubic feet of charcoal and 15 cubic feet of peat were
employed in each charge, and the quantity of ore had to be diminished
thereby, so that the yield of pig was reduced, on the average, by about
17 _per cent._ In this case the quality of the iron, when worked into
bar, was injured by the use of peat, obviously from an increase of its
content of phosphorus. The exclusive use of air-dry peat as fuel in the
high furnace, appears to be out of the question.

At Ransko, in Bohemia, _kiln-dried peat_, nearly altogether free from
water, has been employed in a high furnace, mixed with but one-third its
bulk of charcoal, and in cupola furnaces for re-melting pig, full-dried
peat has been used alone, answering the purpose perfectly.

The most important metallurgical application of peat is in the refining
of iron.

Dried peat is extensively used in puddling furnaces, especially in the
so-called gas puddling furnaces, in Carinthia, Steyermark, Silesia,
Bavaria, Wirtemberg, Sweden, and other parts of Europe. In Steyermark,
peat has been thus employed for 25 years.

Air-dry peat is, indeed, also employed, but is not so well adapted for
puddling, as its water burns away a notable quantity of iron. It is one
of the best known facts in chemistry, that ignited iron is rapidly
oxidized in a stream of water-vapor, free hydrogen being at the same
time evolved.

In the high furnace, _peat-coal_, when compact and firm (not crumbly)
may replace charcoal perfectly, but its cost is usually too great.

When peat or peat-coal is employed in smelting, it must be as free as
possible from ash, because the ash usually consists largely of silica,
and this must be worked off by flux. If the ash be carbonate of lime, it
will, in most cases, serve itself usefully as flux. In hearth puddling,
it is important not only that the peat or peat-coal contain little ash,
but especially that the ash be as free as possible from sulphates and
phosphates, which act so deleteriously on the metal. The notion that, in
general, peat and peat charcoal are peculiarly adapted for the iron
manufacture, because they are free from sulphur and phosphorus, is
extremely erroneous. Not infrequently they contain these bodies in such
quantity, as to forbid their use in smelting.

In the gas-puddling furnace, or in the ordinary reverberatory, impure
peat may, however, be employed, since the ashes do not come in contact
with the metal. The only disadvantage in the use of peat in these
furnaces is, that the grates require cleaning more frequently, which
interrupts the fire, and, according to Tunner, increases the consumption
of fuel 8 to 10 _per cent._, and diminishes the amount of metal that can
be turned out in a given time by the same quantity.

Notwithstanding the interruption of work, it has been found, at
Rothburga, in Austria, that by substitution of machine-made and
kiln-dried peat for wood in the gas-puddling furnace, a saving of 50
_per cent._ in the cost of bar iron was effected, in 1860. What is to
the point, in estimating the economy of peat, is the fact that while 6.2
cubic feet of dry fir-wood were required to produce 100 lbs. of crude
bar, this quantity of iron could be puddled with 4.3 cubic feet of peat.

In the gas furnace, a second blast of air is thrown into the flame,
effecting its complete combustion; Dellvik asserts, that at Lesjoeforss,
in Sweden, 100 lbs. of kiln-dried peat are equal to 197 lbs. of
kiln-dried wood in heavy forging. In an ordinary fire, the peat would be
less effective from the escape of unburned carbon in the smoke.

In other metallurgical and manufacturing operations where flame is
required, as well as in those which are not inconvenienced by the
ingredients of its ash, it is obvious that peat can be employed when
circumstances conspire to render its use economical.

17.--_Peat as a source of illuminating gas._

Prof Pettenkofer, of Munich, was the first to succeed in making
illuminating gas from wood; and peat, when operated according to his
method, furnishes also a gas of good quality, though somewhat inferior
to wood-gas in illuminating power.

It is essential, that well-dried peat be employed, and the waste heat
from the retorts may serve in part, at least, for the drying.

The retorts must be of a good conducting material; therefore cast iron
is better than clay. They are made of the [symbol: D] form, and must be
relatively larger than those used for coal. A retort of two feet width,
one foot depth, and 8 to 9 feet length, must receive but 100 lbs. of
peat at a charge.

The quantity of gas yielded in a given time, is much greater than from
bituminous coal. From retorts of the size just named, 8000 to 9000 cubic
feet of gas are delivered in 24 hours. The exit pipes must, therefore,
be large, not less than 5 to 6 inches, and the coolers must be much more
effective than is needful for coal gas, in order to separate from it the
tarry matters.

The number of retorts requisite to furnish a given volume of gas, is
much less than in the manufacture from coal. On the other hand, the
dimensions of the furnace are considerably greater, because the
consumption of fuel must be more rapid, in order to supply the heat,
which is carried off by the copious formation of gas.

Gas may be made from peat at a comparatively low temperature, but its
illuminating power is then trifling. At a red heat alone can we procure
a gas of good quality.

The chief impurity of peat-gas is carbonic acid: this amounts to 25 to
30 _per cent._ of the gas before purification, and if the peat be
insufficiently dried, it is considerably more. The quantity of slaked
lime that is consumed in purifying, is therefore much greater than is
needed for coal-gas, and is an expensive item in the making of peat-gas.

While wood-gas is practically free from sulphur compounds and ammonia,
peat-gas may contain them both, especially the latter, in quantity that
depends upon the composition of the peat, which, as regards sulphur and
nitrogen, is very variable.

Peat-gas is denser than coal-gas, and therefore cannot be burned to
advantage except from considerably wider orifices than answer for the
latter, and under slight pressure.

The above statements show the absurdity of judging of the value of peat
as a source of gas, by the results of trials made in gas works arranged
for bituminous coal.

As to the yield of gas we have the following data, weights and measures
being English:--

 100 lbs. of peat of medium quality from Munich, gave REISSIG   303 cub. ft.
      "   air-dry peat from Biermoos, Salzburg, gave RIEDINGER  305    "
      "   very light fibrous peat, gave REISSIG          379 to 430    "
      "   Exter's machine-peat, from Haspelmoor, gave           367    "

Thenius states, that, to produce 1000 English cubic feet of purified
peat-gas, in the works at Kempten, Bavaria, there are required in the
retorts 292 lbs of peat. To distil this, 138-1/2 lbs. of peat are
consumed in the fire; and to purify the gas from carbonic acid, 91-1/2
lbs. of lime are used. In the retorts remain 117 lbs. of peat coal, and
nearly 6 lbs. of tar are collected in the operation, besides smaller
quantities of acetic acid and ammonia.

According to Stammer, 4 cwt. of dry peat are required for 1000 cubic
feet of purified gas.

The quality of the gas is somewhat better than that made from bituminous

18.--_The examination of Peat as to its value for Fuel_, begins with and
refers to the air-dry substance, in which:

1.--Water is estimated, by drying the pulverized peat, at 212°, as long
as any diminution of weight occurs. Well-dried peat-fuel should not
contain more than 20 _per cent._ of water. On the other hand it cannot
contain less than 15 _per cent._, except it has been artificially dried
at a high temperature, or kept for a long time in a heated apartment.

2.--_Ash_ is estimated by carefully burning the dry residue in 1. In
first-rate fuel, it should amount to less than 3 _per cent._ If more
than 8 _per cent._, the peat is thereby rendered of inferior quality,
though peat is employed which contains considerably more.

3.--_Sulphur_ and _phosphorus_ are estimated by processes, which it
would be useless to describe here. Only in case of vitriol peats is so
much sulphur present, that it is recognizable by the suffocating fumes
of sulphuric acid or of sulphurous acid, which escape in the burning.
When peat is to be employed for iron manufacture, or under steam
boilers, its phosphorus, and especially its sulphur, should be
estimated, as they injure the quality of iron when their quantity
exceeds a certain small amount, and have a destructive effect on
grate-bars and boilers. For common uses it is unnecessary to regard
these substances.

4.--The quantity of _coal_ or _coke_ yielded by peat, is determined by
heating a weighed quantity of the peat to redness in an iron retort, or
in a large platinum crucible, until gases cease to escape. The neck of
the retort is corked, and when the vessel is cool, the coal is removed
and weighed. In case a platinum crucible is employed, it should have a
tight-fitting cover, and when gases cease to escape, the crucible is
quickly cooled by placing it in cold water.

Coal, or coke, includes of course the ash of the peat. This, being
variable, should be deducted, and the _ash-free coal_ be considered in
comparing fuels.

5.--The _density_ of peat-fuel may be ascertained by cutting out a block
that will admit of accurate measurement, calculating its cubic contents,
and comparing its weight with that of an equal bulk of water. To avoid
calculation, the block may be made accurately one or several cubic
inches in dimensions and weighed. The cubic inch of water at 60° F.,
weighs 252-1/2 grains.


[10] The apparent specific gravity here means the weight of the
mass,--the air-filled cavities and pores included--as compared with an
equal bulk of water. The real specific gravity of the _peat itself_ is
always greater than that of water, and all kinds of peat will sink in
water when they soak long enough, or are otherwise treated so that all
air is removed.

[11] The "full" cubic foot implies a cubic foot having no cavities or
waste space, such as exist in a pile, made up of numerous blocks. If a
number of peat blocks be put into a box and shaken together, the empty
space between the more or less irregular blocks, may amount to 46 _per
cent._ of the whole; and when closely packed, the cavities amount to 30
_per cent._, according to the observations of _Wasserzieher_.
(_Dingler's Journal_, Oct., 1864, p. 118.) Some confusion exists in the
statements of writers in regard to this matter, and want of attention to
it, has led to grave errors in estimating the weight of fuel.

[12] The _waste space_ in peat and wood as commonly piled, is probably
included here in the statement, and is usually about the same in both;
viz.: not far from 40 _per cent._

[13] See note on the preceding page.

[14] _Der Torf, etc._, S. 43.

[15] See page 00.

[16] On account of the great convenience of the decimal weights and
measures, and their nearly universal recognition by scientific men, we
have adopted them here. The gramme = 15 grains; 5 degrees centigrade = 9
degrees Fahrenheit.

[17] Pliny, Hist. Nat. (Lib. XVI, 1) expresses his pity for the
"miserable people" living in East Friesland and vicinity in his day, who
"dug out with the hands a moor earth, which, dried more by wind than
sun, they used for preparing their food and warming their bodies:"
_captum manibus lutum ventis magis quam sole siccantis, terra cibos et
rigentia septembrione viscera sua urunt_.

As regards the "_misera gens_," it should be said that rich grain fields
and numerous flourishing villages have occupied for several centuries
large portions of the Duevel moor near Bremen.

[18] For further account and plans of this machine see Dingler's
Polytechnisches Journal, Bd. 176, S. 336.

[19] Described and figured in Bulletin de la Societe d'Encouragement,
August 1857, p. 513; also Dingler's Polytechnisches Journal, Bd. 146, S.

[20] Berg- und Huettenmænnische Zeitung, 1859, Nr. 26.

[21] Henneberg's Journal fuer Landwirthschaft, 1858, S. 42.

[22] Henneberg's Journal fuer Landwirthschaft, 1858, p.p. 42 and 83.

[23] Dingler's Journal, Oct., 1864.

[24] Dingler's Polytechnisches Journal, Bd. 152, S. 272. See also,
Knapp, Lehrbuch der Chemischen Technologie, 3te Auflage, 1., 167.

[25] Der Torf; seine Bildung und Bereitungsweise, von Rudolph Gysser,
Weimar, 1864.

[26] Dingler's Journal, Bd. 165, S. 184.; und Bd. 172, S, 333.

[27] Scientific American, Feb. 10, 1866; also, Facts about Peat as Fuel,
by T. H. Leavitt, 2d Ed., Boston, p. 23.

[28] Dingler's Journal, Bd. 168, S. 306, und Bd. 172, S. 332.

[29] Described in Journal of the Society of Arts, 1860, p. 437.

[30] Bernemann & Kerl's Berg und Huettenmænnische Zeitung, 1862, 221.

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