Manual Técnico del Sistema Vetiver - Edicion en Español

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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Gracias al esfuerzo de Oscar Rodríguez de Venezuela, la versión final del Manual Técnico del Sistema Vetiver en español ya ha sido publicada.  Este manual esta disponible al público por un costo de US$15.00 a través de la Página de Publicaciones del Vetiver Network International (TVNI)

Ediciones en Inglés, Francés y Swahili también estan disponibles allí, al igual que otras publicaciones importantes sobre la planta Vetiver.
El costo de estos manuales técnicos esta pautado para aumentar a US$20.00 muy pronto.  Las personas interesadas deben aprovechar el precio actual.

Thanks to the efforts of Oscar Rodriguez from Venezuela, the final Spanish version of the Vetiver System Technical Reference Manual is now published.  The manual is available to the public for $15.00 from the Publications Page of The Vetiver Network International (TVNI).  Editions in English, French, and Swahili are also available there, as well as other important publications about the Vetiver plant.

The price of these technical manuals is scheduled to increase to US$20.00 very soon. If you are interested, take advantage of the current price.

Vetiver Roots Excavation in Brazil

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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Showing  Vetiver roots in a picture or in a slide show is what most of us do when we give a presentation about our plants.  Fernando Costa Pinto of Biofabrica JAFM in Brazil does not take the easy way out.  For his display at the 2009 SOBRADE Congress on November 2009, Fernando decided to show the real thing.

My Picasa album, Vetiver roots excavation in Brazil and my YouTube video show, step-by-step, the ordeal of the excavation process required to exhibit these 10-foot roots.  Vetiver is known for grabbing onto the soil and not letting go.  These photos prove that beyond any doubt.  Thank you, Fernando, for this unique demonstration!

SOBRADE stands for Sociedade Brasileira de Recuperação de Áreas Degradadas and the congress took place Novermber 9-13 on Curitiba, Brazil.  An attendance of 380 members from 15 countries gave this event significant global importance.  Vetiver plays an important role in this context of land rehabilitation and Biofabrica JAFM in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil is a major contributor in that difficult field. 


Vetiver Top Conservation Option In Ethiopia

Friday, October 16, 2009

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Last March, The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) helped sponsor a Vetiver System workshop in Ethiopia. It seems that somebody listened. Dick Grimshaw, Chairman of TVNI shared a message that he received from Belayneh Adugna, the Up-Scaling Component Coordinator and Soil and Water Conservation Specialist of GTZ-Amhara Sustainable Land Management Program. Belayneh Adugna said:

The progress made so far to scale-up the Vetiver System in Amhara region is promising. Many government and non government organizations who are working in the area of soil and water conservation are giving due attention to promote Vetiver as the best solution for agricultural development and natural resources conservation. Vetiver nurseries are established in each corner of the region. Even private farmers are producing Vetiver planting materials and generating income by selling Vetiver seedlings.

Moreover, the Vetiver System is the top in the agenda of options for sustainable land management and included in the governments extension technologies package. So, I am sure we can make a difference in this country through the application of the Vetiver System. Actually we need to do a lot of capacity building works at all levels.
Dick Grimshaw commented: "It is a real pleasure to see the progress being made in Ethiopia with the continued expansion of the Vetiver System for soil and water conservation. There is a lot written and talked about relating to combating climate change in Africa and improving agricultural production.

"The possibilities of irrigation are very limited as compared to south and east Asia. Africa has to optimize her rain-fed agriculture - a primary concern must be erosion control, soil nutrient retention, and in-situ soil and water conservation. The Vetiver System is proving to be the least costly and most effective method of achieving these objectives. If widely applied it might indeed prove to be a precursor to a new "Green Revolution" for tropical agriculture."

I am hoping that the rest of the world will not wait for near-disaster conditions before implementing sensible soil conservation practices. Anybody else listening?

Vetiver as a Landscaping Plant

Thursday, October 15, 2009

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OK, I am guilty as charged. With thousands of Vetiver plants in my nursery and hundreds of others doing their conservation job around my farm, I too forget what an attractive plant this can be in a formal or tropical garden. I train my plants to survive in the harshest environments with almost nonexistent water, fertilization, and love. I am used to seeing them look scrawny and angry from neglect, but I know that I can count on them to do their job without a complaint.

Lately, I have been planting a few short rows near the house as part of our landscaping. At the risk of establishing a bad precedent with the not-so-lucky rest of the pack, these puppies get regular sprinkling, fertilizing, and trimming. That is when you realize that this lush, green grass can hold its own against any of the more popular decorative grasses that you pay so much more for.

I do not expect to see gardening books written about Vetiver, but my good friend Tony Cisse, editor of the blog Pepiniere Naaj Baal in Senegal created a document called Vetiver Grass for Landscaping with a great photo collection. We have three and six-plant packs in our store that enjoy in your garden. Try it out . . .

Client Profile - Vetiver in Defense of Road Embankments

Friday, October 2, 2009

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In my frequent presentations to government agencies and professional groups, I always say that, although Vetiver has been in Puerto Rico for over a 100 years, it arrived without an instruction manual. Since then, the planting methodology known today as the Vetiver System has demonstrated the plant's ability to become an important part of the solution in a soil stabilization problem. Nowhere is this more evident in our island than in our road embankments, where most of the soil has a very high clay content and is very prone to slippage after it becomes saturated with heavy rains.

Not long ago,
I was invited to deliver a Vetiver presentation to the design engineers of our Highways Authority, an agency within the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Instead of the two persons that I expected at that meeting, I was privileged to have an audience of nineteen. Within two weeks we were involved in a project on Road 30, a major highway where a low point in the road spills a high volume of water over a steep embankment.

Although this project was close to completion near the town of Las Piedras, the Highways Authority, asked their contractor, Constructora Hartmann, to additionally protect the gabion structures and soil fill by adding 4000 Vetiver plants in strategically planted rows that will provide added stability and contain soil erosion over the surface of the reconstructed slopes.

Engineer Enrique Hartmann, and his namesake father made sure that their staff attained proficiency in the proper planting techniques in accordance with the Vetiver
System guidelines. The attached picture and more in this additional Picasa Album attest to this well-done job. I feel confident that this first trial of the Vetiver plant in a major road stabilization project will provide the validation needed for its widespread acceptance. I will update this blog in the future with more pictures and results.

Vetiver in Carbon Sequestration

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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As evidence mounts on the effect of the increased amounts of carbon dioxide on global warming, the world looks for alternative methods to mitigate the problem. Because of its longevity and extraordinary root mass, Vetiver is becoming one of the leading contenders for carbon sequestration. This bioengineering application of Vetiver accomplishes the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon through biological processes. With Vetiver, carbon products are extracted from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and stored permanently in its root mass.

An article published in the September issue of Current Science titled Sequestration of atmospheric carbon into subsoil horizons through deep-rooted grasses – Vetiver Grass Model (PDF) , states in its preamble:

Choosing the strategies to mitigate global warming should envisage sustenance of soil carbon sink, and also long-term locking of excess carbon deep into the soil horizon. Fast growing grasses with penetrating deep root system would facilitate long-term locking of atmospheric carbon below plough layer with reduced chances of being recycled to atmosphere and recuperate soil carbon sink. Vetiver, a non-invasive C4 grass with fast-growing tufted root system, reaching 3 m just in one year could be an ideal global candidate with a holding potential of 1 kg atmospheric carbon, sequestered annually deep into the soil pool from one sq metre surface area.
Another document from the European Union, Climate change: Commission dishes the dirt on the importance of soil (PDF), raises a red flag about damaging the remaining carbon reservoirs by not protecting Europe's forests and peat bogs. You can read about the complete European Union thematic strategy on soils in the pages from the European Commission.

In tropical and subtropical climates, Vetiver is a clear alternative for increasing these carbon storages, while at the same time providing a soil conservation and stabilization solution in many scenarios. We can all do our part by using and promoting Vetiver in our homes and neighborhoods, and encouraging our USA government agencies to catch up with the rest of the world.

Client Profile - Vetiver on the Turabo River, Caguas, PR

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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Quick, find 4800 Vetiver plants in this picture of the Turabo River in Caguas, Puerto Rico! Well, installing them in this dry fill under an unrelenting midday sun was not much easier, but project engineer Kenneth Vélez and the hardy folks of contractor RO Rental Equipment completed the job on 9/15/2009. This project, coming to completion with this vegetative reinforcement, was undertaken by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources under the management of engineer Ramona Paris.

This ambitious proj
ect has repaired and reinforced the river's channel at a point where it makes a sharp turn in the Villa del Rey neighborhood. The path of this river was altered substantially during the 1960's when previously agricultural lands became a residential community. Ever since, the river has fought back by overflowing its bank at this turn and reclaiming some of its space.

Most of the Vetiver plants supplied by Agriflora Tropicals for this project were used to create a double hedge along the top edge of
the gabion structure. This 1060 ft (323 meters) edge will be under frequent attack by the rising river water on one side and the heavy flows or rain water from the land side. The Vetiver hedges will anchor this soil and protect the stucture from being undermined from the top.

Beyond the end of the gabion structure, a small Vetiver patch has been planted
to evaluate its behavior when battered directly by the river's current. This small 10 ft by 33 ft strip sits at the frontline of the dike's battle with the river flow. Small as it is, it could play an important role defending the front edge of the structure from the force of the water trying to work its way under the structure.

The soil and sun conditions that these plants will face can not get much worse. Regular irrigation and fertilization during the first few months must be provided diligently. Given this, I trust my plants will be up to the task . . . that's what I train them for. :-)

A full set of geotagged pictures can be seen in the Picasa album Vetiver on the Turabo River.

Vetiver on Turabo River - Caguas, PR

Agriflora Tropicals in the News

Monday, September 14, 2009

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In case you missed it - and you probably did, we made the Business section of Sunday's El Nuevo Dia newspaper. Even if the title of "Productor Mundial de la Planta de Vetiver" (Worldwide Grower of Vetiver Plants) stretches reality to the point of no return, it was very flattering to see our Vetiver production highlighted and praised by this, the largest circulation newspaper on the island. The write-up even earned us a "well done" on TV and radio by Boricuazo, the herald of positive news in Puerto Rico.

The USA, and consequently Puerto Rico, are badly lagging in the application of the Vetiver plant in soil conservation and other bioengineering applications. For the last two years, we have strived to make Vetiver easily accesible to anyone that can benefit from it. Today, the Internet provides the tools to achieve that. Our blog, The Vetiver Solutions Blog, as an information resource, and our store Agriflora T
ropicals as a shopping venue are helping to develop the critical mass of Vetiver followers that will cause the government agencies to specify the use of Vetiver as an erosion control measure more often.

We thank the newspaper reporter, Aura N. Alfaro, and El Nuevo Dia for helping us get the message out. You can read her full article in Spanish here.

Vetiver Plants - When Bigger is not Better

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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At our Internet retail store, Agriflora Tropicals, we offer plants that will work well in all soil conservation applications requiring a vegetative solution. We discussed the basic rules of the Vetiver System in an early blog titled How Do I Use The Vetiver System? that answers the most frequent questions of first-time users.

We were recently approached by a contractor looking for Vetiver plants in one-gallon pots. They were seeking plant material for a project where plants had been specified to be of this size. If small Vetiver plants were so good, starting with a larger plant had to be better and quicker, right? Alas, once agai
n, the "bigger is better" myth is proved wrong.

The attached picture from Malaysia shows a plant grown in a large polybag and transplanted to the ground as a
n adult plant. Dug out some months later, we can see that the original center of the plant
never developed deep roots. Even with proper irrigation and application of fertilizers, the center roots th
at were bag-bound became senescent and did not regenerate.

Vetiver roots grow and penetrate the soil by creating new tillers and roots around the original slip or small plant once it is set on the ground. The roots of a small plant will extend like curtain layers from that center and secure the soil starting right at the center. A root-bound large plant will grow with a weak center that will never provide the needed soil anchoring. When set side-by-side in a slope, the resulting hedge will not provide the desired support and the results could be catastrophic.

Transplanting large, root-bound plants from bags or pots to save time is not cost-effective and is not the recommended technique of the Vetiver System. Save your large plants for landscaping projects or, better yet, use them to propagate new, stronger plants.

Exxon-Mobile Plants Vetiver From The East Bali Poverty Project

Sunday, July 26, 2009

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When I first read about this project a few months ago, I was duly impressed by the quality of work and happy for the visibility that a client like Exxon-Mobile meant for a Vetiver colleague. But this story goes beyond being another Vetiver success story in a remote location that I am unlikely to ever visit. This was the work of the folks at the East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) in East Java, Indonesia, a mountain community that has made Vetiver both a source of income and its foundation for a better future.


In September 2008, the civil engineering contractor constructing the inland oilfield for Exxon-Mobil in Bojonegoro, East Java, Indonesia, requested that they survey and quote for supplying and planting Vetiver on the slopes of a newly constructed oil platform. The Vetiver was needed to stabilize the slopes of approximately 2 meters of fill, to prevent any erosion from runoff from the 125,000 square meters of concrete platform. The runoff during monsoon rains would otherwise carry a lot of it away.

A total of 34,000 Vetiver slips were required for the 3,000 square meters of slopes, planting Vetiv
er rows at 80 cm (32 inches) measured down the slopes, and 10 cm (4 inches) plant separation along the contours, to ensure sufficient plants to cope with the enormous runoff. They started planting at the start of the rainy season (end of November 2008). Amazingly, a three-man team completed the planting in five days. The attached “after” photo, taken at beginning of May 2009, shows the fantastic growth and zero erosion of the oil platform side slope five months after the planting.

SUMMARY OF EAST BALI POVERTY PROJECT

The East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) is a non-profit organization established in 1998 by David J. Booth, a British resident of Bali after an appeal for help by an isolated mountain village, forgotten by time and progress. Surveys in 1998 revealed thousands of people, in 19 isolated hamlets, living in abject poverty - without water, sanitation, roads, schools, health facilities or electricity. By 2009, sustainable community livelihoods opportunities had opened in Vetiver grass sales and dried Vetiver handicrafts.

Today, malnutrition and child mortality are almost eliminated, due to improved access and other facilities that have been enabled by the power of Vetiver grass – the stabilization of roads; the stopping of mountain homes from slipping down the slopes; the establishment of permanent hedges that allow vegetable gardens on steep and sandy farms that could only grow cassava and corn before. With the philosophy of “helping people to help themselves”, the EBPP project delivers both ecological and humanitarian results under conditions most others would have termed impossible. Please visit the EBPP web site for a complete view of this amazing story.

Hawaii Legislature Evaluates Vetiver as a Vegetative Erosion Barrier

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

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Although the USA has badly lagged the rest of the world in the implementation of vegetative soil erosion controls, we are finally seeing steps in the right direction. Sometimes these "baby steps" come from where you least expect them. Of all places, the Hawaii Senate in State Concurrent Resolution SCR176 is requesting their Department of Land and Natural Resources and their Department of Transportation to research the use of Vetiver as an erosion barrier.

In the resolution, the senate recognizes that in spite of millions of dollars having been invested in "
hard engineering structures", soil erosion "continues to compromise road safety, pollute streams and coastal waters, and kill reefs". The Senate also established that "additional mitigation work could be completed if effective methods of slope stabilization and soil erosion prevention were more economical, environmentally-friendly, and readily available".

In conclusion, the resolution states:

"BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-fifth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2009, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Legislature requests that the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation research the use of vegetative erosion barriers, particularly Vetiver grass, to minimize soil erosion and prevent the resulting runoff from damaging roads, streams, coastal waters, and reefs and to stabilize stream banks, hillsides, and other threatened sites."
The summary page with the ongoing status of the measure can be seen here: Hawaii State Legislature SCR176.

Given that
Hawaii is probably the most conservative and protectionist state when it comes to exotic plants, this is a major milestone. Vetiver has been in Hawaii for many years, and evidence of its merits is very evident, so this should probably move along very rapidly. What the good senators may not know, however is that their state Department of Agriculture has a regulation in place that requires a two-year quarantine for the importation of any grass. I suspect that there is not enough Vetiver supply in Hawaii to support a project of this magnitude in the short term. Given Vetiver's well documented non-invasiveness, it should not be part of this extreme regulation.

I suggest we all keep an eye on this one.
Stay tuned . . .

Client Profile - Vetiver in a Backyard Orchard, Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, July 5, 2009

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Whenever I have the pleasure of telling people about the uses of Vetiver and the proper planting method, I always make a point of saying that the two things that Vetiver dislikes the most are ice and shade. Oversimplified as that statement may be, both of those conditions may kill or stun the plants and planting under tree canopies should be avoided when planning a landscaping or soil conservation project.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago I received a very kind email from UCLA law professor Grace Blumberg in west Los Angeles praising the Vetiver plants that she and her husband Donald, both UCLA Master Gardeners, had purchased from us on the Internet and planted last February. The message included a collection of photos of their semicircular hillside backyard with a very nicely laid out drip irrigation system and a collection of small trees set between the Vetiver rows. In my book, the shade from those little trees would be detrimental to the Vetiver in a few years, so I wrote back raising a red flag about the possible shade issue.

Happily, Grace was a step ahead of me. She quickly explained that they had planned and distanced the trees according to a novel concept of "Backyard Orchards" where the trees will be regularly pruned and allowed to grow no taller that arm's reach for ease of maintenance and harvesting. This technique results in a lower yield per tree, but a greater yield per acre with reduced harvesting cost. This technique is detailed in the web site of Dave Wilson Nurseries and is now been used by some California commercial orchards as well. With this management, the tree shade is unlikely to become an issue in this orchard.

The Blumbergs are quickly becoming Vetiver champions in their own right. Beyond their own backyard, they are already sharing their knowledge where it can be put to good use. In Grace's own words:
"We consider the Vetiver a great success. Beside its many fine qualities, we love the appearance of the green Vetiver rows between rows of the fruit trees that we planted at the same time. We are both University of California Master Gardeners and, within the next few months, we will be presenting a brief PowerPoint presentation on Vetiver to a meeting of the Los Angeles County Master Gardeners. The mission of the LA County Master Gardeners is to teach low-income adults and school children in low-income schools how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. There is considerable local land that is unutilized because of its steep grade. Hence, bioengineering with Vetiver promises to be a local godsend."
It is very rewarding and valuable when our clients take the time to give us feedback and share their experiences with us. This is one story that I felt important to pass along. I also learned my lesson . . . never argue with a lawyer that knows more than you about gardening. (said with a tip of my hat)

Thailand: Faasai Resort Plants Vetiver in Wetland

Sunday, May 31, 2009

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The Faasai Resort and Spa, a family owned eco-resort in Thailand, will plant Vetiver to protect White Water Lake, a conservation lake 500 meters from the resort. Their guests are being invited to join the planting on World Responsible Tourism Day, Tuesday June 2, 2009.

White Water Lake (No
ng Nam Kao) has healing mineral spring waters which collect in streams, the small lake and a swamp. To increase the water retention the owners of Faasai Resort have increased the depth of the stream and lake. They have also planted Vetiver grass, bamboo, lemongrass and about 1,000 trees around the perimeter of the lake and on adjoining land.

"Our intention is to preserve the springs as a reservoir of pure fresh water and to provide a safe shelter for birds and other wildlife including fish, frogs, bats, lizards and snakes," say the owners. So far more than a hundred varieties of birds, dozens of varieties of fresh water fish, fresh water shrimps, water monitors, pythons, rats and water snails have been recorded at the sanctuary.

On June 2 the edges of the water are being planted with an additional 1,000 Vetiver plants - which is considered to be a 'super grass' for water conservation. Vetiver ('yaa faak' in Thai) has a strong fibrous root system which rapidly penetrates deep into the soil and develops into a tightly knitted net. It holds the soil together and serves as an underground wall which retards water flow but allows water to seep into the soil. The roots are also capable of absorbing mineral nutrients for plants and other chemical substances such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides before they flow into the water sources. This protects the water from pollutants and maintains water quality.

The resort is nestled beside a small forest reserve in the foothills of the world-renowned Cardamom Mountains which stretch into Cambodia 100 kilometres away. This makes the area a magnet for wildlife, despite being only a three-hour drive from Bangkok. The sustainable practices implemented by the resort have earned them much recognition from the tourist industry. See more about this story in this Asia Travel Blackboard newsletter.

NRCS Plant Guide on Vetiver

Friday, May 29, 2009

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Stop the presses! This is front page news about Vetiver that may, once and for all, answer some of the doubts that you may have about this plant.

The NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) of the US Department of Agriculture has issued a new Plant Guide on Vetiver. It comes from the NRCS office in Hawaii and has excellent information about the Vetiver plant and the Vetiver System.

The Vetiver community is very pleased with this publication, but a few of its statements may need clarification or updating.
  • The range of soil pH that the plant will tolerate has been documented by the Vetiver Network International as being 3.3 to 12.5 without soil amendment and is so stated in its publications. The guide states 4 to 7.5 which its limiting its application unnecessarily.
  • Except in very difficult enviroments, the plants do not need irrigation or large amounts of fertilizer to become established.
  • The case of "a stem bending down into moist soil and rooting at the node" is so improbable that people working with Vetiver for over 50 years have never seen it.
Be sure to pick up a copy of this guide here, and share it with other people that may benefit from this information.

Nicaragua: Vetiver as a Community Project

Thursday, May 14, 2009

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Googling the web for other information, I came across this article in Spanish from Nicaragua whose title translates as The Wizards of Vetiver. It tells the story of this rural community 45 km south of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua that has turned Vetiver into a communal effort. Working as a cooperative and with the funding and assistance of government agencies, they have turned to Vetiver as an answer to their agricultural problems and as a source of community income.

Early plantings of Vetiver provided dramatic improvements in the condition of their agricultural soils by increasing humidity in an otherwise very dry terrain. The community then implemented an education program by means of posters, newspapers, and radio programs, that resulted in the whole community embracing the technology improving the agricultural productivity accross the region.

Today the cooperative sells Vetiver to the government and other farmers in Nicaragua. Not only has their agricultural productivity increased, but Vetiver is now a major commercial product of their community, with additional income being produced from crafts made out of the Vetiver leaves. In the end, the educational and commercial efforts will have benefited about 12,000 families. This is an important aspect of Vetiver that we sometimes miss in the more developed countries, and it is gratifying to see it done well where it is needed.

Vetiver as Part of a Pest Management System

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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Pest management is the science of preventing, suppressing, or eradicating biological organisms that are causing a problem. The term "Integrated Pest Management" (IPM), implies integration of approaches and methods into a pest management system, which takes into consideration the ecology of the environment and all relevant interactions that pest management practices may have upon the environment in which one or more pest problems may exist. When IPM principles are applied to a given pest problem, it is generally assumed that environmental impact and economic risks have been minimized. Since IPM considers all applicable methods, it is also assumed that emphasis on chemical methods may be reduced when effective non-chemical alternative methods are available.

The use of Vetiver as part of a management system falls into the realm of "Cultural and Mechanical" practices that that can be quick, safe, and economical to implement for the protection of many agricultural crops. Trials in Ethiopia and South Africa with the control of stem borers and nematodes have been very successful.

Depending of the environment, Vetiver can act both as a trap crop around the perimeter of a produce field, and as an underground physical barrier against nematodes and termites. In some areas the plants are allowed to grow tall and serve as wind barriers protecting more delicate crops. For many farmers, the introduction of Vetiver into their practices also provides the solution to soil erosion problems that threaten to severely reduce the productivity of many soils.

Vetiver alone is not enough to control pests. A complete management plan must be devised depending on the objectives that may include chemical controls - but hopefully in a much lesser scale.

For additional information and pictures, see this PowerPoint presentation by Johnnie van den Berg from the School of Environmental Sciences and Development of Northwest University in South Africa: Vetiver as a Component of a Pest Management System.

Vetiver Manual in Spanish

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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Statistics about readers of this blog obtained from Google tools indicate that we now have readers in over 50 countries around the world. A good number of these readers include Spanish speakers from Spain and Latin American countries that are making great progress in the adoption of Vetiver bioengineering practices. Abundant documentation regarding Vetiver grass and the Vetiver System is available for English speaking readers at the web site of The Vetiver Network International, but good documentation in Spanish, however, is scattered, and somewhat difficult to locate.

Our good friend
Joachim Boehnert, associate director of The Vetiver Network for Latin America, made me aware of an excellent document by Dr. Julio Alegre Orihuela, researcher and teacher at the Universidad Nacional Agraria la Molina in Lima, Peru. His study, Manual sobre el uso y manejo del gras Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) has 37 pages of excellent information and photos that should prove very valuable to our Spanish readers. This document can be downloaded here.

We also encourage our Latin American readers to join the discussion group Red Vetiver Latina, coordinated by Joachim Boehnert. This site provides the means for Spanish speakers to network and exchange information and stories on the many projects in Latin America.

We thank both of these capable professionals for their contributions on this subject.

Ethiopia Vetiver System - Conference Proceedings

Friday, April 3, 2009

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Dick Grimshaw, Chairman of The Vetiver Network International (TVNI), has just returned from a ten day visit to Ethiopia. The highlight of his trip was his attendance and participation in a three day workshop titled “The Vetiver System for Soil & Water Conservation, Environmental Protection, and Land Rehabilitation in Ethiopia”. This workshop, held March 16-18, 2009, was organized by the Ethiopian Sustainable Land Use Forum (SLUF).

The aim of the workshop was scaling up the use of the Vetiver System (VS) for soil and water conservation, environmental rehabilitation, soil stabilization, protection of infrastructures, and mitigation of climate change in Ethiopia. Some 160 people participated from a wide range of agencies, government, NGO, and the private sector.

The photo dramatically shows about a meter of soil accumulation behind an 11 year old hedgerow. In these areas soil loss has been reduced bymore than 90%, and rainfall runoff by as much as 70%. Ethiopian corn farmers have reported crop yield increases of 30% to 50% using the Vetiver System to improve their fields.

Ethiopia has made significant progress in the introduction of Vetiver bioengineering. Today, it is a world leader in the Vetiver System application. There was pretty good agreement of the value of the Vetiver System as was very nicely demonstrated by the Ethiopian presentations dealing with Soil and Water Conservation based on some 20 years experience with the Vetiver grass technology. It is expected that VS will now be scaled up in Ethiopia and will be applied to other sectors apart from agriculture. Lessons learned from the workshop could and should be applied widely in most countries in the tropics and semi-tropics that depend on rain fed agriculture if crop productivity is to be maintained.

You can download the Workshop Summary and view all the proceedings, both PowerPoint presentations and abstracts via this Workshop Proceedings Index. The page for this and prior conferences around the world are in TVNI’s Conference Proceedings page.

Client Profile – Gutierrez Residence, Cayey, Puerto Rico, USA

Saturday, March 21, 2009

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When we talk about Vetiver grass in the role of erosion control and soil stabilization, we tend to focus on the big coastal protection projects, the railroad mountain passes, and the many rural roads made safe by securing the slopes to avoid a landslide. But we do not have to be structural engineers to step back from those mega-projects and look at our own backyard to see where Mother Earth could use a helping hand.

That is what the Gutierrez family did when a friend passed on a Vetiver flyer that he had received from me. The Gutierrez had just completed a major renovation of a beautiful house in the central highlands of Cayey, Puerto Rico, with a spectacular view of the mountain range and a panorama of the north shore of the island. The finely crafted wood terraces, however, rested in a poorly compacted mound that already showed signs of surface erosion across its lengthy slope. A poorly erected wall at the bottom would have no effect on the surface soil loss that was already evident.

Determined to avoid a massive and unsightly concrete structure on their backyard, the Gutierrez picked up the Vetiver plants, popularly known in Puerto Rico as Pacholí, directly from our nursery and spent some time understanding the concepts of The Vetiver System. With minimal assistance from us, they did their own planting using neighborhood help. At just over six months, as seen in more pictures in this Picasa Album, the slope is green and stable, and they will now proceed with additional landscaping of their gardens. We congratulate the Gutierrez on a job well done!

India - Geosafety at the Konan Railway

Friday, January 30, 2009

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Several weeks ago I blogged the story of the Fianarantsoa Railway in Madagascar, and their use of Vetiver grass to stabilize the railway cuts along their 200 Km. of track.

An article just posted online on January 25, 2009 by The Times of India reports on the success of the Konan Railway after 11 years of operation connecting Mumbai with Mangalore. In the article, they quote a press release from the Konan Railway saying:

Efforts have been taken to increase safety on the route by executing massive earthworks, widening slopes, planting vetiver grass to control soil erosion, and other geo-tech works to arrest boulder falls and soil slippage during monsoon. Major traffic disruptions were averted on the route in past three years since these works were executed and a special monsoon timetable implemented on the route.
Konan Railway runs for 741 Km. and 564 rock cuttings constitute about 225 Km. of that. On the Konan Railway website, a document is posted describing their efforts on Geothech Safety. Extensive information on their commitment to Vetiver begins in page 14 of that document. Their commitment to good engineering and bio-engineering practices has been instrumental in reducing the number of boulder falls and soil slips from 132 in the year 2000 to 12 in 2008.

The
Vetiver grass varieties used for soil conservation by the Vetiver System, come from the south of India. It is great to see that it still holds such a preeminent status in that country.

More information on the
Konan Railway and its route map if you'd like to take a ride, can be found on Wikipedia.

Mauritius - Landscaping at Golf du Château

Monday, January 26, 2009

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Within The Vetiver Network we are so preoccupied with soil conservation issues, that we seldom find time to think of Vetiver as a landscaping plant. It takes a spectacular setting such as the golf course Golf du Château in the island of Mauritius to drive this point home and give us a new appreciation for our hard-working plants.

The plant was selected for this course by landscape artist Patrick Watson. His beautiful vision was made reality by Peter Matkovich of Matkovich and Hayes Golf Estates Solutions in South Africa. The Vetiver selection was based not only for its fantastic contrast to the green paspalum at different times of the year, but for its exceptional stabilization of the soils on the steep slopes, particularly as Mauritius is in a high rainfall belt. Needless to say, this is one “rough” where you do not want your ball to land.

As with most landscaping grasses, Vetiver needs substantial upkeep in a formal environment. Consistent watering, fertilization and bi-annual cutting and cleaning are necessary to maintain this elegant look. If you are up to the task, the results can be amazing.

Photo courtesy of Golf du Château

The Vetiver Caribbean Network and La Red Vetiver Latina Google Groups Now Open

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

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The Vetiver Caribbean Network Google Group and La Red Vetiver Latina Google Group are now officially open. This are two new discussion sites for the exchange of information and experiences related to the use of Vetiver plants and the Vetiver System in the Caribbean Region and in Latin America.

The Vetiver Caribbean Network is hosted by me in English, and La Red Vetiver Latina is hosted by Joachim Boehnert in Spanish. These groups are affiliated to The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) , and include many international members providing support to the Caribbean and Latinamerican countries. Membership is open and free. You are invited to visit or join either or both of these groups.

The Vetiver Network International Awards - 2008

Sunday, January 4, 2009

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Dear readers,

Your continued support has once again helped this blog achieve a distinction that makes me very proud. The Vetiver Network International Awards for 2008 have just been announced and our blog was recognized with one of the four awards for special contributions or achievements in the use of The Vetiver System. Our recognition for the contibutions made by this blog reads:

Alberto Rodriguez - Puerto Rico - The Best Vetiver System Blog of 2008
"For his blog
, The Vetiver Solutions Blog. His work is an inspiration and example for Vetiver users around the world, and especially for those in the Caribbean Region."
The other awards presented for 2008 went to our good friends:

  • Yoann Coppin of Madagascar was recognized for The Best Picasa Vetiver Systems Gallery. This gallery, Vetiver System - Madagascar, provides an excellent depiction of sand dune stabilization in Madagascar and the involvement of small farmers in Vetiver plant material production. (An earlier article in this blog, Madagascar - The Ilmenite Project, highlighted this excellent work)
  • Marco Forti from Italy achieved The Best Vetiver System Blog With New Ideas. Marco has shown great initiative in creating his blog site Journal of the Land. It is both in English and Italian and is full of innovative Vetiver applications.
  • Tony Cisse in Senegal has The Best Vetiver System Blog That Combines a Blog with Picasa Picture Albums. Tony's blog, Pepiniere Naac Baal, is published in English and French. His Picasa album collection can be seen here.
I am personally very pleased and surprised at the reach that this blog has had in just a few weeks of publication. A recent report from Google Analytics shows that, in the first few weeks of publication, we had over 4000 page views from 32 different countries! Thank you, readers, for your support and for helping us give this excellent technology the attention it deserves.


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