Kiwi growers developing local alternatives to peat

Logan Church
Source: 1News

Kiwi growers have had to develop local alternatives to peat, following concerns over its environmental impact and global supply issues.

Peat is an essential part in growing mix due to its ability to hold water and retain nutrients.

However, when harvested, it releases an enormous amount of carbon dioxide.

An estimated 60,000 cubic metres of growing media like compost is used each year in New Zealand's agriculture and horticulture industries, much of which contains peat.

So as countries begin to limit or ban peat harvesting, and Covid and the war in Ukraine continue to cause global supply chain issues, New Zealand growers have had to develop alternatives using materials such as pine trees.

Daltons Landscape Supplies business development manager Scott Bromwich says leftover wood can be made into a fibrous material suitable for plants.

"When you add that to bark, which we also have lots of and already use, you can significantly cut back on the amount of peat needed."

NZ Plant Producers chief executive Matt Dolan says peat will continue to be important for growing mix, but the alternatives are promising.

"If we can replace it with the new technologies to help it with the plant production that's fantastic."