Update on Growing Media

BPOA Technical Committee:- Update on Growing media – Neil Bragg

As some of you will be aware I have since Feb become the Chair of the Growing Media Association, (GMA) which is under the umbrella of the HTA. 

Targets

In recent meetings with Defra they have made it quite clear that targets set in 2011 for horticultural peat use reduction and replacement in England still exist and unless there is a clear indication that the industry has moved towards the targets and at least tried to achieve the end results more draconian measures are being suggested by ministers and MP’s. One of the latter cannot see why we do not just all move production entirely into coir. Note the RHS are dropping all peat products from the end of 2019.

The biggest problem is that we (GMA and industry in general) have not communicated what we have been doing, what the barriers are and what might realistically be achieved, by say 2025.  We the industry may feel we have achieved a level of understanding of the issues, but obviously this has not really been seen or heard of by others. Despite AHDB reviews around ‘Growing Media’.

As a result- the GMA has taken up the services of ‘Newington Communications’ who already act for the HTA and also some of the GMA members.  The aim is to produce a roadmap by Sept of this year to present to ministers in Defra.  A draft of the report will be circulated for BPOA members as I think you may need this to answer some of the questions you may be asked.

Responsibly sourced growing media calculator

Note the ‘P4’ calculator for responsibly sourced components included in growing media has been ‘road-tested’ by BM-trada, an independent auditing group and subject to refinement will be launched this autumn. I have made the point that we do not want further audit schemes and as there is an existing GM section of BOPP then this should be where the P4 work sits along with P7-the evidence of performance standards being met by new material mixes.

Finally note that the existing Defra LINK project with AHDB and ADAS (CP138) on modelling and prediction of the behaviour of new and novel materials finishes at the end of 2019. The modelling work does now look very interesting and should lead to a useful tool for the industry to use.

Neil Bragg

10th June 2019

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