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Has anyone used Vitax Irish peat?  I'm wondering what it's like and whether or not it is worth buying.  Seems good value, and locally sourcable (almost everywhere around here seems to sell Westlands, that's if they sell peat in the first place)

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Hurry up everyone. It is rumoured that you won't be able be buy peat from 2020 as a n amateur. It's really about time that growers started using the alternatives before you get caught out.

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I'm planning on trying the mix that Mike King uses on my mature Sarracenia this year, but not for the seedlings and vfts.

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Alexis, is peat being banned or not. I am still none the wiser. Couldn't read the link. you have to sign in or subscribe and I just couldn't be bothered.

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It worked for me the other day but it’s now gone behind a paywall for some reason. Strange.

It basically said that peat free trials weren’t going as successfully as hoped and that Gove was looking at the possibility of taxing it rather than banning it in 2020 at the moment.

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There needs to be some limitations in peat use. There are needs to be a difference between using peat because you have to (ie to grow CPs and other plants that won't grow in other medium) and using it just because you can.

I was in Poundland the other week and in their gardening section, they had some plant plugs, root cutting etc. in small plastic bags full of peat. None of the plants they had there actually needed peat. Strawberries, astilbes etc will grow in normal compost yet they had them in bags of pure peat! The plug plants looked dead, the root cutting were looking a bit better... 

Obviously, there is only a limited supply of peat (and the extraction of it is another issue). The use of it needs to be curbed. Peat should be only used to grow plants that need it. It mustn't be wasted on strawberries and the like. If the government forced nurseries/garden centres to only use peat when needed, the amount of peat used would drop dramatically. The same goes for compost manufacturers, adding peat into multi-purpose composts is a waste. It's the big companies that need to limit their peat use, the hobby gardeners like us only use a fraction of the total amount used every year.

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I did manage to find the article in full for you all to read.

 

Will peat use be taxed or banned?

11 January 2018, by Matthew Appleby, Be the first to comment

The Government has made strong statements on peat reduction in its new 25-year environment plan, published in January.

download-201512111259141421-201801110359
 

After years of Government silence on peat use, Defra secretary of state Michael Gove has decided to make a stance by threatening "further measures" should moves to peat alternatives not accelerate.

A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment states: "In 2011 we introduced a voluntary target for amateur gardeners to phase out the use of peat by 2020 and a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants. If by 2020 we have not seen sufficient movement to peat alternatives, we will look at introducing further measures."

Growing Media Association (GMA) chair Steve Harper says those further measures could be financial penalties or legislation, adding: "There is potential for taxation or an actual ban." He says the industry must now step up and show that with its Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media it can help users differentiate between more and less responsibly sourced material.

"It will enable users of the scheme to source materials more responsibly, which we hope will help to improve the sustainability of this part of their businesses. We're still working with making the Responsible Sourcing Scheme auditable over the next few months."

Defra says it will also continue to jointly fund research with the industry to overcome the barriers to peat replacement in commercial horticulture to report in 2020, and will continue to support the industry as it puts the Responsible Sourcing Scheme into practice.

Harper says: We've raised [£30,000] funds from businesses and organisations [including the HTA, GMA, Defra, Bord na Móna, Erin, Scotts] for it and I still believe once it is up and running ... it is the best way to go forward rather than a ban."

The industry achieved the Government target to reduce the use of growing media and soil improvers by 40% by 2005. But it missed an "unrealistic" target of 90% reduction by 2010 and peat reduction has moved forward slowly in recent years as the topic has become less heated, costs issues have come more into play and green-waste alternatives have come under fire for being unreliable.

In 2010, the GMA said it "welcomes the new proposed Government target for amateur growing-media products to be peat-free by 2020. While a very challenging target, the industry believes, with the right support from Government, it can be achieved." The GMA added that the Government was right to give commercial growers more leeway because of quality and price issues for commercial users "in a highly competitive international market".

The figures show progress slowed after 2010, however. Retail peat use in 2014 was 1,391,865cu m, up from 1,267,522cu m in 2013. Professional peat used was 717,992cu m in 2014, up from 695,239cu m in 2013. Overall retail use rose from 3,592,202cu m to 3,823,439cu m. Overall professional use increased from 1,037,336cu m to 1,101,807cu m. Alternatives use rose too as the market grew.

Slow progress

Friends of the Earth senior nature campaigner Paul de Zylva is critical of the slow progress. "The long-awaited environment plan is full of ambition but short on detail and action," he says.

"Ministers say they recognise the importance of our peatland for wildlife, climate action and holding back flood waters, but they have wasted the past decade hoping the horticultural sector would take voluntary action to end peat use and to give customers proper choice of quality alternatives. Ministers now say they’ll wait another two years before deciding what else to do. That’s more like a plan for inaction."

The 25-year plan has certainly pushed peat back up the agenda. Under the subtitle "Restoring our vulnerable peatlands and ending peat use in horticultural products by 2030", the strategy links peat use with halting degradation of soils, which is another of Gove’s big policy issues.

"Most peat soils support ecosystems that are sensitive to human activities including drainage, grazing, liming and afforestation. This makes them susceptible to degradation if poorly managed." The report says conventional agriculture is wrecking drained peatland soil and "we will develop new sustainable management measures to make sure that the topsoil is retained".

The strategy points out that over the past 200 years 84% of fertile peat topsoil in East Anglia has gone and the rest could erode in 30-60 years, resulting in the loss of "our largest terrestrial carbon store". Organic or peat soils make up 11% of England’s total land area, more than 70% of which are drained or in poor condition. Funding for peatland projects over three years will become available in April 2018, the result of a £10m peatland grant scheme launched in July 2017.

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis Machin says Defra’s peat announcement in the 25-year strategy does not come as a surprise to him, and he too believes the long-awaited Responsible Sourcing Scheme will do enough to prevent Defra’s threatened "further measures".

"Defra said to us late last year that Responsible Sourcing Scheme progress has been good but Michael Gove wants to see progress and changes in use of different materials," he adds. "Once the scheme is up and running, and people make decisions, we will see progress. We hope to introduce it in April/May but we won't see results until the tail end of the year.

"The next step is how we market the idea to consumers. The idea is it will be driven by consumers but there's some work to do there. It took years to raise awareness of biosecurity with ash dieback and there is a similar job with peat and peat production. We don't have many reports of consumers asking about peat. We're talking about labelling. There's going to be some type, whether that is colour codes, a list of ingredients or an A-E — we've not got that far yet."

Bulrush's Neil Bragg says AHDB's growing media review is to be published in February, including a  response to ADAS project CP138 led by Barry Mulholland. A 2015 growing media review by Defra did not happen because the 25 year environment plan was being prepared. Bragg said: "We want to show as an industry how proactive we've been going forward." He said the industry needed to be able to show its proactiveness and seriousness about the issue.

Defra says it will publish an England peat strategy in late 2018.

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They can’t ban the sale of peat while we are in the EU or in a transition period where we obey EU rules.

Edited by manders

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Thanks Alexis, mind you, if they put 100 % tax on peat, it still wouldn't be that expensive.

I was at Garden Directs nursery a few days ago and I bought 12 coir bricks for £24. Coir is still a bit more expensive than peat. It does come down in price the more you buy, and that is with most coir suppliers.

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