The PeatFix project is a collaboration between Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Programme, the University of Manchester and Yorkshire Peat Partnership. The PeatFix project began in April 2022 with the appointment of Jo Welch as the project officer and has now been successfully running for 18 months.
Jo Welch has now left the programme and moved on to become a Peat Project Manager, which is positive because an aim of the Knowledge Transfer Programme was to support people to progress in their careers. This has meant that there was a brief hiatus with the Peatfix project between May and September this year, and resumed with Beth Thomas as the Project manager.
Progress over the last year
We chose a total of 11 exposed peat slopes, with 4 sediment traps installed on each slope and wind traps installed on 5 slopes. We have been trialling four different mixes on 1 square meter test sites. These solutions are made up of a different ratio of ingredients which include: heather mulch, wool, bracken, seed mix, paper mâché and water.
We are particularly interested in the water ratios to see if it is possible to apply a dry mixture and the data is indicating that the dry mixtures are still effective.
Over the last year between July 2022 and July 2023 we have been monitoring the experiment site and collecting raw data. We are monitoring mainly through two methods: analysis of the peat sediment deposited in the traps over time, and also analysing aerial photos and footage for vegetation regrowth.
In July this year, our team completed the final collection of raw data from the site. We now have a year’s worth of data from the sediment traps, along with daily meteorological data and information regarding the slope aspect and gradient and the local vegetation community.
We have recruited two PhD researchers from Manchester University to collate and analyse the data from the experiments. Our two researchers will spend the next few months analysing the data to determine the most effective treatment. We anticipate the final reports will be published in July 2024 and we hope to publish these in scientific journals.
The final phase of the project is to re-engage with contractors to determine the most cost effective and efficient way to apply the treatment on a larger scale.
Our Peatfix project has gained a lot of attention and interest from organisations involved in peat restoration. We are proud that this is a pioneering pilot project and have been pleased to host both the South West Peat Partnership and North Pennine AONB Peat Partnership to demonstrate the trial. We plan to share the findings of the Peatfix experiment with other peat partnerships across Britain.
We have also advised the National Trust who are now trialling Peatfix solutions on some of their landscape sites containing peat.
We have created a video about Peatfix, including how we are working with partners to make the project happen. You can find this and other fantastic peat related videos on our Vimeo channel here.
We’re excited to say we have secured a slot for PeatFix in a primetime evening show on BBC2, which will be broadcast in 2024. The exact details are currently embargoed, but we will endeavour to let you know when to expect the coverage when we are allowed to share this information.
Author: Rosie Snowden, Peat Programme Manager