Peat as a growing medium ingredient is becomingly increasingly unacceptable and this has led in recent years to more and more use of peat-free growing media. Melcourt has been at the forefront of this development for over three decades, having never handled or marketed peat and being a specialist in bark and wood-fibre which are two of the principal, viable alternatives to peat.
Although it has been amply demonstrated that peat-free media can perform just as well as their peat-based counterparts, a major barrier to their more widespread uptake is price. Alternatives are generally more expensive and although there can be significant cost savings when using them bringing them closer to price parity, many growers tend to look simply at the unit cost and make direct, often unfavourable comparisons. Change is happening slowly but at Melcourt we are pleased to see that Defra are now consulting on the ‘further measures’ for reducing peat use that were mentioned in the 25 year plan for the environment. And we are pleased to report that for our own peat-free range Sylvamix®, our market share is increasing year on year as our products have gained an excellent reputation for reliability and cost-effectiveness. As a result we are expanding, taking on more staff and looking ahead to further long-term, growth and a sustainable business.
Catherine Dawson, Melcourt®
Image: Bedding Salvias (top) and commercial Hebe (bottom) production in Melcourt Sylvamix® professional peat-free growing medium.