Sebastian Gutierrez-Pacheco
Ph.D. student
Department of Phytology
Laval University

Co-supervised by:

Line Rochefort (Regular member)

Research project description

Development and evaluation of an experimental irrigation monitoring system for sphagnum biomass production

Sphagnum cultivation is the sustainable production of biomass of undecomposed sphagnum fiber on a cyclical and renewable basis. Sphagnum mosses (bryophytes) have a particular chemical composition that allows the formation of peatland ecosystems through the accumulation of organic matter (peat). Sphagnum farming is a new way to use residual peatlands after peat extraction. This technology makes it possible to produce alternative substrates to natural blonde peat used in horticulture (Caron & Rochefort, 2013), thus reducing the impact of peat extraction in new sites while improving the quality of the horticultural substrate. It can also be used for sphagnum supply for the ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems (wetlands) or mining and petroleum sites and as an input for green walls and green roofs. For sphagnum production, water management is one of the most important aspects (Pouliot et al., 2015, Landry et al., 2011, Gaudig et al., 2008). This PhD project aims to develop and evaluate an irrigation management and monitoring system to allow the establishment and cultivation of sphagnum moss in residual peatland ponds in order to achieve the best possible yield. There are two experimental sites, for which information has been recorded concerning the vegetation (biomass production), the environment (precipitation and temperature), and changes in the water status of the peat (fluctuation of the water table).The two sites are at St-Modeste, Quebec (Berger Peat Company) and at Shippagan, New Brunswick. Similarly, the optimization of the electronic irrigation and drainage management system will continue during the three years to control the water level in the sites. Three modules will be used to control and monitor the water status of the basins. The first two, that of catching the water levels in the basins and the one controlling the irrigation and drainage, already exist, but will be improved. The last one will be built during the project to record weather data. The advantage of these systems is that they will operate with solar energy and will be accessible for remote control of irrigation. Finally, all the data and records of the groundwater level in each basin, the amount of rainfall, some physical characteristics of sphagnum peat and residual peat (such as bulk density, hydraulic conductivity, porosity ), the characterization of the terrain (topography, distance between canals and irrigation drains) and the water level in the irrigation canal will be taken into account to model the movement of water in each of the basins. With this model, it will be possible to obtain a relationship between the water conditions of each site and the growth of Sphagnum and therefore to define the conditions of implantation and growth ideal for the culture of these bryophytes on a cyclic basis and renewable.

Scientific Communications

Gutierrez-Pacheco, S., Lagacé, R., Hugron, S., Godbout, S., Rochefort, L., 2021. Estimation of daily water table level with bimonthly measurements in restored ombrotrophic peatland. <strong>Sustainability</strong>, 13(10), 5474. DOI: <a href="" target="_blank">10.3390/su13105474</a>.

Gutierrez-Pacheco, S., Lagacé, R., Guêné-Nanchen, M., Leblanc, M.-C., Rochefort, L., Godbout, S., Fournel, S., 2020. Data science to generate knowledge with practical relevance: A case study in peatland restoration after peat extraction. 26th PERG Symposium & McGill Carbon team Annual Meeting. Montréal, Québec.

Gutierrez-Pacheco, S., Hugron, S., Rochefort, L., Lagacé, R., Godbout, S., 2019. Simulation de l’irrigation superficiel et souterrain pour la culture de sphaigne. Colloque «Le paysage et l'exploitation des ressources naturelles au Québec». Québec, Québec.

Gutierrez-Pacheco, S., Hugron, S., Rochefort, L., Lagacé, R., Godbout, S., 2019. Use of cumulative indicators to estimate biomass accumulation in Sphagnum farms / Utilisation d'indicateurs cumulatifs pour estimer l'accumulation de la biomasse dans les bassins de culture de sphaigne. 25th Symposium of the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG). Québec, Québec.

Gaudig, G., Krebs, M., Prager, A., Wichmann, S., Barney, M., Caporn, S.J.M., Emmel, M., Fritz, C., Graf, M., Grobe, A., Gutierrez-Pacheco, S., Hugron, S., Holzträger, S., Irrgang, S., Kämäräinen, A., Karofeld, E., Koch, G., Koebbing, J.F., Kumar, S., Matchutadze, I., Oberpaur, C., Oestmann, J., Raabe, P., Rammes, D., Rochefort, L., Schmilewksi, G., Sendžikaitė, J., Smolders, A., St-Hilaire, B., van de Riet, B., Wright, B., Wright, N., Zoch, L., Joosten, H., 2018. <em>Sphagnum </em>farming from species selection to the production of growing media: a review. <strong>Mires and Peat</strong>, 20, 13. DOI: <a href="" target="_blank">10.19189/MaP.2018.OMB.340</a>.

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