Quality control of growing media for retail markets

D. Ní Chualáin , C. Hynes, S. Lombard, N. McDaniel, B. Carlile, R. O'Haire, O. Doyle
Retail (hobby) markets for growing media have expanded in the last half-century and now take up about half or more of media usage in several European countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom (U.K.), France and Spain. Media for hobby gardeners are marketed through stores of multiple retailers or large garden centres: in both cases growing media may be stored, often in exposed conditions, for several months or even in some cases, years. In terms of plant growth, performance of retail products has often been variable, as identified within the independent surveys of growing media conducted, for example, in the U.K. by the Consumers Association and reported to their subscribers through the publication 'Gardening Which'. In the U.K., growing media for the retail market should be peat-free by 2020, and quality control procedures have needed to encompass the plethora of materials now being incorporated as replacements for peat. This has led to adoption of materials such as coir, wood fibre, composted green materials, composted bark and other novel constituents as peat diluents, sometimes with varying quality and storage properties when compared to peat. A range of physical, chemical and microbiological assay procedures are used in Ireland to evaluate growing media for retail markets in the U.K., and their adoption within quality control protocols for growing media destined for retail markets in the U.K. is outlined.
Ní Chualáin , D., Hynes, C., Lombard, S., McDaniel, N., Carlile, B., O'Haire, R. and Doyle, O. (2017). Quality control of growing media for retail markets. Acta Hortic. 1168, 287-294
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1168.37
peat, coir, composting, wood fibre, composted bark, multiple retailers

Acta Horticulturae