Soil erosion is a serious problem, maybe one of the most significant of environment related problems that our planet is facing today. Soil is the single most important natural resource from which all things grow. Annual losses of topsoil due to wind and rain cause the earth to be denuded of vegetation. The results of loss of green cover and its effects on mankind are known to everyone.

Erosion fabrics were formulated to help halt erosion by binding with the soil and forming a cover. Erosion blankets such as those made from polyester, polyamide, polypropylene and polyethylene have found applications in civil engineering projects – particularly in stabilization of slopes, embankments and roads. However, these materials are not biodegradable and can cause soil pollution or water contamination. Soil stabilization matting enable vegetation to take hold and grow in hitherto precarious conditions, serving the dual purpose of increasing green cover and halting topsoil erosion.

In a day and time when searching for an environmentally safe alternative is paramount, natural fibers that are tensile, resistant, biodegradable and economical are the best choice for erosion fabrics. Here, coconut fiber or coir emerges as a clear frontrunner, owing to its versatile properties and applications.

Coir erosion fabrics provide firm support on slopes and unlike other natural fiber alternatives like cotton or jute, do not degrade until 5 years. They have the necessary strength and come in a number of forms such as matting, rolls and logs and are used for soil stabilization.

Civil Engineering and Design Applications

Coconut fiber finds applications in

  • Slope stabilization in railway cutting and embankments
  • Protection of water courses
  • Reinforcement of temporary walls and rural unpaved roads,
  • Providing a sub base layer in road pavements
  • Land reclamation and filtration in road drains
  • Containment of soil and concrete as temporary seeding etc.
  • Highway cut and fill slopes
  • Control of gully erosion and shallow mass waste

Agricultural and Greening Applications

Coconut fiber is not affected by saline water – making it the best choice for water course protection including stream bank protection and shoreline stabilization. Coir is completely biodegradable, converting to humus or mulch at the end of its functional life, which provides an added advantage for increasing of green cover and vegetation. Coir provides the best natural medium for vegetation to take root and flourish, making it useful for

  • Agricultural and horticultural applications like mulching, anti-weed, vegetative water channels
  • Ski slopes at high altitudes
  • Dune rehabilitation to wetland environments
  • Landscaping and backyard planting of gardens
  • Protective systems for plants and trees
  • Agricultural and Horticultural engineering industries
  • Roof top greening
  • Fly ash dump waste protection and greening forestry re-vegetation

Other Applications

Coir or coconut fiber, like natural soil, has a capacity to absorb solar radiation. This implies that excessive heating does not occur as in the case of synthetic erosion fabrics. Therefore, coir can be used for

  • UV protection for under earth crops
  • Protection from wind erosion
  • Storm shuttering
  • Mud wall reinforcement
  • Soil stabilization.

Export data from across the world indicate that coir is being accepted widely and demand has steadily increased over the last five years.