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Student’s groundnut planters are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic3 min read

March 3, 2021 3 min read

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Student’s groundnut planters are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This school in the state of Telangana holds a special sapling drive each year, where students are encouraged to plant trees. Even on their birthdays, rather than a typical celebration, the school insists they plant saplings, which can now be seen all across the school in little plastic covers. 

Srija, a student in Class 9, was digging some soil to plant a sapling, but much to her dismay, she noticed a plastic bag after she dug a few feet underground.

Talking about how she felt when she saw the non-biodegradable plastic, Srija told The Better India, “I immediately realised this was from one of the earlier sapling-drives. I did not want this to continue every year so I started to think of a sustainable solution to raise seedlings.”

Then, Srija put her thinking cap on, and tried coming with ways that would support eco-friendly plantation drives at her school. The 14-year-old innovated a biodegradable planter made from groundnut shell pulp! Yes, the humble peanut came to her rescue! Here’s how she went about it…

Ever wondered what groundnuts plants look like? Here’s a farm full!

Nuts for groundnuts!

In Gadwal district of Telangana, which is where Sriaj lives, groundnut cultivation happens extensively. Groundnut shells are used as a source of manure once the edible nut is taken out. This is done by making the shells, which are rich in calcium and phosphorous, into a pulp. 

Guiding in her process was her Math teacher Augustien P, who also helped her learn that the tough shell of the groundnut can retain water and disintegrate slowly. With this knowledge in hand, Srija went to the next step of creating a model planter. While the first time was unsuccessful, the teacher-student duo worked out a way to create a sturdy planter that could hold a delicate sapling.

“Once, the planter was sturdy enough, Srija added some soil and planted a neem sapling into it. We buried it underground at school and monitored it regularly to determine how long it would take to disintegrate,” Augustien had said, adding that it took less than 20 days.

Hard work gets recognised

For her initiative, Srija was awarded a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Innovation award in September 2020.

Srija’s groundnut planters

Her idea was also hailed by T-Works, Telangana, which has helped her scale-up her idea. T Works is an initiative by the Government of Telangana with a vision to create and celebrate hobbyists, makers and innovators.

“I have been making five to six planters every day by hand and have successfully planted 80 saplings. But, with the machinery, I can increase production capacity and make 10,000 planters by July 2021,” said Srija.

Source: The Better India, The New Indian Express

Photos: The Better India