COCOPEAT or pronounced as 'Coco peat' is the 'coir fibre pith' or 'coir dust' a bi-product produced when processing the coconut husks for extraction of long fibre from the husks. As I understand during my study in university many years ago, Coco peat is the binding material that comes from the fibre fraction of the coconut husk. It was an industry in coconut plantation area as part of the agrobased industry activity in Malaysia and many other coconut growing area. Normally cocopeat is used for seed starting, bedding plants, planters, gardens, container plants. Anywhere you can use 'peatmoss'. In Malaysia the use of enriched and imported peatmoss are very popular among fertigation system growers as their planting media. The best properties of Cocopeat however is the ability of cocopeat that make it resistant to bacterial and fungal growth. From my observation in major vegetable growing area such as in Cameroon Highland and Kundasang on highland food crop area, the sale of cocopeat as planting media are tremendous.
Cocopeat is a multipurpose growing medium that provides new opportunities for Potting Mix Suppliers, Seedling Nurseries, Hydroponic Growers & Golf Green Constructors. Most farmers prefers to use cocopeat based on their cheap price, easily available at any agriculture distributors and environmental friendly. From my random survey around Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Cameroon Hiland, the price of cocopeat range between RM 8.00/liter to RM 14.00/liter. The high quality imported cocopeat are more expensive compare to the locally produce cocopeat. Sabah is the largest cocopeat producers in Malaysia. There are about 8 cocopeat factory in Malaysia located in Sabah (2), Selangor (2), Perak (3) and Johore (1). Most of the locally produced cocopeat are for domestic distribution and small portion exported to Singapore and Brunei.
As I know, cocopeat is a proven natural alternative to mined peatmoss, therefore using it helps slow down peat extraction from environmentally sensitive swamps worldwide. Used as a growing medium, cocopeat outperforms most of the popular brands of Peat and other type of Peats. Furthermore, cocopeat holds water rather than shedding it like traditional peat does! It retains water 8-9 times of its weight. It was the most incredible characteristic of cocopeat. From my observation, cocopeat has the ability to store and release nutrients to plants for extended periods. It also has great oxygenation properties that are important for healthy root development. According to Department of Agriculture Soil Lab analysis in Kuala Lumpur, it was confirm that the cocopeat has a pH of 5.0-6.8 which is neutral to slightly acidic. The pH are very suitable for most of food crop to grow and other ornamental tree. This also makes it great for alkaline garden soils.
Cocopeat is very slow to disintegrate as I read the MARDI reports and farmers experience. Normally the peat breaks down within two years after application bur cocopeat begins to fall apart only when it becomes 10 years old. Therefore it offers long term benefits to the users and commercial vegetable growers especially those who use the Rainshelter Greenhouse. Some reports in Cameroon Highland says that it can even be reused for 4 years!. The coir dust is washed, heat treated, screened and graded before being processed into various cocopeat products for Horticultural and Agricultural applications. As I know, some imported cocopeat products are graded on the basis of specific particle sizes and fiber content. These grading provide a more accurate growing media exactly tailored to each growing application. Particle size grading now allows for a wider spectrum of range of water retention capacities, air filled porosity and bulk density, to suit seasonal climate conditions and specific crop production. Cocopeat is considered a new technology in modern farming in Malaysia!
(25 October 2012)