Based on various materials or blends of materials including coir, wood fiber, and bark, peat-reduced and peat-free products are now available from all the major growing media manufacturers. Trials have shown most of these products can perform as well as peat-based media if they are managed appropriately. Understanding the cultural management requirements of these products is, therefore, key to getting the most from them. These workshops build on the Defra/AHDB/industry-funded five-year project CP138 ‘Transition to responsibly sourced growing media use within UK horticulture’ and form part of the AHDB-funded Bedding and Pot Plant Centre project output. Delivered by ADAS Horticulture and facilitated by the BPOA, they offer practical advice on managing peat alternative products in propagation and pot plant crops.
Introducing the session, Chris Need gave an overview of the current environment in which growers find themselves with regard to the proposed changes in government’s requirements for peatland management and the fundamental change in retailers’ attitude to payment for the increased cost of plants grown in ‘peat-free' growing media. This change in the market together with the manufacturers’ improvements in growing media formulation, now make it possible for growers to plan ahead with confidence, their routes to ‘peat-free plant production.
The meeting last week at Hill’s Plants in Chichester was led by Jill England of ADAS, who has directed the trials and presented a brief review of CP138 and the progress so far. Jill covered the development by ADAS of the tool for making graphical comparisons of the physical characteristics of growing media components.
Here you can find the papers regarding the growing media tool and the ADAS Growing Media Service.