The Peat-Free Movement: An Interview with Double H Technical Manager, Mark Riley - The Horti House

The Peat-Free Movement: An Interview with Double H Technical Manager, Mark Riley

The shift towards peat-free media in horticulture marks a significant move towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly growing practices.

Growers are increasingly embracing alternative, renewable substrates, driven by a commitment to biodiversity, soil health and mitigating climate change. 

We sat down with Mark Riley the Technical Manager at Double H Nurseries, one of our British growing partners and wanted to share further insights with you on this industry wide shift.

Read on for valuable insights from an industry expert navigating the challenges of the peat-free movement.

 Why is the industry moving away from peat? 
“There is concern about the negative environmental impact of releasing CO2 from peat when it is extracted from peat-bogs. These peat-lands are distinct ecosystems that support diversity, acting as carbon sinks, meaning that harvesting peat results in the release of substantial store carbon dioxide.”

What are the legal timeframes for moving away from peat? 
“UK legislation is not finalised but the assumption is that it will be illegal to sell pot plants grown in peat based compost from January 2027, whilst bagged peat composts for consumers will be banned by the end of 2024.”

What are the growing challenges that come with peat-free media? 
“Whilst peat is chemically and physically very stable and consistent, non-peat alternatives have so far been less stable and more inconsistent. Although this causes some challenges, due to the number of growing trials required to establish the quality of plants we strive for, we are seeing improvements in the peat-free alternatives.” 

What is your peat-free media made from? 
“The main bulk materials include wood fibre, coir and bark.”

How long have Double H been preparing to go peat-free?
“Here at Double H, we have been steadily reducing the % of peat in our substrates for the last 20 years and so the final transition to peat-free has not been a sudden change.”

Our interview with Mark, highlights the industry’s dedication to sustainability and the force behind the peat-free movement, emphasising the shift towards a greener future for horticulture.

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