The Role of Peat in
Today, peat remains the main constituent for many growing media mixes as no other material combines as many favourable characteristics as this material. It is favoured due to its high water-holding ability and good aeration. As the pH and the nutrient content of peat are low, almost any kind of growing medium can be produced with the addition of liming material and fertilisers. This allows the production of a growing media with the exact pH needed for the relevant plant. In addition, peat is free of human and plant pathogens. Peat is widely available and can fulfil consumer demand. Due to these reasons, peat is recognised as an essential constituent by a wide range of national environmental and organic labels as well as under the EU’s organic farming framework.
The use of peatlands for horticultural peat production represents only a small fraction of the human use of peatlands. In this regard, the International Peat Society estimates that around 14% of peatlands are affected by human use. Only 0.05% of peatlands are used for horticultural peat production.
The industry acknowledges that the concerns around peat stem from allegations against its extraction and after-use of peatlands. However, Growing Media Europe members are aware of the fact that site selection, peat extraction and after-use can be undertaken in a responsible manner. Such responsible sourcing will help to ensure the protection of peatlands designated for conservation as well as provide for rehabilitation and restoration of peatlands that were degraded well before peat extraction by the industry.
Growing Media Europe member companies have committed themselves to responsible peatland management and are supporting the current development of a certification system for responsibly produced peat. Please read more about our work on sustainability here.
Growing Media Europe members agree that, when alternative materials that are economically viable, available and present the same beneficial growing conditions; these can be used to complement the essential role of peat in GM. For more than 30 years the industry has invested in and driven a wide range of research into alternatives on peat and will continue to do so.