Growers urged to respond to Government consultation on peat-replacement targets

Horticulture Development Company (HDC) chairman Neil Bragg has called on growers to send him responses to the Government's consultation on "challenges and opportunities presented to UK horticulture in meeting Government targets for peat replacement".

He told delegates at the Green-Tech conference in Spalding: "The current administration has set high aspiration targets and it is going to need clear thinking from the industry to make some responses."

Bragg said although the industry missed the 90 per cent reduction target for 2010, it spent £500m on reaching 60 per cent reduction.

He said three-million cubic metres of substrates were used in 2010 - the same amount as in 1990 - with two-million cubic metres of it in retail. The Government now expects a two per cent annual growth in retail products because of increased interest in grow your own.

Growing Media Association members spent £100,000 on developing alternatives, added Bragg, rejecting criticism from pressure groups that the industry body had done nothing.

He told the conference that a 2004 Institute of Food Research and HDC project on alternative mixes for hardy nursery stock and herbs would conclude this year and predicted it would find some materials used as additives could give good growth.

Defra cancelled a meeting last week on the consultation into amateur peat reduction because of a lack of people wanting to attend. A meeting about professional use will be held in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, on 9 February.

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