Peat and peat alternatives
Peat is a major constituent of most horticultural growing media. It is well suited to a wide range of plant species and growing regimes, and is used particularly in the production of ornamental plants, such as container grown nursery stock and bedding plants, and strawberries.
It has been estimated that the horticulture industry accounts for about one-third (much of it imported) of all the peat used as growing medium in this country, with the remaining two-thirds used almost entirely by amateur gardeners. However, recent figures suggest that the overall volume of peat used by the commercial sector in England and Wales has fallen by some 10% (see ADAS Report below).
Under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Lowland Raised Bog Habitat), the Government is committed to undertake and promote research and development into sustainable alternatives to peat and provide advice on the development and marketing of peat alternatives. The aim of the Plan is for 40% of the total market requirements to be peat free by 2005 and 90% by 2010. The Plan can be viewed from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) web site. See also the UK Biodiversity Action Plan pages of Defra's web site.
The Department has funded a number of ADAS run seminars since 1997 to increase awareness of and to examine the potential for using reduced-peat and peat free alternatives, and to encourage commercial growers and others to take them up where they are already available.
In 2005 Defra launched the Horticultural Growing Media Forum (HGMF) as a practical measure to give the peat use debate fresh impetus. The HGMF first met on 31 October 2005 with representatives from different groups: growers, researchers, retailers, nature conservationists and growing media companies.
A recent report (45kb) compiled by ADAS for Defra, "Peat and Peat Alternatives: their use in commercial horticulture in England and Wales in 2003" has been published.
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Page last modified:
23 April 2007
Page published: 10 March 2005