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.