For the April edition (2013) of the magazine Öko-Test there was a study done where the consumer magazine tested potting soil which had been labeled “peat-free” by their manufacturers. The result: manufacturers don’t really take the term “peat-free” very seriously. In all tested soil brands, there were traces of peat.
While harvesting peat, bogs are destroyed – but bogs are particularly important for climate protection. They can hold at least twice as much CO2 as all the world’s forests together. Therefore, the Federation for Environment and Nature Conservation in Germany (BUND) appeals to consumers, in terms of environmental protection, to refrain from potting soil that contains peat.
No potting soil is completely “peat-free”
It is, therefore, important that when shopping at the garden center, it can be seen whether a soil is peat-free. A recent analysis from the consumer magazine Öko-Test shows that while nine out of ten of the examined soil brands can, by law, be labelled “peat-free”, in a laboratory, substantial amounts of peat can still be found. The other contained small amounts, which is due to a contamination by the mixing equipment.
No traceable control
Öko-Test criticizes that manufacturers’ work is very nontransparent: No one could provide a test report on whether and how it is checked that in products declared as “peat-free soil”, there is actually no peat. When asked where the peat from the products containing it came from, there was s also no clear answer. “Here, a little more transparency would be desirable”, criticized the consumer magazine.
Questionable laboratory results when investigated potting
The laboratory analysis also revealed that cadmium was in three potting soils, in significant quantities. This heavy metal can be absorbed by plants. In another potting soil, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were found. Some compounds belonging to this group of substances are carcinogenic. Another criticism: Although all providers have the content of soluble nutrients, salinity and pH declared on the packaging, the laboratories couldn’t not always detect those same values.
The detailed test with all results can be found here.
Basically, finished fertilizer is not only expensive. The risk to contaminate the soil and the plants with poor products is very large. Only your own composting gives you the security that you aren’t filling your plants with pollutants. If you add self-produced compost to your vegetable or fruit crops, you can harvest these in absolute organic quality and free from contaminants.
This could also interest you: