Science Into Practice - Lining up peat replacements for the future

Growers are facing increasing environmental, consumer and legislative pressures to avoid using peat. The UK has already used up 94 per cent of its available supplies and Defra recently set out plans to reduce peat use in English horticulture to zero by 2030 as part of the natural environment white paper.

Food processing companies must also reduce waste going to landfill. It may be possible to address both challenges together if the food processing waste can be used to create a high-quality alternative to peat.

Previous HDC work found that composted food chain waste could provide a suitable main constituent of growing media. The aim of HDC project CP 50 (HL 0179), run with the controlled composting bioreactor facility at the Institute of Food Research, was to control the composting of food processing waste materials.

Growing media were produced following a range of commercial trials and considerable developmental work. They were then tested with more than 25 species of nursery plants of various sizes. Some of the growing media produced were successfully used in plant trials at an incorporation rate of 75 per cent with no adverse or only a marginal effect on plant growth.

Currently, the growing media tested are not available to growers, but it is hoped that they can be produced at a similar price to peat. This project developed substrates with the potential to effectively replace a large proportion of peat across a wide variety of plant species.

Date for your diary

Disease Risk Management for 2012

HDC/HTA/BPOA impatiens downy mildew seminar, Stoneleigh Park, 26 October.

Horticultural Development Company

For details on all HDC activity, visit

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