Gradual transition advised in push for peat alternatives

Wyevale Container Plants director Steve Reed says the transition from peat to peat alternatives should be a gradual process.

He said: "It's taken about five years to get to 40 per cent reduction and be happy with it - above all we need to produce saleable plants to the spec that our customers want.

"In our mix we have reduced peat by 33 per cent using bark and we bought a bark topper this season so we have reduced it by another seven per cent."

On the benefits of using bark in pot plant production, he said: "As a result of using more bark we are using less residual chemicals and in the long run it's saving us money. We are saving ourselves the cost of the chemical application and the labour costs."

He added: "The biggest issue we need to address next season is nutrition, so we are going to adjust our fertiliser mixes. It's all a balance and we are striving to maintain that balance. We pot 1.5 million pots a year and I cannot afford to get all of those wrong."

Financially, the bark topper has paid for itself over the five year period. "Over five years I estimate it's saving us about £5,000 a year on chemical costs and on labour to apply the chemicals," explained Reed. "In terms of water savings, we don't save that much money because we don't use mains water."

Commenting on the recent RSPB proposals for an environmental peat tax, he said: "We growers are all saying that 70 per cent of the peat is used by the domestic people, so deal with the bigger target before you visit us on it."


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