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Peat soils of the Khibiny

Peat bog soils are widespread throughout the whole territory of the Murmansk region, especially in its south-east, the most lowland parts. Unlikethe peaty-podzolic soils they have more thick peat layer (at least 50 cm). Bogs origin, where peat soils are formed, may be twofold due to the lakes overgrowing or swamp formation. In the first case it is observed the formation of thick peat bogs, in the second - low-thickness peat bogs, typically less than 1 meter. With swamp formation peatbogs can be formed not only on the flared-out areas, but also on gentle slopes. Unlike podzolic mineral soils, peat soils almost entirely consist of organic matter - the remains of peat-forming plants.

Peat soils of the Khibiny

In the north-eastern part of the region, near the Barents sea coast, you can observe so-called hummocky peatbogs characterized by the presence ofpermafrost layer - ice nucleus in the centre of the peat hillock at a certain depth, that (guarded by the peat layer) does not melt all year round. Other types of peatbogs as the mineral soils do not freeze.

In northern regions there are a lot of water-logged areas. In intermountain lowlands there are peat bogs. They occupy large spaces as in the south-east region, so in other parts significant water-logged areas are found. These bogs are represented by wet peatbogs with different peat thickness. It may vary in large intervals ranging from a few centimeters to tens of meters. Although, in general, the Kola Peninsula is characterized by low-thickness peat deposits. It’s connected with relatively young territory's age that had become free of glaciers about ten thousand years ago - a short period in terms of geology. It is insufficient for the accumulation of organic peat-forming fragments of plants.

Peat bogs have a very important environmental role - accumulation and regulation of the water regime of the area. Marshes, gradually giving the excess moisture back, replenish groundwater and surface rivers and streams. It regulates the precipitation flow in different years.

Almost everywhere, various natural zones of the Kola Peninsula are presented by podzolic and peat types of soils. The remaining minor parts of the territory occupied by other types of soils.

According to the composition of plants, forming peat, peatbogs are divided into high-moor and valley peat soils. The first type consists mainly of the sphagnum mosses. It’s characterized by high moisture and a low degree of decomposition. The herbaceous and woody plant remains, green moss present the second type. Soils of lowland bogs are the most suitable for agricultural use.

Peat soils can be recultivated only after their drainage. For this purpose on the melioration massif people build the melioration system, consisting of small moisture eliminators located at a distance of 15-30 m from each other, and large main canals through which water is running into the receiving waters (river or lake). Sometimes, they lay down underground drains from pottery pipes or other materials instead of open moisture eliminators. The drainage network should work and run excess water properly. Otherwise, it turns into the other bog formation.

Peat soils are the most fertile in the Murmansk region. They contain a lot of nutrients, especially nitrogen. Nevertheless, these soils also need fertilizers, because the plants cannot make full use of contained in the soil nutrients in adverse climate conditions. People should add fertilizers in peat soils quite carefully, because running waters in case of ingress of fertilizers can pollute ponds.

The soil cover in the north is quite weak. It is easily destroyed in the process of road construction, pipelines and various constructions building, other human interventions in nature. It’s recovering extremely slow - it’s necessary the centuries to form a fertile soil. A person has to care about the soils rehabilitation where they have been destroyed. For this purpose there is such technique as soil restoration - the artificial forming of the soil cover in the place of previous natural analogue.

Soil restoration methods are different and they depend on the nature of the disfigurement of a landscape and the physical-geographical conditions. The most acceptable way to restore soil in the north is the covering of disfigured areas by a layer of peat with the following perennial grasses crop, that contribute to the formation of fertile soil.

Another cause of the soil cover destruction is the improper use of pasture resources. For example, near the Kuzomen village (Tersky region) felling of pine forests and uncontrolled grazing on coastal meadows led to a complete soil cover disfiguring on a large territory; as a result bald sands intensively began to dispel and cover the surrounding territory - the locality and water mouth of the Varzuga river. Nowadays there are great efforts to restore the soil and vegetation cover in this area.

The big danger for soil cover is presented by the industrial emissions. Particularly hard the landscape and soils are destroyed in the territories adjoining to major metallurgical complexes. Here heavy metals and harmful gases, highly polluting the soil and destroying the vegetation, lead to the degradation and destruction of the soil cover.

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