When reeds grow profusely in a river it is a sign that the water is enriched. The inflow of articial fertiliser, sewage and phosphates in the storm water cause reeds and algae to grow excessively. One way to reduce the level of these chemicals in the water is to cut the reed often.
Reeds are very good at absorbing these chemicals. If constantly pruned, the reeds are kept in a fast growing phase and extract a maximum amount of polluting chemicals. BUT this is expensive and labour intensive. We have been experimenting with the cut reed material to turn it into a sellable product. We started with composting but struggled with chipping the reeds up finely enough.
For this we need a special purpose chipper that works. We also need to produce large volumes of compost for this process to be economically viable.
We have also experimented with making an animal feed using the cut reed material. This has been very successful and we have formulated a balanced maintenance freed which has been registered and we are able to market.
Lastly we have experimented with making paper and food packaging from the cut reed material. This has been successful but we are struggling to find a replacement chemical or process for caustic soda in this process. Once we resolve this, we will role this out using a co-operative business model to engage unemployed people in paper making from their homes.
The funder for the Reed Project is Breexe Gouritz Catchment Management Agency and co-funding is Table Mountain Fund Small Grant funding.