Coconut shell a promising resource

Dry and green coconut shells have been transformed into biochar - an effective soil amendment. Plans are on track to scale up its production in Guyana.

The improper disposal of coconut waste (discarded dried husk and green shells) is a growing challenge in Guyana. In both the rural communities and built areas, improperly disposed shells are associated with environmental problems such as clogged waterways and breeding grounds for mosquitoes and vermin. In Georgetown – Guyana’s capital, over 20 tonnes of coconut waste is produced daily!

 

Studies are showing that coconut shells are a promising resource which can be upcycled into compost, biochar, handicrafts, jewellery, utensils and even as planting receptacles.

 

Under Phase I of the Coconut Industry Development Project for the Caribbean, funded by the European Union (EU) and ACP Secretariat, CARDI collaborated with the University of Guyana to produce biochar from green coconut shells and dry coconut husks. After treatment, the raw materials were subjected to pyrolysis at 800°C, for 6 hours. Preliminarily results indicated that the green shells yielded between 43 – 69% biochar while the dried husks yielded between 62-75%.

 

Biochar is defined as carbonised biomass obtained from sustainable sources and sequestered in soils to sustainably enhance their agricultural and environmental value. It is an excellent soil amendment which positively impact soils water and nutrient holding capacities and microbial activities. It is also known to improve soil aeration and lower nutrient leaching rates, thus increasing nutrients availability to crops. When added to soils, biochar also has the ability to sequester carbon thereby mitigating against climate change.

 

Under Phase II of the project, CARDI will be scaling up the production of biochar and commence a study to evaluate its impact on plant growth in sandy soils.

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