April 25, 2011

Poll: UK Gardeners Support Peat Alternatives

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds polled 27 influential gardeners, broadcasters and writers in the United Kingdom about whether they use peat in their gardens. According to The Yorkshire Post, 80 percent of those polled use little or no peat in their garden and two-thirds agree with the UK government’s goal of phasing out peat products. UK conservationists say extracting peat for use in gardens, much of which comes from Ireland and the Baltic, leads to carbon dioxide emissions and damages natural habitats and wildlife. Learn more about peat’s sustainability in Greenhouse Grower’s 2010 Peat Report.

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March 30, 2011

Jiffy’s Special Blend

Jiffy is introducing its new Jiffy-Mix for growers at this week’s California Spring Trials. Jiffy-Mix is unique in that Jiffy is sourcing peat moss from both Canada and Europe, blending it at a Macon, Ga., facility and distributing it throughout the United States to growers. In all, there are seven standard mixes plus a seedling mix under the Jiffy-Mix label. This particular mix is special, Jiffy’s John Bonin says, because European peat is cut in blocks, whose long fibers improve air-to-water ratios and reduce the need for perlite and other amendments. Jiffy also has the ability to make custom blends with Jiffy-Mix. Tref, which is now part of the Jiffy group, has developed more than 1,000 custom mixes for growers in Europe. Tref’s technologies are now available to Jiffy. Another Jiffy development is its retail concept called Plant In A Jiffy, which we first saw at last year’s Spring Trials. The […]

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February 3, 2011

Notes On Densu Coir

Kimberly Moore, an associate professor in the Environmental Horticulture Department at the University of Florida, has spent parts of the last four years evaluating a product called Densu Coir, an organic and soiless substrate that’s produced from coconut husks. Moore shares her observations of Densu Coir and a summary of its performance in her research below: Densu Coir Summary In each case, we grew the plants in 100 percent Densu coir. The peat-based substrates were blends of approximately 60 to 80 percent Sphagnum peat with perlite, vermiculite, etc. All comparisons were unbiased experiments. Results presented do not constitute an endorsement of this product. 2009/2010 Densu coir was one of three substrates used to grow Jatopha curcas, a potential biofuel crop. Jatropha plants grown in containers with coir were comparable to growth in containers with peat-based substrate. This study is being published in HortTechnology this year. October 2008 Densu coir was […]

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February 1, 2011

Berger Shaped By Consistent Quality, Responsible Peatland Management

John Allen, the U.S. national sales manager for Berger Peat Moss, has been with the company since it first achieved an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard in 1994. And in Allen’s years with Berger, he’s realized one certainty about ISO. “ISO hasn’t gotten us the customer, it keeps the customer with us,” he says. Last November, Berger culminated the pursuit of yet another standard – VeriFlora’s standard for responsible peatland management – making the company the only North American peat producer whose product meets standards for both ISO and Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which administers the peatland-specific VeriFlora certification program. The driving forces of the two standards are, of course, different. ISO focuses on product quality while VeriFlora is more about environmental management. But both standards have helped Berger focus its business on meeting the needs of its grower customers and the environment. Maximizing Quality With ISO Berger’s original […]

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January 20, 2011

Sun Gro Sold To Roofing Company

Peat producer Sun Gro Horticulture has entered into a support agreement with IKO Enterprises, a privately held Canadian company that produces and distributes roofing, waterproofing and insulation board products. IKO has agreed to make an offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Sun Gro, other than shares IKO already holds. IKO will acquire Sun Gro for $6.60 per share. Currently, IKO and its affiliates own or control about 19 percent of Sun Gro’s outstanding shares. The transaction is expected to close in March 2011. “We are satisfied that the transaction with IKO results in the best value available to our shareholders,” says Mitch Weaver, president and CEO of Sun Gro and a member of its board of directors. Adds Derek Fee, manager of corporate communications for IKO: “We are very pleased to be increasing our ownership interest in Sun Gro and look forward to building […]

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November 29, 2010

Berger Certified For Responsibly Managed Peatlands

Because quality is of the utmost importance to Berger Peat Moss, the company performs a multitude of tests on its product before taking it to market. Berger Peat Moss has earned VeriFlora’s new certification for responsibly managed peatlands, joining peat producers Fafard et Frères and Premier Tech Horticulture, both of which earned certification last week. “Berger Peat Moss’s commitment to the standards of the VeriFlora norm is very significant.” says Claudin Berger, CEO. “We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished and we will continue along this path over the long term.” The VeriFlora certification was recently developed in a collaborative effort among members of the scientific community, environmental organizations and government departments related to the peatland sector and the peat industry. VeriFlora-certified businesses are required to comply with specific criteria, and their compliance is validated through external audits completed by an independent third party. Certification takes into account the […]

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October 28, 2010

The Peat Report: Setting The Record Straight

A new website is online at www.tourbehorticole.com/en to provide general information to the public about peat while offering a communications platform to support networking among business members of the Québec Peat Moss Producers Association and the partners of those businesses. The site’s visitors will find information about peat bog ecology, peat moss production, Québec industry management practices, various uses of sphagnum moss, and more. A blog will soon be added for those interested in participating in discussions related to peat production and horticulture. Among the members of the Québec Peat Moss Producers Association are Berger Peat Moss, Fafard, Lambert Peat Moss, Premier Tech Horticulture and Sun Gro Horticulture.

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October 26, 2010

ANLA Grassroots Effort On Biomass Fuels Succeeds

A springtime grassroots initiative sparked by the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) has succeeded in influencing a government ruling on biomass fuel. The federal Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) had been intended to create new alternatives for fuel by encouraging agriculture and forest owners to cultivate biomass crops. However, the program had the unintended consequence of creating a new, more lucrative market for bark via federal subsidies that would have depleted the nursery and landscape industry’s access to the products, which are used in nursery growing, landscaping and retail. Retailers and nursery owners were already seeing the price of bark mulch rise in anticipation of subsidies. The BCAP program states the subsidies would not be eligible for “higher market” products, but never clarified what that would entail. According to ANLA, hundreds of comment letters were generated from concerned growers, landscape professionals and retailers through ANLA’s Lighthouse network during the […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Seeley Attendees Sound Off

Danny Takao OFA President “When my mother started this business in 1960 a 17- x 17-inch flat would weight about 35 pounds because it was mostly native soil, sand and wood products. If the greenhouse industry went back to that type of soil with that kind of weight, we would be set back tremendously. “Think about how much less could be shipped on a truck and how much more it would cost to ship one flat of bedding plants. Think of the claims of injured backs. If your employees had to lift 35 pounds all day, you wouldn’t have any employees. “Our growing technology is based on peat moss as the main ingredient, so we would have to retune all of our pH and fertilizing regimes based on what material would be available in your region of the country.” Rick Brown Riverview Flower Farm “We rely on peat moss and […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Fafard’s Hugh Poole On The Peat Industry

Hugh Poole, director of technical services for Fafard, recently connected with Greenhouse Grower about all things peat moss for the November 2010 Peat Report. GG: Do you believe peat moss is a sustainable resource? HP: The peat moss used in the horticultural industry is sustainable in North America. It is a slowly renewable resource that regenerates itself in nature faster than it is presently being harvested. GG: What does responsible peat harvesting mean? Do you believe your company harvests peat responsibly? HP: Responsible peat harvesting means a sincere respect for this valuable resource, the land and the people. The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) and Canadian provincial authorities have developed a set of common-sense guidelines that the major peat-harvesting companies have pledged to follow. They include: 1) an environmental impact study regarding endangered species and drainage patterns, 2) a survey and audit of the bog to determine harvest potential and limitations, including setting […]

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October 21, 2010

Slideshow: Tour A Restored Peatland

Greenhouse Grower visited the Bois-des-Bel peatland during its visit to Quebec in September. Check out photos of the site and how restored peatlands compare to abandoned ones.

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Suppliers Speak Up

Beyond peat’s basic functions, its role at your greenhouse operation and the fact that it’s sourced from Canada and parts of the United States, how much do you know about the main ingredient in North America’s growing mixes? Are you aware of the criticisms the peat industry has drawn over the last two decades–or, as many peat producers would characterize them, the misconceptions their critics have? According to these companies, the misconceptions are numerous, from the number of acres of Canadian peatlands harvested to the speed at which peat regenerates. But now, the peat industry is beginning to speak up and share its story with those involved in greenhouse floriculture. Peatland restoration, for example, is one industry component that shines a light on the efforts of peat producers. But even some producers admit they haven’t done a good enough job promoting their restoration work. The criticisms, after all, seem to […]

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