|THE VETIVER SYSTEM|
The Vetiver Grass System --- A General Description
There are twelve known varieties of
vetiver grass, the most important is Vetiveria
zizanioides. For centuries the oil extract from the
roots of V.zizanioides has been used in the perfume trade. Indigenous peoples have recognized vetiver for its medicinal uses, for thatching, mulch, and feed, and for soil and moisture conservation. In more modern times (1950s) the sugar industry used vetiver grass quite widely as contour conservation hedges and for the stabilization of road sides and embankments. Vetiver once thought to be confined to wetlands thrives over a range of ecological conditions. It grows both on highly acidic (< pH4) and alkaline soils (pH11). Its roots will grow to depths of 3 - 4 meters . It is not effected seriously by pests or diseases. Many cultivars are non flowering, these when combined with a non spreading root system prevents "escape". Each clump of vetiver is extremely dense, so dense that if configured correctly will act as a near perfect filter. The grass is easy and cheap to establish, and needs minimum maintenance.
In south India, near the city of Mysore farmers have
grown vetiver for years as hedges to demarcate farm
boundaries, just as farmers in Kano, Nigeria, have done
so for centuries (V. nigratana). Since the mid 80's vetiver technology has been introduced to over 100 countries. Dissemination was achieved through videos, slides, newsletters, journal articles, and small books - all of value to end use users - farmers, extension workers and NGOs. Demand for information accelerated after a National Academy of Sciences (Washington DC) scientific review of vetiver under a committee chaired by Dr. Norman Borlaug. The published report "Vetiver Grass - The Thin Green Line Against Erosion" endorsed the use of vetiver grass and called for further efforts to introduce vetiver as a major technology for soil and moisture conservation in the tropics and sub tropics.
For a current world overview go to: paper (presented at recent International Vetiver Conference)
For more information go to: archives