Alappuzha: A meshed cellular structure made purely of eco-friendly coir could bring large areas of erosion-prone slope lands under cultivation. The innovative new product called the ‘Agri Coir Cell’ has been developed by the Thiruvanathapuram-based National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI) and is being showcased at the ongoing Coir Kerala 2014 international coir trade fair.
Coir ropes woven into geotextiles have long been used to prevent mudslides and erosion along slopes. While the geotextiles help stabilise the slope, the land is still largely unusable because agriculture involves disturbing the soil, a process that could adversely affect these sensitive regions.
The Coir Cell not only tackles the problem of erosion better than conventional geotextiles, it effectively provides small pockets of soil, much like rows of porous flower-pots, which can be individually dug and planted in without disturbing the surrounding area.
The NCRMI has also developed a system to lay the cells, which are held in place by a metal frame around bamboo/wood stakes. The mesh can be made with small or large cells, depending on the requirement. Smaller cells can be used to cultivate vegetables or grow flowering shrubs and the larger ones can be used for fruit trees. Once the plants grow, their roots bind the soil and give the slopes additional stability.
“Slopes reinforced with conventional geotextiles do have grass and plants growing on them, but we have not so far been able to use these areas for full-fledged cultivation; with Agri Coir Cells, we hope to change that,” said NCRMI Director, Dr. Anil K R. “There are synthetic variants of these cells available elsewhere, but coir is certainly the more sustainable, eco-friendly solution.”
He said the NCRMI has successfully tested the coir cells at its research facility in Kudappanakkunnu, Thiruvananthapuram and is now exploring the commercial viability of the product.
Kerala Biz News