The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has appointed a peat-free postdoctoral fellow to help the horticultural trade transition to sustainable growing media.
A £1million, co-funded, five-year project led by the charity will convene government, growers and growing media manufacturers through the Growing Media Association and horticultural product supplier Fargro to research sustainable alternatives to peat in large-scale commercial settings.
Five growers initially will work alongside Dr Raghavendra Prasad who has joined the RHS’ 120-strong Science team at RHS Hilltop: Home of Gardening Science this month. They are: Allensmore, Hills Plants, Johnsons of Whixley, The Farplants Group and Vitacress who collectively produce more than 46 million plants every year.
Areas of focus for the group will include peat free plant and plug plant production, new growing media technologies to replace the estimated 1.7m m3 of peat used by the UK horticultural industry in 2021, growing protocols, best practice use of the latest products, and developing peat-free solutions for challenging plant groups such as carnivorous and ericaceous species.
Findings will also be shared ongoing with the wider industry, including specialist nurseries, as well as the UK’s 30 million home and community gardeners who, armed with a better understanding of sustainable alternatives and best practice advice, can aid the transition to peat-free.
The RHS has committed to being entirely peat free by 2025, having banned the sale of peat containing growing media in 2018.
Dr Gracie Barrett, one of Walberton Nursery’s Technical Managers is representing The Farplants Group on the newly formed research project: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the horticulture industry to work together to address some of the challenges arising as we move forward into peat-free growing. This collaboration brings together a wealth of technical experience and knowledge from across the whole industry. It is also an ideal forum from which to communicate with gardeners and help them achieve the best possible outcomes in their own gardens.”
For more information on growing in your garden peat free visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/peat
See the full RHS press release here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/press/releases/New-%C2%A31million-RHS-research-project