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Extension of the study on life cycle assessments for alternative substrates to peat

At a glance

  • Project leader : Matthias Stucki
  • Project team : Simon Amrein, Alex Mathis, Sarah Wettstein
  • Project budget : CHF 30'959
  • Project status : completed
  • Funding partner : Federal government (Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU)
  • Contact person : Matthias Stucki


The aim of the research study is to extend the study by Eymann et al. (2015) of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) by selected substrate components and substrate mixtures which, based on defined criteria, have a high potential as peat substitutes. Analogous to the 2015 study,
the present research project is intended to provide a picture of the environmental impacts of individual substrates and of substrate mixtures by means of life cycle assessment method, whereby the entire life cycle (raw material extraction, substrate production, transport, use, end-of-life) is to be taken into account. The substrate components and substrate mixtures proposed for balancing are to be evaluated in particular with regard to their crop cultivation properties and medium- to long-term availability for Switzerland. In addition to ecological criteria, the study also considers social criteria, which are assessed qualitatively. Finally, the study should make recommendations for horticulture and landscaping, tree nurseries, authorities, the horticultural retail trade and, in particular, for producers of ornamental plants, perennials and vegetables.

The study extension focuses on the life cycle assessment of the following substrates: biochar from pyrolysis or hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC), Chinese reed, linen and hemp fibres, grain husks, sheep wool and coal compost/black earth.