Horticulture Week Podcast: 'Waste not want not' - how British Sugar Topsoil hits the sweet spot between the environment and profit

Matthew Appleby and Andy Spetch
Matthew Appleby and Andy Spetch

This week's podcast was recorded at British Sugar Topsoil's plant at WIssington in Norfolk.

Guest Andy Spetch reveals how the British Sugar brand goes beyond just creating 1.5m tonnes of sweetness a year, to produce power for the National Grid and for glasshouses, fuel (bioethanol), animal feed - and, of particular interest to horticulture, topsoil.

A British Sugar Topsoil veteran, Spetch, who has run the TOPSOIL division for 27 years, explains how the company creates the product from around 250,000-270,000 tonnes annually from soil cleaned of sugar beet roots.

He says: "It would be criminal if it was just dumped, and what would you do with it? So we recycle everything we can. When I started we weren't selling an ounce but it has grown year-on-year. Back then we looked at whether there was a market for topsoil - we didn't know if there was. [Soil scientist] Tim O'Hare helped from the beginning to develop a product for landscaping and sports markets. We were able to grow the market and now everything we get, we sell."

Spetch outlines his biggest markets, products and new analysis of the make-up of the soil including its carbon capturing qualities and soil health among the key areas of interest for now and into the future.

And of course, he tells us what he would pick as his Desert Island Plant. 

Make sure you never miss a Horticulture Week podcast! Subscribe to or Follow Horticulture Week podcasts via Apple PodcastsSpotify or Google Podcasts or your preferred podcast platform. 

If you are interested in producing a podcast with Horticulture Week, contact matthew.appleby@haymarket.com. 

Listener feedback - please email hortweek@haymarket.com with "Podcast" at the beginning of the subject line.


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