BENGALURU: In an attempt to curb the usage of ‘plastic grow bags’, the Karnataka forest department (KFD) has decided to take the eco-friendly path.
Plastic grow bags are used for rearing of plants from seeds. Different ingredients like soil, sand, farm yard manure and seeds are used in the bag. For a long time now, the department has been using plastic bags as they are cheap, easily available and keep the ingredients intact.
Two days ago, the KFD research wing in Bengaluru attempted to make two biodegradable container-like bags using arecanut leaf at Dhanvantri Vana nursery in Bengaluru. The containers were stitched and the ingredients were placed inside it. However, the durability, performance of the seedlings and economic aspect are yet to be assessed.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Punati Sridhar said, “We want to work towards making our city plastic-free by 2020. Recently, we saw that in Kerala they have started using arecanut leaves instead of plastic grow bags and it has worked out for them. We wanted to try the same. With the plastic grow bags, we had a success rate of 75%. Now, we need to monitor the plants’ growth in arecanut leaf containers for six months to one year and see how beneficial it is.”
The other alternatives which the department has tried and received good results with are coconut shells and bamboo.The research wing of KFD in Ballari placed seedlings of Thapasi, Honge and Kamara in 250 coconut shells.
"We sowed the seedlings in the coconut shells and saw the plant’s growth was stable. However, this is like a research and we need to see results and then finalise it. The problem with coconut shell is that it is small and once the plant grows, it might affect the root ball. But this can definitely put an end to plastic," said Dr Malathi Priya, Conservator Of Forest, Ballari Research Wing. Some of the other methods that are being tried are using banana’s pseudostem, tarpaulin sheaths and PVC pipes.