Adding value to agricultural waste: production and quality assessment of coconut coir as soilless media for plant production

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Coconut husks from two major sources (coastal and inland areas) were used in the study. Coir dust (CD) produced were grouped into five treatments and labeled CD- 1 to CD- 5. The study was to investigate the physical and chemical characteristics of the five media and the growth response of Salvia splendeus seeds. Five media mixes based on mixture of coir dust and sawdust with coir dust in increment of volume from 0 to 100% coir dust and KNUST soil mix as control substrate. The 50% coir and 50% sawdust blend had the best percentage germination (90%) with KNUST mix the lowest of 65%. There was no difference in percentage germination of 100% coir and 100% sawdust media. However, it was realized that various media had significant effect on growth rate after 4thi week of germination. The various sources of husks also had significant effect (p< 0.05) on Electrical conductivity, potassium, Nitrogen, Manganese, Moisture, Bulk Density, pH, Calcium, Iron, Sodium and Chloride contents but there were no significant difference (p> 0.05) in Phosphorus and Magnesium contents. Although significant differences were observed among sources of coconut coir with respect to physical and chemical properties, most mineral elements were within ranges reported for coir and sphagnum peats (Handreck, 1993) and considered acceptable substrates to be used in most horticultural applications. Due to the variability of minerals that exist among coir produced from various sources, coir products must be evaluated and amended before use. It should be noted that coconut coir dusts does not support and sustain plant growth for a lifetime unless otherwise supplied with continuous fertilizer regimes or are prepared in combination with other media.
A thesis submitted to the College of Science in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, 2005