Coir substrate recycling
Tasmania’s berry industry has increasing embraced hydroponics and protected cropping to allow growers to reliably grow the best berries. These systems use nutrients solutions instead of soil substrates and require solid substrate materials, such as peat, rockwool or coconut fibre, to provide physical support for plants. Coconut fibre, or coir, is the most regularly used substrate material, and is sourced from South East Asia where it is a waste product of the coconut industry.
Growers have experienced significant challenges with coir costs and freight supplies, prompting the industry to look at how it can reuse used coir substrate. Recent innovations in sterilisation methods mean that spent coir can now feasibly be cleaned of pests and diseases on site, and combined with additional substrate materials sourced locally to provide an improved planting medium.
This project will develop commercial recycled coir substrate blends and sterilisation processes useable by Tasmanian businesses, and trial the these blends under commercial conditions to determine their effects on plant health, productivity and business performance.
- Understand the merits and issues of reusing coir in the context of Tasmanian strawberry production systems.
- Identify product sterilisation techniques compatible with commercial on-farm use.
- Experiment with local agricultural bi-products to improve properties of recycled coir and reduce reliance on coir imports.
- Investigate how well strawberry plants respond to recycled coir substrates and
- determine costs and benefits to producers
This project has been supported by the Tasmanian Government through the Agricultural Development Fund.