The use of cocopeat is on the rise in urban farming. In this article, we will explore the uses of cocopeat and its diverse applications.
Wondering what the term cocopeat means? Read on to understand more about his incredible product.
Cocopeat – the basic information
Cocopeat is a 100% organic, natural and biodegradable by-product of the coconut industry. It is a nutrient medium used to improve soil and is emerging as a popular alternative growth medium for farmers. Whether it is used alone or in the soil, it can increase water retention, aeration, and provide anti-fungal properties. It keeps roots moist and retains nutrients for a longer period of time. It is also an eco-friendly material since it is renewable and can be easily mixed with soil if needed. Because of its many advantages, cocopeat is becoming increasingly popular in horticulture.
The naturally dried cocopeat can be processed into various products, including coconut peat blocks and coconut peat discs. The pH of cocopeat is 5.2-6.8, making it ideal for alkaline garden soils. Cocopeat can retain moisture and store and release nutrients to plants. In addition, it has excellent oxygenation properties, which are essential for healthy root development. Using cocopeat can significantly improve the cultivation of plants in an indoor or outdoor environment in which soil is not required.
How is cocopeat manufactured?
Coco coir is extracted differently by manufacturers of cocopeat, but it should adhere to a quality control scheme and structure as outlined below.
- Procurement – The process of making cocopeat begins with the procurement of coconut husks grown in freshwater. It takes more than 6 weeks to cure the coconut husks. Then the coconut fibers are separated and sorted so that only the top quality coco pith is used in the manufacturing process
- Aging the coco pith – The cleaned coconut kernels are placed on a clean, weed-free concrete floor for more than 18 months. During this time, the monsoon rains will wash off the excess salt from the coconut kernels, making it pH neutral. At this stage, the coco pith is again rinsed so that the pH and conductivity are brought to the required level
- Screening the coco pith – The quality of coco pith has to be verified before proceeding further. The washed pith is checked for the pH, conductivity and salt content. After it reaches the required conductivity and pH, it is sieved to remove the impurities including fiber chunks. Once the pith reaches the required size, the next step is to reduce the moisture content by drying
- Drying process – The sieved coco pith is placed on the cement floor and dried naturally under the sunlight. When the moisture content is less than 18%, the cocopeat is sent for a final check
- Final check – The cocopeat is tested for any remaining impurities and sieved to remove sand or bigger coco husks. The sieved and dried peat is pressed into 5kg blocks and 650g bricks using hydraulic compression machines. The final coco peat blocks are tested for visual defects before packing
Applications of Cocopeat
Cocopeat is in demand due to its low energy requirement for manufacture, environmental benefits as a soil conditioner, and zero waste production.
- Potting mix – Cocopeat is widely used as a potting mix because of its high water and nutrient holding capacity when compared to other composts. This is one of the most environmentally friendly planting options available in the market. This product reduces the carbon footprint and is also reusable. While using as a potting mix, the cocopeat brick has to be soaked in water for at least one hour. After that, it will expand to seven times its original size. You can then pull it apart and use it as required
- Hydroponics growing media – Cocopeat offers an excellent fungus-free, humid and nutrient-rich environment for plants to grow and is becoming a very popular hydroponics growing medium. It is 100% organic and resistant to microbes and fungus. The high porosity of cocopeat makes it ideal for preserving nutrients and water, thereby allowing roots to penetrate deep and strong
- Worm bedding – Being organic and non-toxic, cocopeat can improve the habitats of the worms. Its light and fluffy texture provides support for worms without restricting their motion unnecessarily. Since cocopeat absorbs moisture, it keeps the environment in the worm bin damp and also reduces the odour of the bin.
- Lawn and golf courses – Construction of golf courses and lawns using coco peat amended sand typically requires less nutrients and maintenance than other golf courses. This method conserves water and minimizes runoff of nutrients. With Coco Peat, irrigation frequency is minimized and soil drainage is improved. Hence, Coco Peat can also help lawn management under hot climates
- Nurseries – Healthy seedlings and saplings bring healthier and higher yields. A number of vegetables are first grown in nurseries to maximize germination and healthy root development, and then transplanted in the field. The chemical and physical properties of the growing medium are the key to the successful growth of the plants. Cocopeat has antifungal and antibacterial properties and support a disease-free environment for germination. In addition, it provides a porous environment that is beneficial for root growth by retaining water, nutrients, and absorbing excess moisture