On 22 November, the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR) organised an online workshop on the topic of reduction of peat use in horticulture. Speakers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, and Norway shared their research and provided insights into the current peat reduction efforts within their respective countries.
Peatlands globally store more carbon dioxide than all the world's forests combined - even though they only make up 3% of the Earth's land area. By draining peatlands, the carbon from the peat (in the form of CO2) is released over time - even quicker when the peat is extracted and used. The use of peat as a substrate in growing media therefore directly contributes to climate change. For this reason, peat-free gardening is a contribution to climate mitigation! The goal is clear, however transforming the whole horticulture system, which is based on peat, is difficult and requires extensive research. Hence, the online workshop focused on the availability and suitability of alternative substrates for peat.
Fostering exchange amongst the scientific community was a key priority of the workshop. Prof. Dr. Gruda from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) stressed that knowledge exchange and international cooperation are fundamentally important to fuel the transition to peat-free growing media in Europe.
Following the presentations, panellists representing research institutes, NGOs and industry shared their insights and experiences in the panel discussion on the topic of “the future of peat-free growing media in Europe”. The panel discussion highlighted the different peat-reduction strategies in Europe. Importantly, Alex Mathis, Zurich University of Applied Sciences illustrated how far Switzerland has already gone with their peat-reduction efforts and called-upon other countries to catch-up. All panellists stressed the importance of educating consumers, producers and gardeners; Calling for a joining of hands of all involved stakeholders.
The presentations and recording of the workshop, which provide an excellent overview of the strategies and challenges in different European countries in regards to peat use reduction, are available here. Further workshops are planned in 2023.
Further information about BMEL funded projects regarding peat reduction and peatland soil protection on the FNR website can be found here.
FNR contact person: Lena Huck