Peat-free and humic acid-based - gardening and landscaping rethought
Whether for hobby gardeners or professionals - peat is still popular as a soil improver but peat is a finite raw material and not as good for most plants as assumed. Meaningful alternatives for consumers and professional businesses already exist. Now it's time to use them – for the good of the plants, the environment and the bottom-line.
Up to 90 percent of potting soil in Germany consists of peat and rightly so, as many find that peat provides a loose, well-ventilated soil, stores many times its own weight in water and is virtually germ-free. According to Spektrum, up to eight million cubic meters of peat are spread every year in Germany. Three million of these are distributed by hobby gardeners on their beds alone.
Acidic and low in nutrients - the sense and nonsense of peaty soil in hobby gardens
Is peat really the right choice when it comes to improving soils? It is well worth taking a closer look at the water retention properties of peat. Peat stores a lot of water. Once it has dried out, however, it loses its ability to absorb water almost completely. In addition, peat acidifies the native soil and must be neutralized after being spread. The addition of nutrients in the form of fertilizers is also essential when peat is used. Peat soil, for example, makes little sense in the hobby gardening sector.
Climate killer peat depletion – the end of one of the earth's most important carbon reservoirs
The use of peat must also be fundamentally reconsidered for reasons of climate protection. Peat is mined in bogs, which are drained to extract it. Peat bogs currently cover about three percent of the global land surface and store twice as much carbon in the peat layers as all the world's forests combined. As Nabu explains, the peat body is aerated by the drainage of the moors. As a result, the previously bound carbon oxidizes and escapes as climate-damaging CO2. More than 40 million tons of CO2 are released every year.
The damage therefore occurs on several levels: Carbon stores necessary for climate stability are destroyed and CO2 is released. In addition, peat extraction irretrievably destroys the habitat of many endangered animal and plant species. It is estimated that the world's peat reserves will last another 50 years.
Regardless of the reasons, a rethinking and a renunciation of peat use are unavoidable.
Humic acids as a real alternative to peat - sustainable and CO2-neutral
Especially for professional gardening and landscaping, however, there are hardly any other possibilities. Hardly means only one: Humic acids are a reasonable and sustainable alternative.
Humic acids are soil conditioners with a long-term effect. They have a structure-improvement effect on nutrient-poor soils that lasts up to five years. The particular benefit of humic acids lies in their high cation exchange capacity and their exceptional ability to store water. In addition, they dissolve phosphates bound to calcium, iron, magnesium and aluminum and make them available to the plants.
In fact, more and more public clients are relying on humic acid-based products to improve soils and prepare new plantings. The ability of humic acids to break down salts and thus improve the water supply to plants is of inestimable value, especially in urban areas with many salt carriers. According to Jürgen Jochum from GaLaBau in Uexheim-Leudersdorf, humic acids enable trees in urban areas to better penetrate the root zone and be more vigorous. This can be observed in better leaf coloration and healthier shoots. According to Jochum, the failure rate for plantations with Perlhumus® is close to zero.
Humic acids are therefore a real alternative to peat. They reduce the need for fertilizers and restore soil fertility. In this way they boost plant growth and have a high potential of binding CO2. This saves money and preserves the environment.
This was such a great article! Thank you so much for the tips. I am the owner of a landscaping company in Perth, OH and will definitely put these to use.