In Boskoop, Netherlands, Peter van Groningen of Van den Dool Botanic cultivates a variety of ornamental shrubs. His main sales markets are in France and the United Kingdom. Demand for peat-free cultivation is growing from the United Kingdom. “I have several clients who are already asking for it. And if you don’t start on time, then you miss the opportunity.” Van den Dool Botanic is already well into the testing process. So much so that the company already uses 35% or even 50% less peat with several crop groups. But now Van den Dool Botanic is embarking on the most important test of all: 100% peat-free cultivation. The treatment of the crop is the same in the tests. The challenge lies mainly in fertilization and irrigation. “You have to learn to play with it. In some fertilizers, you have to give more or less.” Small differences are currently noticeable: “Fairly even figures are emerging compared to the standard soil. So far, these figures show a surprisingly stable pH and slightly higher EC, because we have adjusted the dosage of the coated fertilizers slightly. The amount of water given is approximately the same. At present, we see little difference here.”
The question is how the rooting will hold up in peat-free potting soil. By highlighting two pots of Convolvulus, it is clear that the root system is the same as that in the standard soil mixture. “At the moment, things are going well, especially with products that don’t stand for long. The only question is how it will hold up in the long term. We are now gaining experience in collaboration with Jiffy on how the crop will overwinter in peat-free soil.” Van Groningen also wonders if a completely peat-free market is feasible, given the growing market and a shortage of raw materials. “That will be a challenge for the suppliers.” Another challenge is the cost calculation of the product. If customers are willing to pay that extra price, then according to Van Groningen, there is potential in peat-free cultivation.
At Van den Dool Botanic, the collaboration with Jiffy marks an exciting venture into sustainable horticulture. By exploring peat-free cultivation methods, they’re pioneering a greener approach to growing ornamental shrubs. With each trial and breakthrough, they’re committed to finding eco-friendly solutions that uphold quality while respecting the environment. Together with Jiffy, they’re shaping a future where beautiful plants flourish.