TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY IN GROWING MEDIA
Sustainability is commonly defined as the capacity to endure, with the World Summit of 2005 defining it as a reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands: the three pillars of sustainability. In terms of sustainability of growing media, peat has been identified by environmental lobbyists as an unsustainable con-stituent in terms of habitat destruction and potential contribution to climate change. The activities of lobby groups have influenced the U.K. government: indeed a recent White paper issued by the U.K. government proposes phasing out peat in U.K. retail horticultural markets by 2020, and in the professional sector by 2030. Manufacturers and retailers have reacted to the issue of peat use in growing media by developing alternative materials including wood fibre, green compost, composted bark and coir. The consequent rapid use of alternative materials to peat within the U.K., despite innovative research by several manufacturers, has led to media of very variable quality arriving in retail markets, in turn giving rise to concern among many profes-sional horticulturists. This paper examines the rationale behind the proposals that peat is an unsustainable medium, and that other media are more sustainable. Sustain-ability is addressed not only in a narrow environmental sense in terms of climate change and biodiversity, but also from an economic perspective through the ability of growing media providers and manufacturers and their customers to survive and prosper. Finally, the third pillar of sustainability, that of community and social sustainability, in which horticulture plays a prominent part in rural locations, is briefly addressed.
Carlile, B. and Coules, A. (2013). TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY IN GROWING MEDIA. Acta Hortic. 1013, 341-349
peat, peat alternatives, climate change, biodiversity, social responsibility