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How willow could become a home-grown substitute for peat compost

Trials from a Westmeath company suggest willow compost could help fill the void when peat reserves run out – and provide an income for willow farmers left high and dry when the biofuel market collapsed. But it is not a silver bullet, the horticulture sector has been warned

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Solution: Kevin Mahon of Westmeath-based Klasmann-Deilmann with willow following the harvesting process. Photos: Brian Farrell

Solution: Kevin Mahon of Westmeath-based Klasmann-Deilmann with willow following the harvesting process. Photos: Brian Farrell

Kevin among one of the crops of willow

Kevin among one of the crops of willow

Loading willow into a hopper to start the mixing process and produce compost.

Loading willow into a hopper to start the mixing process and produce compost.

Bags of compressed compost ready for transportation

Bags of compressed compost ready for transportation

Kevin at the Westmeath plant with bays of woodchip

Kevin at the Westmeath plant with bays of woodchip

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Solution: Kevin Mahon of Westmeath-based Klasmann-Deilmann with willow following the harvesting process. Photos: Brian Farrell

A Westmeath company may be on the verge of simultaneously solving two of the biggest riddles facing Irish farming: what is the horticultural sector going to do when the reserves of peat run out, and can the farmers who decided to grow willow get a sustainable return on their product?

Rathowen company Klasmann-Deilmann are composting their first trial batch of willow canes, in the hope that they may provide a home-grown substitute for peat.


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