With an increasing awareness of environmental sustainability and eco-friendly agriculture methods, most farmers, gardeners, and nurseries are investing in eco-friendly horticulture practices.
The Sri Lankan agriculture sector contributes largely to the local economy. With a thriving coconut-based industry, Sri Lankan is a leader in producing coconut fibre and coco peat-based products for local and global markets.
Coconut fibre is a natural fibre extracted from the husk of the coconut. Due to its high Lignin content, coconut fibre is elastic, durable, and resistant to decay. A coconut husk normally contains 30% fibre and 70% pith. (1) Commonly known as coir, the coconut fibre from Sri Lanka is produced in two forms namely “Brown fibre” and “White fibre”. Brown fibre is extracted from the mature brown coloured coconut husks while white fibre is extracted from the immature green husk. The long and coarse bristle fibres are separated using the traditional “Ceylon Drum Technique” which is a technique unique to Sri Lanka, used to extract the long fibre. (2) Brown coir extracted this way is used to create various eco-friendly products.
Coir twine is a high-quality and versatile product made using coir extracted from the inner husks of coconuts. It has a higher demand from various industries due to its optimum quality and strength. The product is mostly spun by machines and sometimes by hand. It is available in different grades and qualities.
The natural durability of coir twine is one of its star points. Because it does not contain any chemicals that may harm the plants or soil, unlike most other similar products. Therefore, it is mostly used in the sectors of agriculture, horticulture, and aquaculture.
Coir twine can also be composted after use reducing the pile-up of waste. This is not possible with other twines in the market. It has to be noted that the long-lasting capability of the twine can depend on its thickness.
One of the main benefits of the coir product is that it is highly affordable and available. If you are a gardener, consider it a less costly, yet very effective investment.
Fences built using coir twine can be soaked in a solution that helps them to keep pests away from the garden or pen. Its high absorption levels help the solution retain for a long time. Plants tied using coir twine are less likely to be damaged since the fibre collaborates smoothly with the plants while holding on to it.
Deforestation and land degradation has caused great damage to the global economy.
Preventing soil erosion in agriculture and irrigation land is one of the main challenges faced today. Geotextile products provide eco-friendly solutions to soil erosion. They are manufactured using biodegradable coconut fibre, which is recyclable yet durable at the same time.
Geotextiles serve the purpose of preserving the soil quality in agricultural lands. They protect the soil from soil erosion that can occur due to wind, and rain. These products can be used in sensitive natural environments such as river banks, sea banks, mountain slopes, and coastlines. In horticulture, geotextiles can be used to maintain the decorative effect and the service life of the garden paths. It contributes to the rapid outflow of water, preventing the growth of weed and grass.
This coir-based canvas can further be used to construct an embankment to strengthen the surface of the ground. This reinforces the soil and drains it to provide filtration. When managing the growth of ornamental plants, geotextiles can be used to separate the fertile soil from infertile soil. Due to the barrier created by the fabric, the roots will not reach the infertile section. With creative measurements, geotextiles can be used to make a garden more productive and beautiful at the same time.
Another unique product made of coconut fibre, coir pots are silent hard workers in your garden. Made using fibres extracted from the coconut husk, these bio-degradable are considered as an excellent growing medium. These pots have high permeability to water, air, and roots. When the plant starts to spread its roots, the pot breaks down naturally in the soil. This aspect reduces root disturbance. Coir pots can be considered a state-of-the-art solution for gardeners and farmers looking for an excellent root system and re-establishment.
These pots share excellent water holding capacity. They support good drainage and aeration. Coconut coir renews constantly. Therefore, there is a constant supply of coir in the market resulting in these products being available all the time. Given credit to their high penetration ability, the texture of these pots allow roots to breathe. The roots do not experience any form of concussion.
These pots can easily replace petroleum-based plastic nursery pots. Further, they are inspired by the nutritional components of coconut coir. The material is rich in hormones and bio-stimulants that encourage plant growth. This helps gardeners to avoid the use of any fertilizers. Therefore, the use of coir pots can be considered as more of an economic decision.
Mostly used to grow creepers and vine, coir poles can be considered as a growing aid for plants. These poles support plants with more moisture and shape. This eco-friendly coir product makes sure that the attached plant receives the required nutrients since it stays moist for a long time once watered. Sri Lankan manufacturers make these poles by wrapping coir twine to pipes. These pipes can be either wooden pipes or PVC pipes.
The attached plants develop tiny roots to grip the natural organic matter of the coir fibre. As a result, these poles are used widely in plant nurseries and horticulture farms. If the product is not available in the market, it might be available under other names such as Grow pole, Plant pole, or Plant climber stick. The product is highly appreciated for its qualities of high strength, high water retention capacity, and high longevity.
The contribution given by Coir poles towards plant growth does not limit itself to sunlight. Their support can be enjoyed by indoor plants too. Plants with aerial roots such as Philodendrons, Syngonium, and Monsteras can always expect good assistance from coir poles.
Coco peat is an eco-friendly growing medium. It is considered to be the best alternative to potting soil. Similar to all the other coconut coir products, coco peat is also extracted from the coconut husk. It contains natural anti-fungal properties. As a result, it is an excellent choice to start seed. In gardening, coco peat is used for soil amendments. It increases water retention, aeration, and provides anti-fungal benefits when used with soil or even as a sole medium.
Other than its mostly expected properties, coco peat is also resistant to diseases, pests, and weeds. The coir product is widely used in greenhouses, seedling nurseries, worm bedding, and as a growing medium in hydroponics, and as an application in horticulture and floriculture. Coco peat is manufactured in different forms when it is ready for the customers to purchase.
Coco peat is compressed into the shape of blocks, bricks, discs, pellets and chips making them easy to package, market, store and use. Once purchased, these coco peat-based products need to be reconstituted. They need to be soaked and saturated with water by submerging them in a water container. If the products are in the form of blocks or bricks they need to be broken down into parts before soaking and if they are pellets/plugs they can be soaked directly in nursery trays. It has to be allowed to stay in the water until it becomes loose and absorbs the water. Once it is made sure that the coco peat is moistened, it means that it is ready to serve the garden.
Coconut coir products are naturally eco-friendly and 100% biodegradable since they are extracted and processed under traditional methods that do not subject the coconuts or the coconut tree to any harm. Like all other coconut-based products, products made using coconut coir are also infused by the nutritional values of its mother plant.
Therefore, the continuous use of these products in agricultural activities can result in huge benefits and great achievements since coir products are perfect growth mediums for plants helping them to grow faster and stronger. Taking into consideration the contribution these products offer to avoid things such as soil erosion and the use of harmful fertilizers, farmers and gardeners can consider this as their contribution to the fight against environmental pollution.