The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) marked a significant milestone in sustainable horticulture with the launch of the first peat-free workshop, part of the RHS Transition to Peat-Free Fellowship. The workshop, hosted in Hertfordshire on Thursday, 14 September, brought together growers and industry experts to share knowledge and delve into the latest insights and trials on peat-free plant production.
The ‘Practical Management of Peat-Free Growing Media’ workshop highlighted the importance of quality control, monitoring, and actively managing peat-free growing media to obtain the best results. Participants gained valuable insights into various peat-free growing media performances across a range of plant species from the RHS Transition to Peat-Free Fellowship. Additionally, there was an opportunity to understand how fellow growers have approached their own trials while learning how to instigate technical crop monitoring to manage media performance and prevent nutritional deficiencies.
In addition to the insights from the RHS Fellow Dr Raghavendra Prasad, the event featured presentations from Dr Gracie Barrett at The Farplants Group, Dr Neil Bragg of Bulrush, and Andrew Wilson from ICL. The day concluded with a visit to Allensmore Nurseries, giving participants a firsthand look at the RHS trials being staged there, along with the nursery’s own trials and peat-free commercial crops.
Wayne Brough, Technical Horticulture Manager at the HTA, said: "This partnership underscores our joint commitment to sustainability. It's heartening to witness our members actively participating in the RHS Transition to Peat-Free Fellowship's peat-free trials, contributing to a more environmentally conscious future. Our members remain resolute in their mission to reduce professional peat usage, as evidenced by the significant decline recorded in the Growing Media Monitor. In 2022, peat constituted just 24% of the total volume of growing media, compared to 36% in 2021, and this trend continues to decline. Credit goes to the collaborative efforts of UK suppliers, growers, and retailers in embracing peat-free practices. The workshop highlighted that despite many successes, there are still challenges, including the need for more support for businesses to transition.”
Dr Raghavendra Prasad, RHS Peat-Free Fellow, added: “We were delighted to hold the first in what will be a series of workshops, providing growers with the latest information and technical expertise to help their transition to peat-free. The RHS knows that we will only achieve peat-free by working together with the industry(i) and government, sharing knowledge and success stories. We felt it was particularly important to give an insight into peat-free trials being undertaken by the RHS with the partners in the Fellowship and demonstrate the ways horticultural businesses can conduct their own trials in a commercial setting for their plant ranges. Presentations and key messages from the workshop will soon be made available so that all growers can have the chance to learn from this event, and we will be sharing more details of further regional workshops very soon.”
On 20 November, the RHS is holding a ‘Transition to Peat Free and Sustainable Practices’ event at Lindley Hall, Vincent Square, London. The event will bring together experts from industry and the RHS Transition to Peat Free Fellowship to share information and technical support with growers from across all sectors of horticulture. Growers, manufacturers, suppliers and industry experts will be holding technical workshops, and there will be trade stands spanning sustainable horticulture, including growing media, biological controls, sustainable packaging, irrigation, fertilisers and plug plant suppliers. For more information, please get in touch with Nikki Barker at NikkiBarker@rhs.org.uk
(i) Partners in the fellowship are Allensmore Nurseries, Hills Plants, Johnsons of Whixley, The Farplants Group and Vitacress, with more to be announced imminently.