Horticulture industry comes together for a peat-free future

A new taskforce coordinated by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is focusing on unlocking the complexities of the peat debate. It is encouraging collaboration of the broad range of industry stakeholders to produce a roadmap the removal of peat from growing media.

It aims to reinvigorate efforts to tackle the issue of peat use in horticulture, with representatives from each area of the industry producing a plan by the end of February defining a realistic timetable for achieving a peat-free supply chain and outline the barriers that need to be overcome. This work will help inform Defra’s forthcoming England Peat Strategy.

Leading growers, representatives from retail and landscaping and experts from manufacturing will work alongside stakeholders including the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), National Farmers Union (NFU) and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), to represent each part of the sector and develop relevant actions within this new workplan.

The complex issue of finding suitable alternatives to satisfy the needs of professional growers and hobby gardeners alike has been the focus of efforts by parts of the horticulture sector for many years, with peat-use falling in 2020 to its lowest ever level.

Speaking of his ambitions for the new group, James Barnes, HTA Chairman, said: “The debate around peat use is nuanced and complex and to successfully negotiate a way forward we must take a more strategic approach. By working in a coordinated way with representatives from the whole supply chain we will have an aligned industry approach to peat-use for the first time. By the end of February, we will have a clear action plan, objectives across the board and timescales for when we can realistically expect results.”

The newly formed taskforce sees each part of the industry represented and responsible for tackling the relevant part of the problem. It will focus on key issues including:

  • Tackling obstacles that stand in the way of removing peat from professional growing media – how can plants be produced in less peat-based media
  • How to encourage consumers to adopt peat-free when purchasing either plants or compost products
  • Introducing a responsible sourcing scheme with logos at point of sale to inform customers of product provenance and relative responsibility score
  • Improving the quality and availability of data concerning composition

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