Horticulture Week Podcast: Soil Association's Ben Raskin on woodchip, agroforestry and going peat-free

Ben Raskin and Matthew Appleby

Ben Raskin, head of horticulture and agroforestry at the Soil Association, explodes a few myths around woodchip on this podcast.

He has been working in horticulture for more than 25 years and has been with the Soil Association since 2006.

He co-chairs the Defra Edibles Horticulture Roundtable, sits on the boards of the Organic Growers Alliance and Community Supported Agriculture Network UK, and on the committee of the Farm Woodland Forum.

His wide-ranging work in varied locations makes his new book The Woodchip Handbook a really useful overview of the possibilities afforded by woodchip. for growers and landscapers at any scale, from farm to garden to greenhouse.

Garden Organic work with grower Iain Tolhurst has shown woodchip can be used for propagation, while work with Bartlett's Dr Glynn Percival has found salicylic acid from willow woodchip can play in preventing tree diseases.

Raskin sees woodchip as gaining in commercial value and becoming a bagged product for sale in garden centres as well as landscape suppliers, at £50-£150 a tonne.

Following Horticulture Week's survey which found 76% want to keep peat, Raskin says (although he voted against) he recognises the industry needs time to find substitutes and that temporary exemptions need to be made and cost implications recognised.

Agroforestry - trees in farming - is another area of expertise that Raskin sees a bright future for with nut trees are a particular area for research.

Podcast presenter: HW editor Matthew Appleby
Producer: HW digital content manager, Christina Taylor

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