Protecting the future
In recent years, awareness of environmental and sustainability issues has grown, with people and companies everywhere recognising the importance of good environmental management.
A pioneering spirit
Hillier has always been a pioneer within horticulture, pursuing policies that have proved both commercially and environmentally beneficial.
We aim to work innovatively, sustainably and with integrity, to secure our position as an industry leader and a leader of good environmental practice.
One of the company’s most successful projects has been to improve water management.
Since 1994, all collectable ‘run-off’ (rainfall and irrigation) from the 50-acre Hillier Tree Container Nursery has been recycled. A 3.8million gallon reservoir and water filtration system was installed allowing water to be stored and re-used. The scheme won a national water “Waste Watchers” award and has meant that the unit is virtually self-sufficient in terms of water supply.
With millions of plants produced on our nurseries every year, controlling waste in production is vital. Pots used in the production process are recycled as well as other plastic waste. Various biodegradable pots are being trialled with the aim to further reduce the use of plastics. All organic wastes are processed into quality graded soil conditioners.
For Peat’s sake
We actively support research and development investigating alternatives to peat. Reductions in the use of peat as part of a growing media are on-going with commercial trials being carried out on site.
Our containerised tree production is now entirely peat-free.
Chemistry and biology
Hillier has greatly reduced its use of chemicals to control pest and disease by the introduction of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
IPM uses biological control to manage pests, as well as chemicals with low environmental impact that work in harmony with natural predators. We implement a number of biological solutions across our business:
- Grass We use grass to cover unused land. This is routinely cut, limiting the use of herbicides and minimising soil erosion.
- Manure and cover crops On our tree nurseries, artificial fertilisers are reduced through using a natural approach. We spread farmyard manure and use cover crops on fallow land such as grass, clover, mustard and marigolds. The latter has proved to be most beneficial as nematodes, living symbiotically on the roots, avoid the need for chemical soil sterilisation.
- Chemical-free alternatives On our Garden Centres we use every opportunity to promote sustainable gardening by highlighting chemical-free alternatives, reduced and peat-free growing media and the care and encouragement of local wildlife and conservation.
Our commitment to sustainability extends beyond our own operations to include working with suppliers and taking a leading role in industry-wide initiatives.
External recognition for Hillier Sustainable Practice
We have been fortunate enough to have been recognised for our environmental policies with awards from both within and outside of the horticultural industry:
- Waste Watchers Award (for reduction in water use).
- Winner – in Large Business Award category, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainable Business Awards 2004
- Highly Commended Finalist -in South East England Development Agency Sustainable Business Awards 2004
- Sustainability was a main feature in Hillier Nurseries successes during 2005-2006:
- Winner – of Best New Plant Variety (Ulmus ‘New Horizon’ resistant to “Dutch Elm Disease”)
- Winner –of Grower of the Year (Horticulture Week)
- Nursery Stock ‘Grower of the Year’ Award – (Horticultural Trades Association/Grower Magazine)
Making sustainability policy
The Hillier sustainability policy ensures best practice in a number of key areas beyond plants across our company:
- The reduction of electricity and heating fuel consumption
- Stationery recycling
- A green transport policy
- And many other smaller initiatives which continue to gain environmental and commercial benefit.