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Defra/HDC/horticultural industry funded programme of work to progress the transition to responsibly sourced growing media use within UK horticulture - SP1215

This project will provide a mechanism for the UK Horticulture industry to ease the transition from a dependence on peat to the acceptance and uptake of a broad range of proprietary responsibly sourced growing media. The project will provide a science based quantitative tool for growing media formulation which will increase the confidence of commercial growers in and promote the transition to responsibly sourced growing media. This project advocates a move away from iterative stand alone ‘look-see’ trials towards an innovative predictive ‘unifying multivariate model’ which will target desirable blends at least financial cost. To validate the model, large-scale on site grower demonstration and R&D trials will be utilised for data gathering; importantly the experimental work and the application of the model will be used to promote the benefits to the industry of developing, cost effective and optimal performing raw material combinations. The project will enable an exciting and structured flow of knowledge between the strategic and applied research communities and the industry. Whilst the project is 5 years in duration, the lasting legacy of the work will be a process of progressive innovative refinement of responsibly sourced growing media blends, over a 20 year timeframe and beyond.

A technical monograph has been published which provides a laboratory manual for the techniques developed to generate growing media physical attributes for this project and can be freely accessed and downloaded at:
1. Determine the specific needs of each horticultural sector in terms of growing media requirements and match these against suitable raw materials and blends using appropriate methodology
2. Identify and address, where practicable, any issues which may impact now and in the short to medium-term, on the suitability of the media in terms of availability, consistency, price, practical use on nurseries / farms and direct impact on production.
3. Examine the impact of the medium used throughout the whole supply chain (both retail and amenity) including, but not limited to shelf-life and establishment after planting.
4. Formulate a programme of work via engagement with growers, growing media manufacturers (GMM) and retailers to demonstrate the attributes of the media and to determine how they are best managed commercially.
5. Communicate any outcomes and conclusions to industry in a clear and concise way throughout the project via nursery / farm demonstrations, technical events, suitable publications, electronic media and other events as appropriate.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2019

Cost: £500,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
A H D B (AHDB) - (Horticulture). Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
Climate Change              
Natural Resource Use