Soil erosion can occur as a result of rainfall, wind, storm runoff, or severe weather. From sediment control structures on highway construction jobs to the gradual destruction of shorelines, the need for effective sediment control is only increasing. Coir, a fibrous material derived from coconuts, has properties that make it an ideal candidate for erosion control.
Coir Fiber Baffles
Baffles made from coco coir act as fencelike, porous barriers. This material allows water to flow through slowly. Coir catches particles, or sediment, in the water as it flows, causing the sediment to settle before it’s carried off-site. Coir baffles can come in many forms, including mats, blocks, logs, wattles, and netting, depending on a particular project’s needs. Using coir improves sediment retention and reduces erosion.
Coir Fiber Baffles in Basins
Using coir fiber baffles strategically is key to their efficacy. Setup largely depends on the coir baffles’ purpose. For example, coir baffles installed in a series have been shown to greatly increase sediment retention in sediment basins. The series typically includes two to three baffles spaced evenly throughout the basin. This way, the water’s flow is weakened, and gravity helps settle the sediment.
Coir baffles 3 feet in height are sufficient, though they should not be higher than the basin’s emergency spillway. Ideally, you want to hang 20 ounces of coir fiber from a nine-gauge tensioned wire fastened to metal T-posts 4 feet apart. The coir is stapled or otherwise secured to the ground and anchored at the sides to keep water from rushing underneath or around the baffles.
The first in the series of coir fiber baffles does the bulk of the work. It creates a backup as it slows the flow of water. This first coir baffle builds up the largest amount of sediment. As water and some particles flow through the first coir baffle, it’s met with the second and third baffle of the series, which operate in a similar fashion. Other coir baffles in the series slow water flow further and capture sediment, keeping it from leaving the site to be deposited elsewhere. Second and subsequent coir baffles also serve as backups to the first.
Coir Fiber Baffles Help the Environment
Coir barriers are often used to manage erosion in sediment dams and silt basins but are also widely used in wetlands, shorelines, and landscaping for the same purposes. Coco coir is an environmentally friendly, nontoxic, yet strong material, making it a perfect choice for stabilizing shorelines, preventing slope runoff, and restoration or revegetation. Coir can last anywhere from two to five years before breaking down, depending on the environment, so it can be used safely as a support system until other vegetation can flourish.
Coir retains water to prevent new vegetation from drying out and promotes rapid growth. Coir barriers are even used as ‘floating curtains’ to manage the dispersion of silt in bodies of water.
Coir’s versatility means it can be used in a variety of settings to protect the environment and control erosion.