Event to shed light on EU peat policies

Conference aims to put UK peat position in international context and seek views from key amateur gardening bodies.

A conference that pledges to put Government plans to eliminate peat use by professional growers and amateurs in the context of European and international policy on peat, will take place next month.

Leading horticultural research body Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) will host the Can Quality Plants Be Grown Without Peat? conference, which kicks-off with talks by Dutch grower representatives and international growing media bodies.

The second half of the event will provide a platform for representatives of the UK's keenest amateur gardeners to air their views, with presentations from the National Chrysanthemum Society, the National Vegetable Society and the National Streptocarpus Society.

Conference organiser and STC chairman Graham Ward said he hoped the event would bring the industry up to date with the peat situation internationally and in the EU, so "people are aware of different policies around the world" and help to "put the Defra position on England in some sort of perspective".

Referring to the involvement of amateur gardeners, he said the aim was "to engage with our customers and fellow users".

"We know from studies in amateur gardening magazines that variability in the quality of growing media is immense," said Ward. "In our experience of growing with children, if you have failures, they get put off immediately."

The final leg of the conference, which will also feature growing media trials and reports on them, will tackle the challenges of propagation of food crops from seedling to field establishment and the related issue of food security.

Ward explained: "Modular growing is the basis of how growers of food crops get continuity of supply."

The International Peat Society will also support and speak at the event.

The conference takes place on 4 October at the Michael Holmes Conference Centre, STC, Selby, North Yorkshire, YO8 3TZ.

Peatlands International Figures

Peatlands cover an area of four-million square kilometres across 180 countries - three per cent of the planet's land surface.

Most of the global peatlands (3.4 million square km) are still in a near natural condition, are valuable habitats for wildlife and biodiversity and many are managed as nature reserves.

Peatlands are used for:

- Agriculture (300,000sq km)

- Forestry (150,000sq km)

- Growing-media production (2,000sq km)

- Energy generation (2,000sq km), mostly in the northern hemisphere.

Around 120,000sq km have been drained in tropical regions for a variety of purposes, but especially for plantations of oil palm and paper pulp trees.

Source: IPS.

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