Coir pith composting

Coir pith, is produced in large quantities as waste material of the coir industry. Coir pith has wide C: N ratio and its lignin and cellulose rich nature does not favour natural decomposition process as in other agricultural wastes. Mushrooms belonging to the genus Pleurotus have the capacity to degrade part of the cellulose and lignin present in coir pith by production of enzymes such as., cellulases and lactases, bringing down the C:N ratio as well as lignin content.

A shaded place of 5 m x 3 m dimension may be selected and levelled after removing weeds. For treating 1 tonne of coir pith, we need 1.5 kg mushroom spawn and 5 kg urea. 100 kg coir pith may be first spread uniformly. Spread 300 g (one bottle or cover) of Pleurotus spawn on this and cover with a second layer of 100 kg coir pith. On the surface of the second layer, spread 1 kg urea uniformly. Repeat this sandwiching process of one layer of coir pith with spawn followed by another layer of coir pith with urea up to 1 m height. Sprinkle water if necessary to keep the heap moist. Allow the heap to decompose for one month.

The coir pith is converted into good manure after 40-60 days and the lignin content is reduced from 30 per cent to 40 per cent. Another significant change is the lowering down of C: N ratio from 112:1 to 24:1. The composting reduces the volume by about 40 per cent.

This coir pith compost contains macronutrients as well as micronutrients. It has the unique property of absorbing and retaining moisture to about 500-600 per cent. It improves the water infiltration rate and hydraulic conductivity of soil.