Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Erosion control products: cost effective alternatives for revegetation

Erosion is any horticulturist’s worst nightmare. From the process of replanting and restoration, to the loss of the most fertile soil, i.e. the topsoil, erosion can have damaging effects on any cultivation. Although erosion is mainly associated with water erosion, wind erosion and tillage are another two forms of erosion.

So what are the signs that can help identify erosion early on? Below are a few of the factors that affect soil erosion;

  • The structure and texture of the soil will determine the erodibility of the soil, i.e. the ability of the soil to resist erosion
  • The intensity and duration of rainfall will affect the rate of erosion
  • A steeper and long slope of a field will increase the chances of erosion
  • The roughness of the soil’s surface will affect the resistance of soil against wind erosion
  • A lack of windbreaks or unsheltered distances will increase abrasion and erosion
  • The speed and depth of tillage, i.e. a deep tillage, will disturb the soil

However, soil erosion can be controlled. Erosion control is the practice of preventing or controlling wind or water erosion in agriculture, land development and construction. For this, many methods have been introduced over the years, such as reforestation, no-till farming, contour ploughing, terracing, and windbreaks, while in the recent past horticulturists and agriculturists have adopted the practice of using man-made erosion control products.

At CoirGreen™, we know the benefit horticulturists, environmental engineers and agriculturists receive when they use erosion control products. As such, in an effort to promote eco-friendly practices in erosion control methods, we produce 100% natural and biodegradable erosion control products which are made out of coir fibers. Erosion control blanket (coco blankets), geotextile (coir netting), coirlog (waterlogs/biologs), coir pallet (coir pillow), and jute geotextile are the green solutions provided by CoirGreen to control soil erosion.

Each of these products assists in reducing soil erosion.

Coir erosion control blanket, also known as coco blankets are laid down on the soil for slope stabilisation, landslide stabilisation and river-bank protection. These dimensionally stable blankets enhance vegetation growth as it allows the root system to establish solid support. Coir erosion control blankets can be easily transported and deployed, and once the biodegradation process starts, the spun and woven coir blanket’s remnants can found in the form of hummus. Another advantage of using coco blankets instead of its synthetic counterpart is that it is naturally capable of retaining the necessary amount of water for the soil. Coco erosion control blanket use extends beyond erosion control, and has been identified for landscaping, vegetation control and sedimentation control.

Geotextiles or coir netting produced using coir fibers have the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect or drain any water to reduce soil erosion reduces, while holding the soil together. It is mainly used for bioengineering and stabilisation of slopes that have low erodibility. Geotextiles permeate the flow of water in and out from it, therefore allowing the necessary amount of water to reach the soil to maintain its fertility. It has been produced to last for 3-5 years, thereafter the degradation process takes place and transforms it into hummus, which enriches the soil, thereby reducing any time and cost that would have been spent for the removal of it. Apart from its use for soil stabilisation, geotextiles are also used for stream/river bank protection, shoreline stabilisation, storm water channels, filtration in road drains and land reclamation, highway cut and filled slopes etc.

Coirlogs (waterlogs/biologs, coco logs) are made out of rolled coir fibers ranging from 7 – 9kg per linear meter whose cylindrical shape is reinforced using coir netting. The diameter of the log ranges from 20cm-50cm with 2 or 4 meter length for the cylindrical logs. The coir logs are generally used for hills, banks, shorelines, and other erosion prone areas, as it is able to control erosion due to its ability to reduce the velocity of water and the movement of sediment. The coir acts as mulch on the surface and as a wick in the soil mantle. When coir logs are placed it protects the plants from being affected by erosion, until they are fully grown and are capable of stabilising the soil through their growth. And once the plants take over the stabilisation, the logs will degrade and enrich the soil as humus as the logs are 100% natural and biodegradable.

Coir pallets are used to establish marginal vegetation around rivers, lakes and canals, especially those that are artificially lined as it can be used as an alternative for hard revetments. The high lignin content of the coir helps the pallets to cope with water that is coming at a high velocity, thereby protecting the vegetation against water erosion. These coir pallets are versatile as they can be used to grow any mix of wetland plants, and also be used to control wind erosion. Coir pallets are also used for mulching, vegetative water channels, and as a natural solution for scour protection.

CoirGreen offers two types of jute products, they are, jute geotextile and hessian. These are ideal to protect the soil from wind erosion. These products stop the top soil from being blown away, however its porous texture enables water to reach the plants that are trying to establish themselves on a steep slope. Hessian is a plain cloth made wholly out of jute with a single wrap and weft interwoven, while jute geo textile is woven using high quality jute.

If you are interested in adopting one of these products to your agricultural activities contact CoirGreen on marketing AT coirgreen DOT com and we can help you to choose the right product and customise it to your needs or offer your own branding for the product range. You can visit www.coirgreen.com for further details or be involved on our social media pages, www.facebook.com/coirgreen or via twitter on www.twitter.com/coirgreen.

Friday, December 18, 2015

As the 21st session of the Conference of Parties

The 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) ended on a positive note as the participating member states agreed on a new climate change agreement.  

The main goal of the Paris conference was to achieve a global agreement to keep global warming below the critical threshold of 2°C of warming. In a significant move, the member states agreed to limit global warming to under 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels

With the planet already warming up at a rapid pace, achieving this goal requires the commitment of both developed and developing countries. Therefore, the Paris discussions also focused closely on national commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. In addition, discussions also focused on the role of larger economies and the developed states in supporting the sustainable development efforts of the poorer and more vulnerable countries.

You can of course learn more about the Paris climate agreement here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35092127

Yet, while world leaders and environmental experts deliberated in Paris, what’s in this conference for you?

The effects of climate change are felt all over the world. Extreme heat wave, droughts and floods continue to impact lives and livelihoods across the world. Rising sea levels are seriously impacting the lives of coastal residents, with the poorest communities expected to be the most hard hit.

As we set to mark the beginning of yet another New Year, why not make a new commitment to do our bit for the planet – to help preserve it not just for us, but also for the future generations?  

Here’s what we plan to do at CoirGreen:

We’ve made a conscious effort to go-green this season.  

We’ve asked our employees to make a ‘green’ wish-list (we’re not asking for much here, this wish-list can include even the simplest, like reusing grocery bags!).

We’ve sticking up ‘green-tips’ across our office space, and once again, they are as simple as ‘switching off lights at the end of the day’.

Next year, we plan to share more information about environment-friendly living through our blog, because we believe that the more we know about how our actions impact the planet, the more we are willing to act!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coir Pots (coco pots): Why move from Plastic Pots?

Coir Pots: Why move from Plastic Pots?
CoirGreen™ Coir Pots or also known as coco pots are a natural, biodegradable alternative for plastic pots. Why are they deemed to be a biodegradable alternative? Well, they are made out of natural coconut fibres which are held together using natural latex. This product has been introduced as part of CoirGreen’s commitment to promote sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices in soil erosion control, horticultural and agricultural industries. The main thought behind this product is to add value to the lives of our customers, and employees.

Why should you switch?
The answer to that is transplantation. Remember that time you had to move a plant from one pot to a larger one, just because there was no space for the roots to grow? This was a meticulous task, wasn’t it? You had to make sure that this space constraint hadn’t caused the roots to spiral, twist or tangle which could stunt the plants’ growth. In addition to this, you had to ensure that the plant and its root will not be damaged during this transplantation, causing a ‘transplantation shock’.

When using coir pots this situation can be avoided as the roots are permitted to grow beyond the coconut fibre wall of the pot. Once the roots have penetrated the pot’s wall, the exposure to air will stop the roots from growing further. However, root buds will start to appear and secondary roots start to develop through the pot, which will reduce any deformity that can occur in the root system. This process known as ‘aerial root pruning’ will avoid the transplantation shock that occurs through the use of plastic pots.

What are the other benefits?
These biodegradable coco pots have a high permeability of water, which assists the plants in their osmosis process. Apart from this, these pots are also able to moderate the level of moisture of the pot and the plant. These qualities make coir pots the ideal choice to grow cucurbits and courgettes as their growth is quite often affected by the lack of water or excess moisture.

Coir pots also increase the microbial activity of the plant due to the lignin content in them. This activity, together with key nutrients like Zinc, Magnesium, Copper, and Iron that are acquired through these pots, will assist the plants’ growth. These coir pots allow even a planting enthusiast with a busy schedule to engage in planting, as constant care is not necessary. Furthermore, the rate of growth of plants in coir pots will be higher than in that made out of plastic. Therefore, the use of fertilizer can be reduced, as it is less likely for harmful weed to grow and hinder the plant.

These environmentally friendly pots remain stable above ground for a year, due to its Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS). Once this period passes, as mentioned earlier, the plant doesn’t have to be uprooted from the pot as the pot biodegrades in the soil after 2-3 months. Therefore, the plant including the degrading pot can be replanted together in a larger pot without any transplantation shock. The pots fibres and nutrients will be added to the soil in which it degrades, therefore adding texture to the soil as they degrade.

If the pot isn’t used in the transplanting process, then they can be used to manufacture compost. The composition of this biodegrading pot when added to the compost pile will act as a valuable source of carbon. This carbon will provide the microorganisms with the required energy break down the organic matter in the compost making process.

Therefore the use of CoirGreen™ Coir Pots can help horticulturists and other users as it avoids the effects of ‘transplantation shock’, allows ‘aerial root pruning’, has a high permeability of water, and nutrients, manages the level of moisture, and has other benefits as it degrades biologically. For more information regarding CoirGreen Coir Pots contact us on marketing@coirgreen.com or visit our website on www.coirgreen.com  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coir - The Ideal Growing Medium for Strawberries

In June 2015, newspapers around Britain were buzzing about an offer from Marks and Spencer which sought to revolutionize gardening and retail shopping. For the first time in history, UK shoppers were given the opportunity to pick their strawberries from the store itself. These strawberries, which are grown in baskets and under LED lights, added a new dimension to the definition of fresh. Significantly, Marks and Spencer chose coconut fibre to grow their prized fruits. This example is one of many where experts have chosen coir as the principle growing medium for strawberries.

Mankind has enjoyed a long and scrumptious love affair with the humble strawberry. For over 2000 years, it has delighted the taste buds of millions of people. Today, it is consumed more than ever before; each year spectators at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament devour 30 tons of strawberries. Nevertheless,  experts have voiced concern regarding the taste of the modern  strawberry. In a BBC article, the famous gardener Mark Diacono says: “New varieties are often developments of older ones and are bred for greater reliability and resistance to disease. Flavour is often lost in that process.” A key reason for experts to use coir in place of other mediums, is to capture the lost taste of this beloved fruit.

Flavour is not the only reason to choose coir. One of the key drawbacks in growing strawberries is its high susceptibility to diseases. Of these, fungal diseases are the most common. However, gardeners who use coir have a special arsenal to fight this disease. Trichoderma is a beneficial fungus which occurs naturally in coconut fibre; amazingly, this fungus works in symbiosis with plant roots and protects them from harmful pathogens such as Pythium and Botrytis.

Fungi in strawberries has grown to become a monumental issue, so much so that large growers have to fumigate their entire crop to safeguard it. Fumigants are inherently dangerous pesticides that are often linked with accidental mass poisonings.  Even when accidents do not occur, fumigant application expose people to unsafe levels of toxic compounds. Recently, the strawberry industry in California made a statement that they are urgently seeking an alternative to fumigation. Coir is a safe and effective solution to this issue.

Another benefit of using coir for growing strawberries is its high lignin content. Lignin works in a similar way to trichoderma; it helps develop a beneficial bacteria which in turn deters the growth of harmful ones. This bacteria remains in a symbiotic relationship with the plant and increases the overall productivity of the strawberry crop.

The International Society for Horticultural Science classifies strawberry as a plant with high oxygen demanding roots; this signifies that there is a definite advantage in growing strawberries in a media with a high aeration ability. Coir is such a media; it is renowned for its high water holding capacity which in turn produces fine roots with more aeration.

CoirGreen™ produces a variety of products which are tailor-made for the strawberry industry. These include Coco Peat, Coco Chips, Growbags and Coir Pots. All these products are 100% biodegradable and are manufactured according to the highest industry standards.

In the words of the Canadian poetess, Kathy Randle, strawberries are like the signs of summer: sweet, soft and juicy. She goes on to say that a plate of strawberries and cream is a delicious mouth watering dream. Use the coir products manufactured by CoirGreen™ and turn this dream into a reality.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Preventing Soil Erosion - Protecting Humanity

When discussing environmental concerns, soil erosion is not the first issue that comes into mind. The world’s media focuses on fossil fuel problems, climate change, biodiversity and forest fires, while soil depletion is less spectacular and is seldom mentioned.  However, societies in the past have even collapsed or disappeared as a result of soil erosion.

For centuries Easter Island was home to a remarkable civilization- the Rapa Nui. The Rapa Nui are renowned for carving giant statues out of volcanic rock. These monuments, known, as "moai" are some of the most incredible ancient relics ever discovered. However, within a few centuries this civilization  was destroyed. Historians say that  ninety per cent of the Rapa Nui died because of deforestation, erosion and soil depletion.

The Rapa Nui were not the only victims of soil erosion. It was also one of the reasons for the demise of the powerful Mayan civilization. In many ways the Mayans were way ahead of western civilization. They maintained accurate calendars, practised advanced astronomy and wrote thousands of books before Europeans. Ironically their prosperity paved the way for their destruction. As their civilization grew, the Mayans cut down the jungle canopy to make room for cities and crops. The resulting soil erosion, along with drought, were the key factors in their downfall.

Humans have been depleting the soil resources of Earth at a steady and alarming rate. Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. The UN estimates that 300 million hectares - an area big enough to feed Europe- has been so severely degraded that it cannot produce food.

The effects of soil erosion are far and widespread. While the loss of fertile land is the primary concern, soil erosion also leads to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers. These sediments clog waterways and cause declines in fish and other species.

Soil erosion can also result in increased flooding. In 2010 and 2011 the Magdalena River in Colombia flooded affecting more than four million Colombians. Researchers found later that the Magdalena is filled with soil sediments and that this was the primary cause of the floods. 

Humanity has to take immediate action against soil erosion. Promoting sustainable agriculture, reducing deforestation and preventing desert expansion are some of the key measures that we should take.

According to the Land and Water magazine,  “Coir is the most versatile natural fiber to combat soil erosion. It is the miracle fiber of this century to save the earth, its waters and wetlands”.

At CoirGreen(tm) we have always been driven to create products that are environmentally sustainable. Since our inception we wanted to be a responsible company and be an example to the wider society. This goal led the way to the creation of many products that actively prevent soil erosion. These include Erosion Control Blankets, Geotextiles, Coir Logs, Coir Pallets, and Jute Products; all which have been proven successful in countering soil erosion.

For more details on how to secure products which prevent soil erosion please visit www.coirgreen.com. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Poor quality soil can lead to harmful impact: Stop erosion now

I kiss the soil as if I placed a kiss on the hands of a mother, for the homeland is our earthly mother” - Pope John Paul II

Soil erosion is known as the wearing away of topsoil, leading to poor quality soil that is less conducive for plant and vegetation growth. In our series of blog posts focusing on erosion control, today we take a look at the harmful effects of soil erosion, and how they cause concerns not only to the environment, but also to human health and the economy as a whole.

Poor Quality Soil

Within any plantation area, the top layer of soil - known as topsoil - contains many of the organic materials and nutrients needed for plant growth. Erosion also leads to increasing the amount of clay present within the soil, leading to a lower level of water available to plants. When the topsoil is lost as a result of erosion, the area loses its most nutrient soil layer, thereby leading to a loss of quality soil. The resulting poor quality soil could lead to smaller yields of crop, and there is even a possibility of seeds and small plants being washed away.

Effects on Water Quality

Eroded soil is known to travel towards water surfaces by means of particles. These particles contain nutrients necessary for plant growth, but these nutrients could have a harmful effect on aquatic ecosystems.

On the other hand, the decreased level of crop as a result of erosion could make people use more artificial fertilizers and pesticides. These fertilizes contain chemicals that would pose a direct threat to water habitat. Both these factors combine to reduce the quality of water within the region. Eroded water could dispose large amounts of eroded soil in one place, leading to downstream flooding, landscape damages, and loss of plants.

Harmful Effects on Air

Eroded soil particles become a part of the atmosphere in the form of dust. This scenario, as well as the plantation chemicals that are being carried by the dust particles, contribute to air pollution. Air pollution in turn affects the growth of plants, and dust storms are capable of ruining crop of huge plantations within minutes.

Threat to Human Health

Polluted air could lead to skin diseases and respiratory illnesses for the people in the area, posing a direct threat to human well-being. Contaminated water could result in various hygienic issues, at times even at a fatal level. With soil erosion, production of food will be directly affected, and subdued access to fresh fruits and vegetables could lead to long term adverse impacts on the human body.

How Erosion Affects the Economy

As a result of soil erosion, there is likely to be dust storms and crop failures, resulting in huge losses for the farming and horticultural sectors. Additionally, massive steps need to be taken to reduce the effect of erosion, leading to greater financial costs. Developing countries are faced with further challenges, as they might not possess the resources to develop conservation schemes to prevent soil erosion all together.

Low produce from the agricultural sector would not be able to cater to the demands of the population. This would lead to people migrating to other countries, making way for further economic and cultural issues. In addition to these environmental factors, increased costs in maintaining human health and fighting illness could pose threats to the economic stability of families.  

All of the above factors would have direct impact on society both in the short term and long term. If necessary steps are not taken, man and wildlife would suffer enormously in various aspects, which is why immediate action is needed in controlling erosion.

CoirGreen’s erosion control products have been specifically designed to prevent and reduce soil erosion. Coir fiber, which is sourced from the outer shell of coconuts, can be used in various forms in facing soil erosion. CoirGreen’s range of erosion control products include Erosion Control Blankets, Geotextiles, Coir Logs, Coir Pallets, and Jute Products; all which have been proven successful in countering soil erosion.

For more details on how to secure environmentally friendly products, visit www.coirgreen.com