Proper processing of coir to lower its natural high salts level should eliminate the need to buffer it with calcium nitrate.
Coconuts, which are produced by coconut palms (Cocos nucifera), consist of husks that surround the nuts. The nuts are consumed as food and the husks are used to
produce various types of coir growing substrates, including chips, chunks and peat. Coir peat is a by-product of the husk fibers that are used to fill cushions and car seats.
Dr. Hugh Poole, international agricultural consultant, said coconut coir is initially high in sodium, potassium and chloride salts.
producers should be able to provide growers
with the coir’s EC value, its pH
value and other
information, including percent moisture.
Photos courtesy of
Poole said some growers are asking suppliers to buffer their coir with calcium nitrate.
is a precautionary step.”
|If the coir’s EC level is initially low and growers
apply a Cal-Mag fertilizer at the beginning of a
crop, there shouldn’t be deficiency problems.
“The growers are going to have to add these nutrients,” he said. “If growers are using coir they have to recognize that the exchange sites need to be filled or charged with calcium and magnesium before there starts to be a free exchange of nutrients back and forth.
“With coir where the exchange sites are filled with sodium and potassium, the only way of removing these ions is by reducing them with leaching with water or by overcompensating with calcium and magnesium.”
Poole said initially, the natural salts found in coir must be leached with water. The remaining salts will be exchanged with calcium and magnesium by a buffering treatment or with elevated levels in the fertility program. He said buffering is not an option for organic growers.
“If coir is washed well and its EC is below 0.5 mS/cm or lower, then the coir shouldn’t have to be buffered for most crops. If calcium nitrate is used to buffer the coir, magnesium has to be provided as well.”
Poole recommends growers should review both their water analysis and their fertilizer analysis to know what nutrients they are applying and to confirm nutrient levels.
“Young plants and bare-root plants are more sensitive to high salts than to short-term nutrient imbalances,” he said. Long-term crops should be monitored using tissue analyses to optimize plant nutrition and crop productivity.
Poole, FloraSynergy; (864) 359-7090; hapoole@Interact2Day.com.
Worth, Texas; email@example.com.