In the first edition of Dr. James Beard's Turf Management For Golf Courses, a publication of the USGA, he gave a ranking of peat to be used for rootzone modification. Sphagnum moss peat was the least preferred.
Why is sphagnum rated so low?
1. Poor degree of decomposition: 60 to 1 or greater Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio. Why is c:n ratio so important? Anything 25 to 1 or greater is a nutrient user. A material in the range of 25:1 to 80:1 is very hungry to break down. Superintendents with a new grow-in think they have take-all patch or other root diseases but really the culprit is the hot sphagnum causing nutrient deficiency and a week root system.
2. Poor pH: Sphagnum materials have pH ranges from 3.5 to 4.5. This pH range is over 100 times more acidic than the preferred range for proper nutrient uptake and healthy biological response. One must also realize the effectiveness of another neutralizing amendment only fools the test from the lab. The plant know the parent material is not right and suffer from low nutrient exchange capabilities and poor buffering capacities.
3. Poor Water Relationship: Even though sphagnum can hold a good amount of water, it also gives it up very quickly. Sphagnum will give up it's water at least 5 times faster than DAKOTA. Under high stress conditions sphagnum will not have any available water to help the plant. DAKOTA will have available water under high stress.
Once Sphagnum is dried out it adds to your thatch problem by becoming hydrophobic, floating and layering, shutting down infiltration rates, and help cause localized dry spot issues.
So before you get talked into using a sphagnum product ask yourself, shouldn't I be enhancing my new rootzone in stead of negatively affecting it?
Using DAKOTA will assure you are enhancing your rootzone.