Thirty tree and plant growers from across the UK came together at the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) Nursery Network Peat-Free event this week to exchange views, experience, and knowledge on growing peat-free. The event was hosted by Hillier Nurseries in Romsey near Southampton and included a tour of their mature tree and container crop production sites.
Guests also heard several presentations, including:
- The politics of peat-free - David Lydiat of the HTA
- The manufacturer’s lot - Keith Nicholson of Sinclair/Westland
- Transition to peat-free at Hillier Nurseries - Charles Carr, Hillier Nurseries
- Supporting the peat-free transition - Dr. Raghavendra Prasad and Prof Alistair Griffiths.
The event was organized by Wayne Brough of the HTA, who explained it was immediately oversubscribed by those from across the industry who wanted to join the session showing the HTA’s and its members’ commitment to peat-free. However, there are still significant challenges to overcome, meaning that Defra’s proposed deadline for a ban for professional growers in 2026 comes too soon.
Speaker Keith Nicholson revealed that Westland had invested £80m in peat-free infrastructure. He commented: “It’s all about time. The industry is working hard to go peat-free and needs to work with the government and the whole supply chain to achieve this. If the government insists on moving too quickly, it could cause serious harm.”
Charles Carr said: “Hillier made the decision to go peat-free in 2020 and has this year achieved this across the board. I was pleased to share some of our experiences with the group. It has been challenging, and 10-20% of crops need extra management and resources. We are still finding unexplained losses.”
Alistair Griffiths stated: “It is positive to see the great progress that Hillier’s have made to get to 100% peat-free and to share expertise to help others on the same journey.”
For more information:
Horticultural Trades Association