Teagasc Nursery Stock E-Bulletin 2 – 2020

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An important and positive plant health policy has been introduced in the last month. All oak imported into Ireland regardless of size will need to be notified to the Department of Agriculture. This system could help to quickly trace any outbreaks of Oak Processinary Moth (OPM) if they do occur. This system has been set up in the UK and served very useful last summer, where a large number of newly imported stock infested with OPM were traced and dealt with. Speaking with some inspectors it was noted that all imports would not be inspected by default, but only those deemed high risk. See further details below.

The IHNSA trolley was held in Kelly’s Nursery this week and looked to go very well with good attendance and many growers happy with orders. Rentes Nursery fair was held in mid-February and had a lot of great stock on display. Recyclable pots were seen at both events with many growers promoting their offering of Polypropylene (PP) pots and Polyethylene (PET) packs as the more desirable pots for recycling. The traditional black, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) is being phased out by multiples. Members of the Irish Waste Management Association have said that if growers can “stay away from black we are more likely to be able to sort them for recycling. There are stable outlets for both PP and HDPE”

The weather is obviously a cause of frustration and is impacting on garden centers sales, thankfully landscaping sales are holding up better. The bare root season will come to an end shortly and overall looks to be somewhat down on last year. Demand will ramp up quickly once the weather improves a little. Nature usually balances things out eventually, fingers crossed a decent spell of weather isn’t far away.

Some familiar faces at the IHNSA Trolley fair held at Kellys Nursery February 25th.

Pest, disease and plant protection product updates.

Keep up-to-date with the latest pesticides new by visiting the Teagasc pesticide blog. You can see the latest Teagasc Pest updates here.

Oak Import Notification 
The Department of Agriculture continues to make efforts to protect Ireland from invasive pests of oak. The Department has communicated to growers a new statutory requirement for all imports of oak plants or trees to be notified to The Department. This system is also in place in the UK, which is the only other EU country free of Oak Processionary Moth.
Anyone importing the plants should notify the department by email plantandpests@agriculture.gov.ie at least two days in advance of import with the following information:

  1. the intended date of their landing into the State;
  2. the intended destination;
  3. the genus, species and quantity;
  4. the identification number of the supplier of the plants;
  5. the country from which they have been consigned.

See link to trader notice here.
Note also, oak imports over 6-8 size must also be accompanied by a plant passport.

Growing media – peat concerns

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are at present reviewing submissions to the consultation on peat use in horticulture. In the meantime, the current commercial harvesting of peat is in question due to legal action. Friends of the Irish Environment are bringing a Judicial Review to the High Court against the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for accepting an application for the industrial extraction of peat.

A recent AHDB event in the UK looked at peat-free growing media options and reviewed some of the research they have been carrying out. The UK government plans to eliminate the use of peat in commercial horticulture in line with their published white paper. The deadline has slipped but the goal is still the same.

AHDB trials on ranges of reduced or peat-free media have run for 3 plus years. Behaviour of the growing materials was modelled using AFP and bulk density. A range of successful growing media was developed composed of: bark, coir, wood fibre, compost and green waste and was presented by Dr. Andrew Watson. These products were tested in commercial nurseries growing perennials, herbs, bedding, woody plants and some soft fruit. There are peat-free solutions for all sectors except; propagation, casing and blocking.

Plant response illustrated, where, 3 components of growing media used: bark, wood fibre and coir. Green and yellow colour identify the mixes with the best growth. Work developed by Andrew Watson et al 2019. Developing a methodology to replace peat in UK horticulture with responsibly sourced alternative raw materials.

At the same event, Cecilia Lutegebrune from Growing Media Europe reported that new EU fertiliser regulations will deliver a CE standard mark. This will result in EU standardisation for all fertilisers and growing media by July 2022. Uniform standards will be of benefit to trade as currently there is a wide range of bilateral agreements between EU countries using a range of standards. Lutegebrune also noted that continental growers may not move to fill the demand for peat-free products in the UK as a ready market for the existing growing media is available in eastern Europe and Russia. The scale of the EU market has meant that CE standards, in general, have been adopted outside the EU and its likely these growing media standards will also become widely adopted.

The Sustainable growing media calculator Is a useful XL tool developed by the UK Growing Media Association. It is used to rate how sustainable a media is under headings including: energy use, water use, renewability, social compliance, etc. It is planned that it will be used to develop a scheme to rate growing media and will display the results on the packaging; possibly as traffic light score or energy efficiency style score as seen on white goods.

Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) Information Seminar

Teagasc and SEAI will host two seminars looking at SSRH and the horticulture and agriculture sector.
The seminars will cover the principles of biomass heating systems.
Aspects considered will include:
• Interpretation of eligibility rules for biomass boilers
• Biomass resources and sustainability criteria
• System quality and performance
• How the reduction in the farm’s carbon footprint could be of advantage in the market place
• Consideration of payback on the investment

Seminar speakers include:
• Ray Langton SSRH Program Manager at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)
• Tom Houlihan Teagasc Forestry Specialist
• Mark Hanly Greengrove Wood Energy (Woodchip Suppliers)
• Barry Caslin Energy and Rural Development Specialist, Teagasc
• Conor Casey Towards Zero Carbon
• Pat Smith Local Power
• Robert Goss Solar Electric Ireland

Click here for the brochure and booking.