The announcement of over £600k of new government research funding to overcome the growing media challenges faced by commercial growers is good news for the industry but part of a confusing message, the NFU said today.
The comments come following the publication of Defra’s response to recommendations from the Sustainable Growing Media Task Force. Defra believes all growing media materials should be assessed using the same criteria but falls short of actually fully adopting that very proposal.
“While we welcome that government has accepted in principle that the agenda needs to be widened out and focus on the sustainability of all growing media materials, and not just peat, it is a little disappointing that it is not yet willing to fully embrace this new approach.
"Government is saying that before adopting this approach into policy it needs the definition of what makes a growing media sustainable to be developed and agreed,” said NFU horticultural adviser Dr Chris Hartfield.
“The result is that this response, while supporting the sustainable growing media approach on the one hand, continues with ‘peat reduction’ language that relates to existing government policies – which will make this broadly positive response fairly confusing for many.
"The government has committed to a peat policy review in 2015, but until then it looks like it will continue to juggle with talking about both support for a sustainable approach covering all growing media materials, and support for efforts to specifically reduce peat use.
“We need to take a bit of time now to discuss this response with members and other stakeholders before feeding-back our detailed thoughts.”
The report, ‘Government Response to the Sustainable Growing Media Task Force’, was published today. Funds are boosted to £1.1million via partners.