When you see our growbags, blocks and briquettes, you would almost forget these substrates once grew on trees themselves. How does a coconut become a fertile growing medium? This required an innovative production process. Dutch Plantin carries out this process in-house, from a to z. For all our products, the starting point is the husk of the coconut, also known as the shell. By processing it in different ways, we produce three raw materials: pith, fibres and chips.
To produce pith, we remove the fibres from the husks. The aging process starts immediately afterwards, this stabilises the pith. It involves storing the product for at least four months in bunkers. Once this process has been completed, we sift and wash the pith to remove any remaining fibres. Then, our innovative buffering process begins. The salt level is reduced and we add calcium. This is done to remove monovalent positive ions such as potassium, and water-soluble elements such as sodium and chloride. The result? Even after years of using the substrate, the structure and the correct water-air ratio remain intact. After buffering, we fill the growbags or press the pith into blocks and briquettes.
Dutch Plantin uses the entire husk. Which makes sense: even the fibres we remove for the pith are very useful. They improve the moisture transport. To do so, they must meet very strict requirements regarding, for example, salt levels and length. Even thickness is important, because fibres that are too thin decompose too fast. In our factories, the fibres are carefully sorted based on quality, cut to size, and then washed, dried and pressed.
We don’t splice all husks into fibres and pith. Some of the shells are shredded. This is how we get coconut chips: the ideal additive for potting soil mixtures. The chips retain water, aerate the potting soil and mix perfectly with, for example, peat, turf, clay granules or perlite. Like the other products, the chips are also subject to the careful process of cutting, washing, buffering, drying and pressing.
From coconut to growing medium in a minute and a hal
Curious to know how the production process – from the coconut plantations in India and Africa to the final products for growers worldwide – works? Watch the video.