ICL, has secured an agreement with Bord na Móna, which will expand its operations in Ireland and enable the company to supply sustainable growing media to professional ornamental growers and plant propagators across the country.

Under the terms of the agreement, ICL will lease Bord na Móna’s professional growing media mixing facility at Cúil na Móna for an initial period of three years.

The agreement also covers a start-up supply stock of professional horticultural peat, harvested prior to Bord na Móna withdrawing from commercial harvesting.

Under the terms agreed, this product is ringfenced for the Irish market.

Stephen Squires, region business lead at ICL explained the background to this:

“At the beginning of 2021, ICL stepped in to supply our brands of sustainable professional growing media to enable Irish ornamental growers to continue production.

“Our professional horticulture team in Ireland, led by Brendan Howell, is working closely to help growers reduce their reliance on peat and to deliver sustainable growing media solutions for the future, utilising ICL’s new Fibagro Advance woodfibre technology – a unique and superior peat alternative with a lower carbon footprint, compared with peat and other peat alternatives.

“This agreement with Bord na Móna will see ICL expand its sustainable growing-media manufacturing facilities to Ireland, to help to meet the current and future needs of Irish ornamental growers and plant propagators.

“While utilising Bord na Móna’s site and machinery – and helping secure jobs for its workforce – ICL will bring its proven formulas, know-how, and technology advancements in circular-economy growing media products to Ireland,” he said.

The company said it remains at the forefront of exploring sustainable growing media alternatives.

“Following three years of intensive research, we have developed the most technically advanced, professional-grade, wood-fibre product,” Squires said.

This product has very similar water and nutrient holding capacity to the 6-12mm peat fraction, he said.

“With the volume of suitable professional-grade peat alternatives insufficient to meet current UK and Irish demand, ICL recently made significant capital investment in a new UK wood-fibre manufacturing plant – utilising locally sourced materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and plans to further expand the production of its wood-fibre growing media materials for the professional ornamentals market

“The company also continues to make significant investments in research-and-development resources, such as pioneering innovative wetting agents and Osmocote controlled release nutrient technologies, which optimise the performance of sustainable growing media and help growers improve their sustainability for the future.”

Head of land and habitats at Bord na Móna, Ger Breen, said Bord na Móna is a “climate-solutions company” no longer engaged in peat harvesting but keen to enable sustainable solutions in a number of different sectors.

“We are pleased with this agreement with ICL, a global leader in developing impactful solutions for sustainable agriculture, with a strong focus on R&D and technological innovation. We hope its technologies, knowledge and experience will help Irish growers succeed in a sustainable way.

“As part of the government’s working group, we are further committed to finding solutions to the challenges facing the horticultural sector and are delighted to be able to help our former customers through this agreement with ICL.”