Published on Hortidaily
The last few years has seen a marked increase in the use of coir for soft fruit cultivation and the propagation of young plants. The sensitivity of such crops has meant that buffered coir has become the substrate of choice. In the production of buffered coir substrate, calcium nitrate is used to remove unwanted elements such as sodium, potassium, silicon, chloride and boron. These elements have a major influence on the germination, propagation and growth of plants, so it is advised to eliminate them. Not many growers are aware of the fact that the waste water of the calcium nitrate treatment, if not managed properly, can become a very serious threat to the local environment of the substrate manufacturer. This is why Botanicoir recently completed the installation of an advanced waste water treatment plant at their production site in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. Botanicoir is now the first coir substrate manufacturer with such an advanced water treatment plant.
“As the demand for our buffered coir substrate Precision Plus increases every year, we have more and more waste water to dispose of”, says Botanicoir’s Managing Director Kalum Balasuriya. “In the past it was sufficient to dilute the waste water and supply it as a nutrient solution to fertigate the surrounding 120 acres of coconut, banana and pineapple plantations. But over the last few years as our production has increased, the amount of waste water and our daily water consumption has risen significantly and we realised the need for some kind of waste water treatment system. It is very important to us that we are mindful of using and disposing of water in an environmentally responsible manner. We wanted to be ahead of the curve on this one.”
Botanicoir contracted engineers from the Sri Lankan company Puritas to design and install a state-of-the-art turnkey water treatment plant.
Inauguration of the plant by local monks
Botanicoir is now able to collect all waste water in a closed, central system and remove the particles that are harmful to the environment. The waste water is then processed multiple times with several advanced filtration technologies and purification treatments. “After treatment, the water is as clear as drinking water and it meets all standards of the Sri Lankan Environmental Authority”, says Mr Balasuriya.
Presentation by Puritas during the opening.
The Sri Lankan Environmental Authority is frequently taking samples and monitoring soil and water wells in and around the coir production sites to test them for pollution. The Head of Department, Mr Saman Senanayake, underlined the importance of the first Waste Water Treatment Plant for the Sri Lankan coir industry. “The waste water from calcium nitrate treatments for buffered coir products can form a threat to the local environment if the industry does not handle it correctly. Luckily a company like Botanicoir felt the urge to actin time and made a big commitment to the local environment with the investment in such an expensive, but efficient technology.”