Peat-free growing medium evolves

Decoy Farm, Crowland'Growers feature'Names: supervisor at the farm Steve Harris
Decoy Farm, Crowland'Growers feature'Names: supervisor at the farm Steve Harris
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AN agricultural company in Crowland has been working with the University of Lincoln Riseholme Campus to develop an organic peat-free growing medium for the horticultural industry.

Shaun Dring, manager of Bettaland Products Ltd, expects to release the product to local nurseries once it has been licensed, which it is hoped will happen in September.

The initiative is in response to an environmental drive to phase out and eventually ban the use of peat in horticulture.

Bettalands Products has its own nursery where over 400 different varities of trees and shrubs are grown in the peat-free compost.

Shaun explains: “Part of the trial was to make sure the stock would actually grow into the compost and they are using the mix in the nursery, although they can’t sell it until it is licensed.

“Things are growing very well in it and we are increasing the nursery size all the time – by another 50,000 plants this year.

“It was tried years ago and it didn’t work but what is happening here is unique in the way we separate the mix. Obviously a replacement has to be consistent and that is where our director, Andrew Riddington, realised there was a gap in the market that was going to appear over the next five to ten years.”

The site is also supplying about 90,000 tonnes of organic compost to farmers and growers which is produced by Organic Recycling Ltd, one of the businesses on the same site at Decoy Farm.

Shaun said: “Organic Recycling brings in garden waste, green waste from Lincolnshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, farmers and commercial green waste from around the area and we make that into organic compost.

“It has a massive amount of nutrients in it, but the nutrient level has to be different for horticulture, and that is something we have been working on with Riseholme and hopefully that will be available from September.”