Coconut fiber, pith and chips
From Asia an alternative solution to peat
By-products of processed coconut in the last decade have been affirmed as a valid alternative to peaty matrices for preparing horticultural substrates. The generic term “coconut fiber” refers commonly and incorrectly to the medulla, which comprises only one of the by-products obtained from processing the husk. The other two consist of fiber (short – not suitable for textile use) and chips (cubes derived from cutting the husk). These matrices, in pure form or mixed together, possess very interesting agronomic properties. These materials generally have an excellent water retention capacity, all the while conferring the substrate with high air capacity and above all, structural stability, a greatly appreciated characteristic in long-cycle cultivations.
The preparatory processing of these products must be done with maximum skill, as they are rich in sodium salts, a consequence of palms growing in coastal areas. It is therefore fundamental to wash it with freshwater to remove any residue. The value of the product for the purposes of horticulture is largely determined by the method used for the rinsing treatment. Unwashed products can be used for zootechnical applications but are not suitable for vegetable, flower and nursery products. A treatment known as buffering can also be carried out to ensure that sodium is completely removed, including even the quota adsorbed by the exchange complex. The process calls for the use of calcium which replaces sodium and potassium in the exchange complex, causing a passage into solution and subsequent removal during washing. The proper execution of these treatments, the layout of the place where they are performed, and the use of pure fractions in the indicated proportions make the difference between a generic product and a Nuova Flesan product.