Learning Opportunity: How Biochar Could Be a Superior Peat Replacement

Peat moss is popular and effective as a soil additive used in many mixes to promote plant growth. However, it has downsides due to environmental damage caused by its harvesting, which has spurned legislation to limit its sale and use, in addition to a dwindling supply of the product that will likely trigger rising prices. Because of these problems, many horticulturists are currently testing alternatives to peat moss in the hopes of replacing and stabilizing its place in the industry. 

One proposed option is biochar. According to USDA Climate Hubs, biochar is a” stable solid, rich in carbon that is made from organic waste material or biomass that is partially combusted in the presence of limited oxygen.” In recent years, its properties as a soil amendment and container substrate component have been identified as a possible peat replacement. If successful, this would help alleviate the environmental and economic problems that are currently in development because of peat. 

American Floral Endowment’s upcoming webinar on April 23, as part of its Grow Pro series, will give growers further insight into the many capabilities of biochar, far beyond its purpose as a peat replacement. Covered topics during the webinar include: 

  • Overview of biochar as a peat replacement 
  • Biochar’s ability to produce ornamental crops 
  • Biochar’s ability to reduce nutrient leaching 
  • Biochar’s ability to improve plant disease suppression 
  • Future applications of biochar as a container component 

The featured speaker for “Biochar for Container Production” is Dr. Ping Yu, Assistant Professor and Ornamental Extension Specialist at the University of Georgia (UGA). Yu earned her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University where she worked with biochar for greenhouse plant production. Yu currently serves as UGA faculty’s liaison to the Georgia Green Industry Association (GGIA), helping to coordinate the association’s annual tradeshow education sessions.  

You can register for the webinar directly through Zoom, as well as the visiting the Grow Pro Webinar Series page on the American Floral Endowment website, where information on future webinars in the series can be found.

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