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Field Lab: Woodchip Compost

Category: News
26 March 2014

Finding alternatives to peat for growing media


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

The Soil Association field lab (funded under the Duchy Original Food & Farming programme) was set-up to explore the use of compost, and in particular woodchip compost, as a component in peat-free propagation materials in horticulture and evaluate its performance with regards to other materials. It was facilitated by ORC and held at Tolhurst Organic Produce, near Pangbourne.

It arose out of the increasing frustration of organic growers with the availability, quality and reliability of peat-free growing media. Many growers want to move away from the use of imported coir as a peat substitute to using more locally available resources with a lower carbon footprint. Iain Tolhurst has been experimenting with composting woodchip on his holding for a few years and with using it in his growing media.

The trial will compare it to Klasmann (the standard commercial product for plant raising in horticulture, used here as control), and a commercially available Biochar mixture for propagation purposes. In all variations, the same transplant crops will be raised: sprouts, leeks and celeriac. The performance of the cops will be assessed throughout the entire growing period; including growth, health, yield and quality.

The field lab was followed by a 2-3 hour workshop in the afternoon led by Iain Tolhurst, who gave an introduction to the production of compost.

For the follow-up event click here

See flyer here

Keywords: woodchip compost growing media substrate peat

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