The UK Government recently announced it would be banning the sale of peat in the UK from 2024. Why? You may ask. In short, peat is not sustainable, and most of it comes from bogs, fens, and marshlands which has a massive negative impact on the biodiversity within these eco-systems. The UK Government has pledged to restore 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025, and this equates to around 1% of the U.K's total, a small portion but a step in the right direction nonetheless. Peatlands have reached a critical point of degradation as they are now releasing CO2, which adds to the climate crisis. Here are a few more reasons why Peatlands are so important.
- Peatlands store 3x as much carbon as forests
- They boost bio-diversity
- They can impact flooding in areas by reducing it by up to 25%
- Globally, Peatlands store half a trillion tonnes of carbon, twice as much as the world's forests.
Why do we use peat?
In truth, I have always wondered why we use peat so much. It's not particularly rich in nutrients, it does retain moisture and air well and is generally disease-free, but this doesn't warrant the negative impacts it's having on our eco-systems. Like most produce, the reason usually boils down to low cost, and we can "mine" it quickly.
What can I use instead?
We have several alternatives at our disposal, and if you're an outdoor grower, the impact will be far less than if you rely on pots and containers. Peat is good at retaining moisture, so if you do fall into the pot and container grower like me, it could be worth looking at irrigation solutions to compensate for the removal of peat (check out our online store). An irrigation solution will help keep your plants hydrated with minimal effort, and is considered environmentally friendly too as it is super efficient with the delivery of water, minimising waste.
Other alternatives include coco fibre, a 100% natural solution that helps increase porosity of the potting mixture. It helps keep the soil loose and airy which in turn helps promote better root growth. Made using coconuts, a renewable resource, it is a far more reliable and sustainable solution compared to peat. It is completely inert of nutrients so you will have to provide your own and you will also need to adjust the PH of the water. To learn more about using coco fibre as a peat alternative, head over to cocoandcoir.com for more info.
Peat-free compost and various blends of compost containing bark and wood can be used other than peat. If you wanted to go all out, you could even create your own living soil mix (That's a whole blog post in itself). The latter would be my personal preference as I love the science of nature, however, this method definitely wouldn’t be suitable for everyone. It’s a technique I’ve never used so I’m eager to get hands on with this and see the results for myself.
We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Get in touch if you need any advice.