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Where in the World: Peat

Published on February 28th 2018

What is peat?

Peat is a diverse mixture of partially decomposed plant material that has accumulated in a waterlogged environment with an absence of oxygen. The peat that is used in compost takes thousands of years to produce.
Although peat use is on the decline and peat free compost use is increasing, from my numerous years of horticultural experience when growing certain plants from cuttings peat is a strong candidate as it is inert and stable, some alternatives can cause leaching from developing cuttings and cause failure.

The Government is determined to stop amateur gardeners using peat by 2020.

Professional growers will have to stop in 2030, whether they like it or not. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has set up a new Growing Media Panel chaired by Dr Alan Knight, an expert on global sustainable development.
This panel consists of growers of food and ornamentals, retailers, compost manufacturers and non-government organisations such as the RHS (represented by Paul Alexander) and Friends of the Earth. Government funding of £600,000 has been allocated, in partnership with other funders, making a total of £1.1 million.

Peat this is produced in numerous countries, but these are the main harvesting countries:

  • Canada
  • Russia
  • United States
  • Europe including Ireland, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom has 62 million acres

It is estimated that there are at least 1 billion acres of peatland in the world, or about 4.5% of the total land area.

Gardeners use 66 per cent of the total peat consumed in the UK, most of it in growing media such as multi-purpose compost and growing bags. Which translates that in the UK we use 4.2 Billion litres of compost per year and 3 Billion litres is peat based.

Read our Discover series below about peat free compost starting with coir.

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