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Biodiversity, Sustainability and the Environment

Being aware of our surroundings...

It is in our DNA at Palmstead to care about nature and the environment; everything that we do has an impact on the world and future generations.

Since there is no single way to assess our environmental impact, we have already implemented new ways of working and are committed to becoming more sustainable. Our company signed up to Planet Mark (a business certification recognising continuous improvement) in 2022 and we intend to further reduce our carbon footprint in the future.

Let us share what we have already accomplished, and what we are focusing on next...

Water

It has always been Palmstead's goal not to use any mains water for irrigation. Our goal is to store and recycle enough water to be self-sufficient.

What we have done

  • Over 60% of the site's surface water is currently captured and recycled, and over 80% of our beds now recycle run-off irrigation water back into the reservoirs. We have also installed more efficient rainwater capture solutions throughout the site;
  • Additional lagoons have been constructed to better buffer surface water, reducing run-off into the surrounding area;
  • A third reservoir has been built, increasing our water holding capacity to 75 million litres, enabling us to be self-sufficient on irrigation, even during prolonged dry periods;
  • With the help of our growing media supplier, we've developed mixes that retain water better, as well as using bark topper to keep the media moist.

What we are doing now

  • As part of our ongoing work to capture rain and surface water, we ensure that capture facilities are installed in all new developments and existing ones are updated;
  • It is important to us that we use the water we have efficiently, so we are researching ways to improve our irrigation system.
Energy and carbon footprint

Energy efficiency is always on our minds, and we are researching more sustainable ways to power our nursery.

What we have done

  • Using only electricity companies supplying 100% green and sustainable energy;
  • The PV solar panels on the roof of our main office and dispatch shed generate power for us with any surplus is fed back into the grid;
  • Installation of a powerPerfector voltage power optimizer that cuts energy consumption, reducing costs and emissions, and protecting equipment from the effects of excessive voltage;
  • Almost all areas and offices at the nursery are lit by LED lighting, reducing energy consumption. In addition, timers and sensors have been installed to ensure that lights are not left on unnecessarily;
  • The Company has invested in three new Euro 6 compliant lorries that are used for deliveries;
  • Wherever possible we use the electrical option for our equipment (hedge trimmers, buggies, etc.).

What we are doing now

  • As part of Planet Mark, we've established a baseline measurement of our carbon footprint, and we're developing a plan to reduce it further each year;
  • Rather than using conventional heating methods for our production and offices, we will investigate the possibility of using heat pumps;
  • As a way to encourage more electric car use, we plan to install charging points for staff and visitors.
Waste

In order to reduce the amount of waste we produce, we are working with our suppliers to ensure that everything we use is recyclable or made from recycled materials.

What we have done

  • No waste is going to landfill because we recycle all our cardboard and plastics on site, and our general waste is recycled for energy recovery;
  • In 2021, we stopped purchasing black pots and now pot all our products in 100% recyclable grey pots made from 100% recycled materials;
  • All single-use plastic cups have been removed from our staff facilities and staff are encouraged to bring their own bottles and cups to work;
  • The Company has installed a plastic compactor that allows us to crush plastics, supplier packaging, etc. that are collected regularly and recycled or repurposed;
  • We ship all of our products on either a returnable trolley or in a recyclable container;
  • It has been agreed with suppliers that all plastic crates, trays, etc. can be returned to them for reuse.

What we are doing now

  • In order to maintain our no landfill policy, we are looking into ways to reduce our single-use packaging further;
  • Our business is streamlining processes in order to become more digital and to reduce paper usage.
Biodiversity

Throughout our 52 hectare site, we strive to minimize our impact on the environment including local wildlife, and to create an environment where animals and plants can flourish.

What we have done

  • Established a collaboration with a local beekeeping charity who are storing a number of their hives on our site;
  • In order to ensure the welfare of our local wildlife, we have installed numerous owl and bat boxes in our perimeter trees and hedging, as well as creating habitats on our reservoir banks;
  • We have several composting heaps which are used to replenish our fields used for tree production;
  • We carefully select the plants we sell and participate in the Plant Passport scheme to ensure all our plants are healthy and traceable. As part of our commitment to biosecurity, we take steps to minimize the risk of introducing plant diseases by only sourcing from safe regions;
  • Pest and disease control is primarily handled using biological methods throughout our nursery, and we have added biological CRFs to our propagation growing media and container production.

What we are doing now

  • We are sowing wildflower seeds from a local supplier of pollinator-friendly wildflowers on the banks of our reservoirs;
  • As part of our efforts to reduce chemical dependence, we are working with our suppliers to increase our use of biological control methods for pests and diseases;
  • We are increasing our own propagation, reducing our reliance on imported products.
Peat

Our growing media partners and ourselves are very conscious of the environmental impact of using peat based products and have been working together on reducing and eventually eliminating the use of peat in our business.

What we have done

  • We have reduced our peat usage in our container production by 35% over the last 3 years;
  • Together with our partners, we have been developing a peat-free solution which is currently being tested on site for propagation as well as container production on a large scale;
  • A large part of our herbaceous production has been potted in to peat-free growing media in 2022;
  • As part of the move to peat-free, we are trialling a number of solutions to ensure we won't have to increase our water, feed, or chemical usage.

What we are doing now

  • The results of our collaboration and trials on small container sizes are guiding the development of a peat-free mix for large container production. We aim to be peat-free in all our smaller containers by 2024 and larger containers by 2025;
  • If successful, we will switch to a preformed, peat-free propagation solution currently being trialled by our supplier;
  • We are working with our growing media partners to minimize and eventually eliminate the use of coir in our mixes.
Where next?

As a member of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), Palmstead Nurseries Ltd supports the industry’s targets and is committed to working towards and beyond the published targets.

This means that by 2025 we commit to a minimum of:

  • A net reduction of 20% in scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions
  • 80% of water used on site is from non-mains and reused water sources
  • The sourcing of a minimum of 40% of plant pots and packaging from recycled plastic
  • Accelerated peat reduction in the growing media of the plants we sell

  2022 2023 2024 2025
Water
  • Finished building and filling 3rd reservoir;
  • Updated capacity for capturing and recycling surface water.
  • Increase our capacity to capture more surface water;
  • Update existing lagoons to ensure more water is captured;
  • Looking into ways of making irrigation more efficient.
  • Increase our capacity to capture more surface water;
  • Looking into ways to make our irrigation system more efficient.
  • Increase our capacity to capture more surface water.
Energy and carbon footprint
  • Invested in 3 new Euro 6 compliant lorries;
  • Signed up to Planet Mark, developing plans to reduce our carbon footprint every year.
  • Install electric charging points for staff and visitors to encourage use of electric cars;
  • Explore possibility of using heat pumps instead of conventional methods for heating;
  • Reduce carbon footprint by 5%.
  • Reduce carbon footprint by a further 5%.
  • Reduce carbon footprint by a further 5%.
Waste
  • Using a plastic compactor to crush our plastic for recycling;
  • Stopped purchasing black pots.
  • Phase out black plastic pots on site;
  • Reduce single-use plastics;
  • Reduce amount of paper used in on site processes.
  • Reduce single-use plastics:
  • Reduce amount of paper used in on-site processes.
  • Reduce single-use plastics.
Biodiversity
  • Sowing wildflower seeds on reservoir banks;
  • Apply for plant healthy certificate.
  • Increase use of biological control methods to control pest and disease;
  • Increase own production.
  • Increase use of biological control methods to control pest and disease;
  • Increase own production.
  • Increase own production.
Peat
  • Trial on preformed peat-free propagation trays;
  • Extensive large-scale trial on peat free 2 litre container production.
  • Trials of peat-free growing media for larger pot sizes;
  • Extensive trial on peat-free propagation methods;
  • Exploring ways to eliminate coir from our growing media.
  • Pot all 2 and 3 litre container production in peat-free growing media;
  • Exploring ways to eliminate coir from our growing media.
  • Use peat-free growing media for all containers produced on site.