Alappuzha, Feb 4 (IANS): A new coir product, a meshed cellular structure that looks like a fishing net, could aid cultivation on erosion-prone slopes.
The new 'agri coir cell' has been developed by the Thiruvanathapuram-based National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI) and is on display at the ongoing Coir Kerala 2014 International Trade Fair that ends Wednesday.
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.
The new product 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 dug and planted.
"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. But with agri coir cells, we hope to change that," said NCRMI director K.R. Anil.
He said the NCRMI has successfully tested the coir cells at its research facility and is now exploring the commercial viability of the product.
The NCRMI has also developed a system to lay the cells, which are held in place by a metal frame around a bamboo or wood framework.
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.