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Sowing sustainability: British horticulture's peat-free revolution

In the vanguard of horticultural innovation, British growers are increasingly embracing peat-free practices, spurred by environmental concerns and legislative changes.

The industry's pivot away from peat—a non-renewable resource whose extraction contributes to carbon emissions and biodiversity loss—is not just a nod to sustainability but a transformative stride towards ecological responsibility.

The IUCN UK Peatland Programme's Clarion Call

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme's recent addendum serves as a testament to the burgeoning economic sector of peat-free horticulture.

The document, an adjunct to a report first unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow, showcases a series of case studies that underscore the dual benefits of peat-free practices: environmental stewardship and the bolstering of a sustainable horticulture industry.

The addendum echoes the sentiment of Clifton Bain, an adviser for the programme, who remarked on the expanding industry's role in supporting the conservation of precious peatland habitats both within the UK and abroad. The full report can be accessed here.

Fargro's Pioneering Trials

A leading agri-services company, Fargro, has been at the forefront of this transition, conducting extensive trials on peat-free mixes since March 2020. The trials have yielded encouraging outcomes, with some crops displaying enhanced vigour and more robust root systems compared to their peat-grown counterparts.

Fargro's approach is tailored to the unique needs of each crop and nursery infrastructure, ensuring that the transition to peat-free media is both seamless and beneficial. The company's dedication to innovation is evident in their development of sustainable mixes that do not rely on a single ingredient, thereby future-proofing the industry against supply chain volatilities. Insights into Fargro's groundbreaking work can be found here.

AIPH's Sustainable Vision

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) has also been instrumental in steering the conversation towards sustainable growing media. At a panel session during GreenTech RAI Amsterdam, industry experts convened to deliberate on the challenges and future of peat-free growing media.

The discussions, led by figures such as AIPH Secretary General Tim Briercliffe, highlighted the sector's united front in creating a sustainable future for horticulture. The panel underscored the urgency of this transition, with the UK government advancing its ban on commercial peat use in plant production from 2030 to 2026. The details of the AIPH's forward-looking panel can be explored here.

The narrative woven by these case studies is clear: the British horticulture industry is not merely adapting to a peat-free future—it is actively shaping it. Through research, trials, and international collaboration, the sector is sowing the seeds for a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.


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