Veolia, the waste management and recycling company, have kindly given us several tons of their Pro Gro compost. This can be used for ‘growing-on’ seedlings, is an effective peat substitute that retains water in our sandy soil and adds a bit of nutrition, too. It is made in bulk just across in Hampshire and delivered ready-matured either by the lorry load or in plastic bags.
Here is Veolia’s latest press release about Pro Gro:
THE PATH TO A PEAT-FREE FUTURE
The UK currently uses 3 million cubic metres of peat per annum for horticulture. 69% is used by amateur gardeners and 30% by professional growers. Peat is effectively a non-renewable resource, so its extraction is unsustainable, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and damages rare habitats and archaeology.
Peat is regarded as the cheapest and best growing medium and in some cases it is not commercially viable to go completely peat-free. Crops can take up to 40% longer to grow in the peat-free alternatives, which results in an increased environmental impact in energy and space to grow the same number of plants.
The peat alternatives are regarded as expensive and ultimately a slower growing medium. Coir, for example, can be imported from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mexico and the Caribbean. The transport involved is not regarded as sustainable and growers are questioning the comparative carbon footprints of peat against the alternatives.
A partnership has been developed between Veolia Environmental Services and Freeland at the waste management company’s largest open windrow composting site, Little Bushywarren Copse in Hampshire. The 75,000 tonne annual capacity of the site processes green garden waste from the county’s households as part of Project Integra waste management partnership. Veolia have produced Pro-Grow™ for over 10 years, a peat-free compost which boasts Soil Association accreditation and has been used in a number of high-profile projects.
Freeland have developed a proprietary treatment process that takes the ‘oversize’, made up of the woody fraction of garden waste and captures impurities such as stones, metal and plastics. The process removes the contaminants along with salts from the woody material, and the remaining fraction is then processed into a lightweight, environmentally-friendly growing medium.
This new process has the capability to provide the horticultural industry with a genuine peat alternative and at the same time significantly reduce the horticulture industry’s carbon footprint.