Peat as a growing medium has been sold in garden centres and used in glasshouses since the 1960s. It has the ability to improve soil structure and retain water while allowing air circulation. The extraction of peat for compost in horticulture has led to the degradation of peatlands which are vital carbon stores. If the UK is to reach net zero in the horticulture sector, the industry must move to peat free products.
Alternatives to peat do exist but supplies are either expensive or not available in enough quantities. For some applications, peat can be replaced with a single sustainable growing medium. However, a blend of raw materials is often necessary to meet production cost and product quality criteria.
ADAS Horticulture is the only laboratory offering a growing media analysis and design service. Our goal is to speed up the development of new, reliable, and high performing peat alternative growing media.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about our services.
A combination of materials can be used to replace peat in growing media blends. Understanding how the properties of these new materials can best match crop needs is critical to finding suitable replacements.
We asses three physical properties as indicators of growing media performance:
Using our model and our reference library of materials, we can accurately assess new materials and design substrates that will provide a rooting environment similar to peat.
Please note, we need a minimum of 10 litres of each material for testing.
Alongside physical properties, we work with trusted testing laboratories to analyse:
Other lab tests are available on request.
Most prototype blends will flow through potting machines and tray fillers, but some set ups need a slower flow. We are able to test the suitability of new materials to mechanisation.
Some sectors need peat based growing media to form free-standing blocks for propagation. Let us know if you require this as part of testing.
As experts in on-site large-scale commercial trials, we are able to host multi-option irrigation and nutrient delivery system trials. These can be modified to accommodate any plant type, from bedding through to young trees.
Fine-tuning growing media mixes to work with a certain growing system type (e.g. drip, overhead sprinkler, subsurface irrigation, CRF / liquid feeding nutrition, etc.) may require live crop testing.
These are small scale, controlled experiments with a test species of your choice or with species recommended by us to reflect the desired end use of your product.
Take your trial blend to the next level and scale up to test in a commercial setting. Trial details tailored to suit your requirements and budget.