PARTNERPORTRAIT RICOTER – Soil makes all the difference

25. April 2016

Gardens, balconies or interiors - Plants lend their surroundings a pleasant atmosphere. In addition to proper irrigation, the right soil is essential for healthy plant growth. RICOTER Erdaufbereitung Ltd. from Aarberg has been producing high-quality plant soil since 1981. RICOTER attaches great importance to efficient product cycles using local raw materials and high environmental friendliness. CEO Ulrich Otto Rooms explains the ‘roots’ of the company’s success, its focus on peat and it sustainability philosophy.

PARTNERPORTRAIT RICOTER – Soil makes all the difference

RICOTER CEO Ulrich Otto Zimmer and RICOTER testimonial Melanie Oesch

Mr Zimmer, according to your website you started the research and development in 1977, but did not establish RICOTER until four years later. What was your specific approach?

The basic idea behind RICOTER was “recycling rather than disposal”. At the time, this way of thinking was very progressive and rather unusual. Agricultural and forestry by-products were not recycled back then, but were simply dumped. With growing environmental awareness, the idea of recycling was taken up by hobby and professional gardeners and the mainly peat-reduced products were gradually able to gain market shares.

You advertise that you produce soil with a little peat as possible. Why?

Peat has properties that are excellent for plant growth and using lime and fertiliser can be adjusted optimally to the plants’ needs. However, the use of peak has major ecological disadvantages. In short “avoiding the use of peat means moorland protection and moorland protection means climate protection”. When peat is extracted, the land must first be drained. Once the water - a preservative medium – is drained from the moors, the peat decomposes and carbon stored over the space of centuries or millennia is released in the form of CO2. In addition, peat products involve long transport routes. By buying the now completely peat-free RICOTER soil, all users of potting soil can contribute to climate protection.

In 2010, you had myclimate calculate the carbon footprint of your soils. Your products were subsequently awarded the climatop label. Did the findings meet your expectations or did they yield new insights?

We commissioned the calculations because we always assumed that our local raw materials have environmental advantages over peat. But we were very surprised by how significant the differences were in relation to CO2. Planting a larger balcony without peat can save the same amount of CO2 as would be produced by travelling 1,000 km by car.

Although the planting season is already well underway, do you have any expert tips for home gardeners?

Potted plants, vegetables and herbs can be planted throughout the entire growing season. Especially for large pots, we always recommend drainage using expanded clay or some other permeable mineral materials. This allows excess water to drain away from the soil and the plant has enough air in the rhizosphere to ensure healthy growth.

About RICOTER and the calculations

Even plant soil has an effect on the climate. Emissions are produced during the extraction of the raw material, the production of the final product, its transportation, use and even disposal. The climate impact from balcony soil was compared by myclimate for the first time in 2010. The results clearly showed that the peat-free RICOTER soil had a climate impact that was more than three times lower than comparable products containing peat. Consequently, no fewer than seven RICOTER products were awarded the climatop label for particularly climate-friendly products.

Click here to find out how the myclimate rooftop paradise was created in May 2016 using RICOTER soil.

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