Peat or Peat-free: Your choice?

Nothing divides gardeners like peat. Some say it’s essential for sowing seeds and growing plants, others have switched to peat-free and haven’t looked back. Which are you?

Pro-peat campaigners point out that peat is burnt as a fuel in Ireland and claim that there’s plenty of it in some parts of the world. By volume, there are about 4 trillion cubic metres (5.2 trillion cubic yards) of peat in the world, covering a total of around 2% of the global land area (about 3 million square kilometres or 1.2 million square miles), containing about 8 billion terajoules of energy.Over time, the formation of peat is often the first step in the geological formation of other fossil fuels such as coal, particularly low-grade coal such as lignite.

The anti-peat lobby says that peat is a valuable source of carbon and a wildlife habitat.Large areas of organic wetland (peat) soils are currently drained for agriculture, forestry, and peat extraction. This process is taking place all over the world. This not only destroys the habitat of many species but also heavily fuels climate change.

Whether gardeners and farmers like it or not, peat is set to disappear from our composts by 2020, thanks to a government target. That means that alternatives must be found.